Virginia Wesleyan Downs Hampden-Sydney Soccer 2-0
HAMPDEN-SYDNEY, VA - In a hard fought and evenly matched contest, the Virginia Wesleyan College Marlins managed to down the Hampden-Sydney Tigers soccer team 2-0 on Wednesday afternoon in Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) action from Miller Field.
About the first 10 minutes of the game, VWC controlled the action as H-SC lost the ball in the midfield several times, but the momentum slowly began to shift towards the Tigers as they got the ball into the offensive zone and a nice Bryan Talbert (Seaford, VA/York) shot was saved by Alan Hinton. From there on and for the remainder of the half, H-SC would rarely lose the ball in the midfield as the offense began passing to the feet instead of in the air and pressure defense allowed them to regain the ball when they did lose it.
The Marlins temporarily halted the momentum change with a burst of offense for a four-minute stretch from the 20th-24th minute. At 19:05, the Marlins' John McKenzie got free behind the defense for a strong scoring opportunity, but the shot was blocked off a Tiger, and then a cross into the box went just barely over the head of a Marlin. Brian Cornell then fired off a strong shot, but John Robert Plyler (Charlotte, NC/Myers Park) tipped the ball just enough to push it high over the net.
Bryan Wharton (Glen Allen, VA/Deep Run) headed the ball toward the net at the 29:30 mark, but Hinton likewise tipped it just enough to send it over the net. Wharton threatened again just a minute later as he collected a loose ball in front of the net with no one in front of him and the goal other than the goalie, but he wasn't able to get a strong leg behind it as Hinton made the save. With just under seven minutes remaining in the half, Jackson Parker (Raleigh, NC/Sanderson) made a great run down the left sideline as he beat multiple Marlins and that led to a Wharton service into the box that Chris Whiteside (Virginia Beach, VA/Frank W. Cox) collected for a shot that went narrowly wide.
Wharton had another fabulous chance at a goal as the Marlin goalkeeper came out towards Wharton. He tried to lift it over the keeper, but Hinton blocked it. Nick DeProspero (Midlothian, VA/Cosby) got the rebound, but by the time DeProspero could shoot, the goalie had gotten back in position and the shot went right at Hinton. Matt Hampton (Virginia Beach, VA/Floyd E. Kellam) got the last shot of the half for the Tigers as he headed a DeProspero corner kick towards the top left post, but a leaping Hinton was able to stop the shot to send the game into the half knotted at 0-0.
The Tigers' Bo Burns (Raleigh, NC/Leesville Road) used tremendous footwork and skills to create a dangerous opportunity for himself. In the 66th minute, he beat his defender and got a clean look at a shot, but the Marlin keeper came over and blocked it. Burns secured the rebound with the goalie away from the net, but a difficult angle and Marlin defenders swarming around him led to him sending the shot wide.
VWC would get their first goal on the scoreboard at 71 minutes as Josh Christian sent the shot past a diving Plyler and into the back of the net. The goal visibly energized Virginia Wesleyan and in the 84thminute, Pops Richards scored right in front of the net off a Brian Cornell pass into the box. A bit of controversy occurred over the goal because Wharton came over to kick it out and the referees had to discuss if the ball went all the way over the line for a goal or if Wharton saved it in time.
VWC held an advantage in shots (18-15) and fouls (6-8), but H-SC had nine corner kicks to four for the Marlins and each starting goalkeeper recorded six saves apiece. Wharton and Burns each tallied four shots while Wharton had three shots on goal.
Hampden-Sydney returns to the pitch on Saturday as they host the Washington & Lee University Generals at 1 p.m. on Miller Field in an ODAC contest.