by Beckett Bathanti – Sports Editor – [email protected]
The UNC Asheville men’s soccer team came up short against Big South Conference newcomers Longwood as the Lancers escaped with a 1-0 win Sunday afternoon at Greenwood Field.
Longwood’s only goal came in minute 74 when Devin Pierce blew a penalty kick by goalie Dan Jackson.
A very clean first half gave way to an increasingly chippy second half, with the first of six second-half yellow cards coming just three seconds after play had resumed.
Several of the calls against the Bulldogs had the coaching staff on their feet voicing their displeasure.
After the game, however, Head Coach Matt Kern was tight-lipped about the refereeing.
“You focus on what you can control. We can not control that, so I won’t comment on that,” said Kern, who drew a yellow card for arguing with a referee about the spot of a foul.
Sophomore goalie Dan Jackson said he barely saw the infraction that set up the game-winning penalty kick.
“He was kind of hidden from my view. Everyone said it was clean, but I don’t really know,” Jackson said with a shrug.
Jackson was not dwelling on the goal.
“I play the position where I need to come up big. You just have to keep your head up and move on,” Jackson said.
Offensively, the Bulldogs had co-captain Rob May back on the field after he missed a game with a quad injury.
May said he had no lingering discomfort.
“I think my quad held up pretty good. It will take a little getting used to since I haven’t practiced much this week,” May said.
Having May back adds another scoring threat for the Bulldogs, said Kern.
“He can run really well with the ball out of the midfield,” said Kern, whose Bulldogs have lost four straight matches with Sunday’s loss.
After scoring five goals in a shutout thrashing of Brevard to open the season, UNCA was outscored 10-0 in the past four games, including a 5-0 rout at the hands of UNC Greensboro.
“I think we played good soccer today. We were able to create chances,” Kern said. “We need to do a better job training on finishing and having quality services.”
May feels that more work in practice will lead to better execution on scoring opportunities.
“We need to keep working hard in practice and get more repetitions up top,” May said.
The Bulldogs played in front of another healthy crowd of students and locals on a sunny late summer afternoon.
“It’s great,” Kern said. “We’ve made a conscious effort to reach out to the community and create a friendly environment that will appeal to families. It’s great to see other students coming out to support their team. I know the players love it.”
Many of Kern’s players are active in the community.
“These are good kids off the field, and I think the community recognizes that,” Kern said.
The Bulldogs will take on Marshall University and MArist University at the Radford Invitational over the weekend.