UNCP Victorious Over Lander, Advances In PBC Semifinals
GREENWOOD, S.C. – Transfer Sean Hoek scored the game winning goal in the 78th minute to snap an eight-game losing streak in the series with Lander, and push the UNCP men's soccer team to the semi-final round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament on Tuesday evening at the Jeff May Complex, 2-1.
Hoek registered both goals for the Braves (11-4-2) as he entered the second half with his focus on attacking the Bearcats' (8-7-2) goal. At the 59:26 mark, he tied the game up at one goal apiece and headed in his second goal of the game from the middle of the box.
The victory marks the first time since 2005 the Braves defeated Lander along with snapping a six-game losing streak in the conference tournament play for UNCP, giving the Braves their first win in the postseason since defeating USC Upstate in 2004 to become conference champions.
The Braves rushed the Lander goal in the early minutes of the first half but fell victim to a strategic Bearcat offense. Sophomore Brett Jankouskas started the momentum for the Bearcats in the fifth minute as he knocked in the first goal of the game. Jankouskas lined up for the free kick slightly in front of the box, but the ball ricocheted off the UNCP's defenders until he rebounded the block shot and sent the ball soaring through the center of the net.
UNCP strikers Hoek, Adam Smith and Sam Miles continued the push on Lander's goal as the Braves registered four shots at the half while Lander tallied three. The match proved to be an aggressive battle from the starting whistle as teams collected nine fouls along with a yellow card on Clement Dauchy with four seconds remaining in the first half.
Goalkeeper Ryan Hanson played tactical defense as he pushed a free kick by Jankouskas above the goal to keep the score tied with less than 30 minutes remaining in regulation play. Hanson grabbed five saves in his 90 minutes between the pipes, while Hoek tallied a game-high seven shots. Miles and Payne Clark collected assists on Hoek's two goals.
The Black and Gold outshot the Bearcats 13-9 as the teams combined for 18 fouls. Janakouskas led Lander with four shots while Matthew Atkinson collected five saves in goal.
"The win feels good especially after the loss on Saturday to Lander," said UNCP head coach Phil Hindson. "The guys deserve the win because they played hard and fought for the victory."
The Braves head to Evans, Ga., to finish out the PBC Tournament as they face Montevallo (11-3-4) in the semifinals on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The winners of both Friday contests will meet in Sunday's championship game at 3:30 p.m.