By: Stephen Case – Staff Writer – [email protected]
After losing both games this weekend at the Radford Invitational, the UNC Asheville men’s soccer team said they came home with a renewed sense of confidence.
“We feel confident at this point actually,” junior co-captain Bobby Castro said after this weekend’s games. “We definitely figured some things out for ourselves. We didn’t quit this weekend at any point, even when things weren’t going our way.”
The Bulldogs traveled to Radford to be part of their conference rival’s annual invitational. The four teams invited were UNCA, Marshall University, Marist College and Radford University.
UNCA faced Marshall for the first time since 1995. Marshall was the only team in the nation in Division I soccer to not allow an opponent’s goal all year, until Friday night.
The Thundering Herd held off the Bulldogs to take a 2-1 win. In the loss, UNCA scored their first goal since their season opening defeat of Brevard, 5-0.
Freshman Trey Hemphill scored his first career goal from 35 yards out by nailing the ball off the right post into the net in minute 24 of the first half.
“I’m happy for Trey to score his first college goal against a great team like Marshall,” Head Coach Matt Kern said.
The Bulldogs were pleased with the way they started the game, trailing 2-1 at halftime, but came out flat in the second half, Castro said.
“As big as Appalachian State was, and as quick as UNC Greensboro was, Marshall was more dangerous than both of those teams. They had a great deal of athleticism,” Kern said.
Marshall outshot UNCA 24-9 for the game. UNCA was able to stay in the game thanks to goalkeeper Dan Jackson, who recorded seven saves.
In a losing effort, the Bulldogs gained confidence by scoring their first goal in almost a month, players said.
UNCA faced Marist on Sunday. This was the first time these two teams played one another. Round one went to Marist.
Marist defeated UNCA 4-0 by getting goals from four different players. Three goals came in the first half, when they outshot the Bulldogs 13-6.
“I think that we all had a really good feeling going into this game based on how we played on Friday,” junior co-captain Rob May said. “Today we really didn’t come out with the same intensity. I guess it goes back to a lot more things we need to work on and focus on.”
Marist and Marshall were two different teams from a match-up standpoint, Kern said
“Marist was a little bit more direct,” Kern said. “They just put the ball quickly in their attacking third and had one pretty dynamic player that scored one of their goals.”
Bulldog goalkeeper Jaron Bradley made his season debut on Sunday afternoon. He recorded six saves. Kern felt Jackson needed a break, and is comfortable with the depth at the position moving forward.
After scoring for the first time in four games, the Bulldogs came home with a good feeling about their upcoming conference schedule.
“We improved as a team and got closer, so I’m excited to see what this weekend has in store for us,” Castro said.
UNCA is now 1-6 on the season. They travel to Big South foe High Point Saturday evening.