by Beckett Bathanti – Sports Editor – firstname.lastname@example.org
Led by a tenacious offensive attack that greatly limited Brevard’s time of possession, UNC Asheville’s men’s soccer team shut out the Tornadoes 5-0 Saturday afternoon at Greenwood Field.
Prior to the game, coming off two exhibition losses that saw UNCA suffer collapses in the second half, Head Coach Matt Kern hoped his team would limit their mistakes while playing in transition.
“People tend to think of transitions as defense to offense, but offense to defense is just as important,” Kern said. “We need to be faster and not so open to attacks after turning the ball over.”
This did not seem to be much of a problem Saturday, as Brevard College never mounted a strong enough surge o offnse to capitalize on the Bulldogs’few turnovers.
The Bulldogs came out strong on offense, with junior Sam Rossabi sneaking a nifty header past the Brevard goalkeeper in minute 6.
The next goal did not come until minute 36, when sophomore midfielder Patrick Phillip scored unassisted, but Phillip made it 3-0 just a minute and 15 seconds later when he guided Quentin Reynolds’s pass into the back of the net.
Phillip did not see a lot of action last year, but will most likely see more this year, Kern said.
“We are trying to keep a more balanced rotation this year. Instead of waiting for players to get tired, we want to keep fresh legs in,” Kern said.
The two second-half goals came courtesy of juniors Kenneth Lingerfelt and Hans Lohmeyer; two veterans who figure to be important on a team boasting only one senior.
Other key players on this young team are the captains, juniors Rob May and Bobby Castro, Kern said.
May and Castro were pleased with the way the team bounced back from their two preseason losses, which came at the hands of Elon and Davidson.
“This was great to set the tone for a successful season,” May said. “This was a situation where we wanted to come out and respect our opponent like every other team, but recognize that we aren’t scared of anyone.”
The team anticipated a big game on Saturday, Castro said.
“After losing those two games, especially 5-0 to Elon, we knew we needed to come out and get a win,” Castro said. “Plus it’s our first home game and we wanted to put on a good show for our fans.”
Fans continued to trickle in throughout the game and the official attendance was nearly 400.
“We did a better job of turning to become defenders today, but there is always room for improvement,” Kern said after the game.
Last time the Bulldogs faced Brevard College in the regular season, the Tornadoes hung within one goal until the 74th minute.
“This time, I think we had a lot more possession and that really put more pressure on Brevard and was more tiring for them,” Kern said.
Despite only having to make three saves, sophomore goalkeeper Dan Jackson was very visible Saturday afternoon, flying through the air to punch away several corner kicks and jump-balls.
Taking over for Lassi Hurskainen, Jackson’s play will be crucial in determining how much success the Bulldogs have this season.
“Dan is very athletic and has quick feet. He is able to help us keep good position, and he has a quick release,” Kern said.
The Bulldogs started four freshmen on Saturday and have eight freshmen on their roster.
“I like to say we are akin to the construction on campus,” Kern said with a smile. “We’re building.”