by Beckett Bathanti – Sports Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
The men’s soccer team found themselves outmatched three times this week. UNC Asheville was outscored 9-0 over the course of the week, including a 5-0 loss to UNC Greensboro Sunday afternoon.
“The problems were both defensive and offensive,” said Head Coach Matt Kern, following the loss against UNCG.
Co-Captain Bobby Castro felt the team as a whole was lacking.
“We just need to focus on working better as a collective. Sharper play and movements will bring better results,” Castro said.
The Spartans boasted twice as many 6-foot players as the Bulldogs.
“I would say they are about average for the league, and we are pretty small,” Kern said.
Their size also put them at a disadvantage when they faced Appalachian State earlier in the week.
“They (Appalachian) had 11 guys 6’2” and over, and we had one, so their aerial game gave us some trouble,” Kern said. “Our aerial game was not our strong point.”
Despite the size disadvantage, the Bulldogs held the Mountaineers to a 0-0 tie at the half and were within one goal until minute 84, when ASU converted a penalty kick and followed it with another goal a minute later.
The Mountaineers went on to win 3-0.
Aug. 27’s match against USC Upstate was much more even, but a goal by Upstate in minute 23 proved too much for UNCA to overcome, and the Bulldogs fell 1-0.
The Bulldogs were at a disadvantage in the second half against UNCG after freshman Trey Hemphill’s ejection in the closing minutes of the first half.
Following a no-call on a hard play near the penalty box that had the Bulldog coaching staff on their feet and Hemphill writhing on the ground, Hemphill exacted his revenge.
As UNCG’s Maximilian Schulz crossed the ball back toward the middle, Hemphill slid hard into Schulz well after the ball was gone, leaving Schulz on the ground and earning himself a red card.
“He whacked him pretty good. He deserved to be sent off,” Kern said.
Hemphill was not allowed to return to the game, and the Bulldogs had to play a man down in the second half.
Hemphill is also suspended for the next match and Kern and the coaching staff will determine further discipline later in the week.
“We will talk about it as a staff. I need to think about it for a while,” Kern said. “He suffered what we like to call a ‘lapse in competitive maturity.’”
A bright spot in the loss to UNCG was speedy freshman Rayon Gibbs’ performance.
“He is dangerous running, and we are trying to get him to start receiving the ball behind the back four,” Kern said.
Gibbs had several brilliant runs on goal, fending off several physical Greensboro defenders, but never made it to the back of the net.
“I think we just have to keep going at it and attacking,” Gibbs said.
The Bulldogs were outshot 25-6 on Sunday.
“If we keep working and pushing, we will start getting goals. We deserve it,” Gibbs said.