TIGERS FALL IN ODAC SEMIFINALS
(November 4, 2009) HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, VA – The record-setting 2009 Hampden-Sydney soccer team dropped a tough game today against the Hornets of Lynchburg College in an ODAC semifinal matchup at Miller Field. The Tigers had a one-goal halftime lead but were unable to hold it in a scrappy and physical second half.
Both teams came out ready to play from the beginning, with good opportunities for each side. Hampden-Sydney had a few good chances in the opening 20 minutes, with Bryan Hughes (Midlothian, VA/Cosby) placing a shot on goal in the sixth minute that was stopped by the keeper. Freshman Curran Blackwell (Wilson, NC/Greenfield) also had a chance in the eighth minute but his header attempt sailed just high of the goal. The Tigers were finally able to break through in the 28th minute on a goal from freshman Nick DeProspero (Midlothian, VA/Cosby). In a nice sequence of passing, DeProspero sent a ball to freshman Brandon Haynes (Raleigh, NC/Broughton) on the left wing. Haynes used some nifty footwork to get around a defender at the edge of the box and play a pass back to DeProspero, who slid to the ball and knocked it in to give Hampden-Sydney a 1-0 halftime lead.
The second half saw a rise in intensity from both teams, with neither side backing down from each other. Lynchburg was able to score a goal in the 59th minute on a long cross from the right wing deep into the box, where Michael Abbonizio had snuck in behind the defense and headed the ball past the keeper. Just seven minutes later in the 66th minute, the Hornets struck again, this time on a goal by Stephen Legg. Legg fired a shot from the right side of the box that the goalkeeper had a read on, but it deflected off the leg of a sliding defender and ricocheted into the opposite corner of the goal to give Lynchburg a 2-1 lead.
Hampden-Sydney, however, had not won 16 games this season by wilting under adversity, and the never-say-die Tigers continued to attack and create scoring opportunities. In the last 15 minutes of play, the home squad had numerous close calls on the offensive end, including a Hughes shot that was cleared off of the goal line and a Blackwell header in the 89th minute that went just wide of the goal. They were unable, however, to find the back of the net again and Lynchburg was able to hold on for the 2-1 victory. Several Tigers turned in great efforts, especially junior goalkeeper John Robert Plyler (Charlotte, NC/Myers Park), who had several brilliant saves while facing a barrage of shots during large parts of the game.
With the win, Lynchburg advances to the ODAC final against the winner of the game between Roanoke and Virginia Wesleyan. The loss dropped Hampden-Sydney's record to 16-4-0 on the season, but their record-breaking resume on the year is certainly worthy of contention for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Tigers will now wait to find out if they do in fact receive an at-large bid, which will be announced over the weekend.