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Furman Blanks UNCG To Claim SoCon Men’s Soccer Title, 3-0

Furman downed UNCG, 3-0, to claim its 14th SoCon Tournament title.
Furman downed UNCG, 3-0, to claim its 14th SoCon Tournament title.

Johnson City, Tenn. -- Junior Emery May netted a pair of first half goals to power No. 3 seed Furman to a 3-0 victory over No. 5 seed UNCG as the Paladins claimed their conference-record 14th Southern Conference Tournament crown Sunday afternoon at Summers-Taylor Stadium in Johnson City, Tenn.

The victory punched Furman's ticket to the 2018 NCAA Tournament and head coach Doug Allison and his squad will find out their first round destination when the tournament field is announced at 1 p.m. EST on Monday at NCAA.com.

Furman (13-6-1) opened the scoring in the 21st minute on May's eighth goal of the season, From behind the midfield stripe, senior Laurence Wyke, the tournament's most outstanding player, played a pass through the middle of the field that allowed May to split two defenders and calmly slot his left-footed shot past UNCG goalkeeper Jon Milligan at the 20:21 to put Furman in front.

Just seconds before the half hour mark, Cole McLagan and Jack Shiels got touches in the box off of a Rocky Guerra corner kick before May nodded the bouncing ball past Milligan from inside six yards at 29:48 to double the lead. The header marked the team-best ninth score of the season for May.

Ben Hale, the 2018 SoCon Goalkeeper of the Year, kept Furman in front with a pair of key second half saves. The first came two minutes into the second period when it appeared Miles Fenton's clearance header was ticketed for the corner before Hale's diving deflection sent the ball out for a corner kick. Midway through the half, Hale made another diving save at his right post to keep the Spartans off the board.

With under four minutes left in regulation, Connor Hubbard picked out Conor Sloan on the left side of the box and the Murrells Inlet, S.C., product tucked his shot away in the far right-hand corner to seal the Paladins' 14th SoCon championship.

Hale finished with five saves to earn his seventh clean sheet of the season, while Milligan recorded three saves for the Spartans (8-9-2).

UNCG compiled a 12-6 edge in total shots and 5-4 advantage in shots on goal.

The SoCon Tournament title marked the first for the Paladins since winning back-to-back championships in 2014 and 2015. The 2015 championship was also secured at Summers-Taylor Stadium.

SoCon Men's Soccer Championship All-Tournament Team
Jake Mezei, Mercer
Kobe Perez, Mercer
Nick Spielman, ETSU
Cameron Woodfin, ETSU 
Josh Masten, UNCG
Alex Henderson, UNCG
Austin Matthews, UNCG
Jack Shiels, Furman
Cameron Robinson, Furman
Rocky Guerra, Furman
Laurence Wyke, Furman

Most Outstanding Player 
Laurence Wyke, Furman

Pinnacle Award (highest cumulative GPA among championship-eligible student-athletes on winning team)
Sean Langan, Furman

2018 Men's Soccer Championship
Wednesday, Oct. 24
First Round (at higher seeds)
Match 1: No. 7 VMI 1, No. 6 Belmont 2
Saturday, Nov. 4 Quarterfinals (at higher seeds)
Match 2: No. 4 Wofford 0, No. 5 UNCG 1
Match 3: No. 3 Furman 4, No. 6 Belmont 2
Friday, Nov. 2 Semifinals (Summers-Taylor Stadium, Johnson City, Tenn.)
Match 5: No. 5 UNCG 1, No. 1 Mercer 0
Match 6: No. 2 ETSU 1. No. 3 Furman 2 (OT) 
Sunday, Nov. 11 Final (Summers-Taylor Stadium; Johnson City, Tenn.)
Match 7: No. 5 UNCG 0, No. 3 Furman 3,