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Furman Rally Falls Short Against UNCG In SoCon Semifinals, 3-2

Kyle McLagan
Kyle McLagan

Greenville, S.C. -- No. 2 seed UNCG jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held on to down No. 3 seed Furman, 3-2, in the semifinal round of the Southern Conference Men's Soccer Championship Friday evening on Seagraves Field at Stone Stadium.

With the victory, UNCG improved to 10-7-2 on the season and advanced to face No. 4 seed Mercer in the SoCon Championship Match on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Stone Stadium. The match will be streamed live on ESPN3. Mercer reached the final by advancing past top-seed ETSU on penalty kicks, 4-3, following a scoreless draw earlier in the day.

"It's always tough to have the season come to an end," said Paladin head coach Doug Allison. "I'm proud of the way we battled back and proud of our seniors. We'll miss them and appreciate all they have done for our program."

Trailing 3-0 following Matt Mattis' second goal of the night at the 58:37 mark, Furman (12-5-3) mounted a wild comeback. Emery May headed in a Danny Kierath cross at 74:51 to put the Paladins on the board, and Kyle McLagan pulled Furman within a goal at 3-2 when he finished from the middle of the box off of a Dylan Rowe assist with 5:41 left in regulation.

The Paladins nearly completed the comeback when, with less than a minute left, Furman found the back of the net following a scramble in the center of the box. The goal was disallowed, however, because Furman was whistled for a hand ball on the initial shot from the top of the box.

Furman managed a 15-8 edge in total shots, while both teams registered five shots on goal. The Paladins compiled 12 corner kicks to just three by UNCG.

The Spartans grabbed the early 1-0 lead at the 27:21 mark when Nelson Oceano chipped a pass over the Paladin back line to Cyril Owolabi who slotted a shot by Furman goalkeeper Ben Hale from the left side of the box. Mattis doubled the UNCG lead with his first goal of the evening just 52 seconds into the second half. Leeroy Maguraushe played a long ball over the defense to Mattis for a one-versus-one finish against Hale.

Mattis capped the scoring for the Spartans in the 59th minute by volleying in an Austin Matthews throw-in that bounced at the top of the box.

Jon Milligan picked up the win in net for the Spartans while recording two saves. Hale stopped two shots in a losing effort for the Paladins.

Furman's Cameron Robinson and Zach Jackson were named to the All-SoCon Tournament Team.

Jordan Caskey, Furman Sports Information