Flagler Drops Braves In Conference Opener
PEMBROKE – Visiting Flagler used goals from three different players to take a comfortable lead into the halftime break, and then held off a determined UNCP squad in the second half to steal one on the road with a 3-0 victory over the Braves Saturday evening at Varsity Grounds.
The win gave Flagler (2-3-1, 2-0-0 PBC) its second win in as many Peach Belt Conference games, having officially joined the conference in July. The setback snapped the unbeaten streak for UNCP (3-3-1, 0-1-0) at three games in the first-ever meeting between the two men's soccer squads.
Johan Bergfeld, Pol Berenguer and Kevin Partel each keyed the onslaught with goals in the opening period, with Conor Killeen and Danny Burke each turning in assists. The Braves got a game-high three shots from Andy Pullin to pace the offense for the hosts.
Flagler netminder Matt Gilman stopped two of four UNCP shots on goal in tallying his first clean sheet of the season, while UNCP goalkeeper Tom Courtney booked one save in falling to 2-2-1 for the Black and Gold between the pipes this season.
“Two bad defensive decisions led directly to the first two goals, and they did a great job of finding open space to put that third one in the net,” said UNCP head coach Mike Schaeffer. “I am glad we have free admission, because we sure weren't worth paying to see tonight.”
Bergfeld found that Christmas had come early in getting his team off the mark in the fourth minute (3:44) as a long service was mishandled by Courtney and the sophomore took control of the loose ball and fired a bender that found its way to the back of the net just inside the near post. Miscommunication on a defensive clearance would spell bad news for the Braves in the 39th minute when a bad defensive clearance by the hosts found the feet of Killeen who chipped a pass to Berengeur waiting all alone in front of the goal.
The Saints would pad their lead out to 3-0 just four minutes later when the Flagler defense stifled an offensive push by UNCP and, in transition, Burke's long pass to Partel created an easy breakaway. A 1 v. 1 opportunity with Courtney moments later (42:56) would go all Partel's way.
The Braves found a handful of opportunities to get back into the game in the second period, but were unable to find a hole in the Flagler defense. Alex Allende's 75th minute corner kick would drop perfectly into the Flagler penalty area, but ensuing close-range shots by both Rondell Honora and Eirik Torgerson would be deflected out of danger by Flagler defenders.
UNCP will be back in action again on Wednesday when the Braves step back out of league play to host Lees-McRae in a 5 p.m. match-up at Varsity Grounds. Flagler will make the short trek to Saint Leo for a 5 p.m. contest on Wednesday as well.