By Carter Hunt, Staff Writer
Furman men’s soccer defeated East Tennessee State in Johnson City, Tenn. last Sunday 1-0 to win its second consecutive SoCon title. Despite scoring only one goal in over 200 minutes of play throughout the weekend, the Furman men’s soccer team won both games in tournament play and is now on its way back to the NCAA Tournament.
The lone goal for the Paladins came just over nine minutes into the championship game against ETSU. Freshman midfielder Noah Teplitzky beat his defender and placed the ball in heading position for junior forward Lewis Hawke, who netted what would be the SoCon championship winning goal.
For the next 80 minutes, the ETSU and Furman defenses shut down most opportunities, and good keeper play on each side stifled any shots on goal. While ETSU took more shots (19-13) and placed more of them on goal (6-3), senior goalkeeper Sven Lissek played outstanding and was a large part of the reason why Furman won in the only statistic that matters in the end: goals scored.
Lissek finished the game with six saves, four of which came in the second half. These numbers do not do justice to just how heroic some of his saves were. Down most of the game, the Buccaneers were playing desperately and put shots that would have gone in had Lissek not come in clutch with multiple diving saves.
Though overshadowed by another SoCon championship, Lissek’s back-to-back clean slates put him in sole possession of second place for the most shutouts in conference history.
Along with Lissek, who was named Most Outstanding Player for the tournament, a great tournament showing put junior midfielder Marco Carrizales, junior forward Evan De Ycaza and junior defender Wellford Moore on the All-SoCon Tournament team.
Furman’s road to the championship began Fri., Nov. 13 with a shootout win over the Mercer Bears. Despite outplaying Mercer on the stat sheet with 10 shots to Mercer’s four, none of which the Bears put on goal, Furman was unable to find the back of the net. After neither team was able to score in 90 minutes of regulation or 20 minutes of overtime, the decision was brought to the penalty area.
The Paladins capitalized on two missed penalties on Mercer’s side and won the shootout 3-2 in four attempts as senior midfielder Adrian McInnis, senior midfielder Tony Santibanez and Carrizales all buried their attempts. Carrizales took an especially gutsy penalty, sending a slow chip down the middle to a goalie that dove to his left, leaving the net open.
Furman has now won its thirteenth tournament in 16 trips to the finals, both of which are league records. This is the second year in a row that Furman has failed to win the regular season championship but still took the tournament title.
While it is undeniable that Furman has had special talent on the field, Coach Doug Allison also plays a huge role in bringing championships to the school. That is why for the seventh time in his 20 year tenure at Furman he was named SoCon Coach of the Year by his peers at conference schools. This is also his eighth tournament championship.
The Paladins will travel to Columbia, S.C. to face the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first round of the NCAA Tournament Tues., Nov. 19.