Denver, Colo. -- Furman's Danny Kierath found the back of the net in double overtime as the Paladins downed fourth-ranked Denver, 1-0, and snapped the Pioneers' 37-match regular season unbeaten run on Friday night at University of Denver Stadium.
The Paladins created a counter attack out of the midfield with under two minutes to play in the second overtime and Rocky Guerra raced down the right wing with the ball. Guerra played a pass into the path of Kierath, who was charging down the center of the field, and the Loganville, Ga., native found enough space to rifle a shot into the left-hand corner with 1:19 to play to give Furman a 3-0-0 start to the season.
"Tonight was another memorable win for our program against a highly ranked opponent," said Paladin head coach Doug Allison. "I'm really proud of the boys for sticking to the game plan. Danny's goal was a supeb strike."
Denver finished with an 11-7 edge in shot attempts and 4-3 advantage in shots on goal, but it was the Paladins who created the better chances. After Denver nearly put Furman in front by deflecting a Josiah Baker cross off of the bar in the opening minutes, the Paladins' forced the Pioneers' Nick Gardner into several saves late in the half. Baker slipped Emery May behind the defense and Gardner had to come off of his line to smother a goal-bound effort with under 15 minutes to play before the break. Several minutes later, Kevin Edelmann settled a loose ball off of a corner kick at the far post only to have his point-blank effort turned away. Baker also managed his own threatening run late in the period as he carried the ball into the right side of the box before Gardner deflected his shot wide.
In the second half, both teams defended while looking for a counter attack in a final 63-plus minutes that produced just six combined shots. Furman redshirt freshman Ben Hale recorded four saves in goal to notch his second straight shutout as Furman's defense extended its shutout streak to 206:19, dating back to a 3-2 win over College of Charleston last Friday.
The Paladins' victory handed Denver, a 2016 NCAA College Cup semifinalist, its first regular season loss since Halloween night of 2014 and just its second defeat in its last 46 matches on its home field.
Furman puts its unbeaten start on the line again on Sunday at 2 p.m. EDT when the Paladins face the Air Force Falcons in Colorado Springs, Colo. Fans can follow the live stream and live statistics of Sunday's match against the Falcons (3-0-0) by logging onto FurmanPaladins.com.
The Paladins open the 2017 home schedule on September 12, at 7 p.m. versus UNC Asheville on Seagraves Field at Stone Soccer Stadium. Tickets to all Furman home matches are $5 and can be purchased at the Stone Stadium gate beginning one hour prior to kickoff or by logging onto FurmanPaladins.com.
Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information