Knight's Golden Goal Sends No. 3 Seed Clayton State to PBC Semifinals With 2-1 Overtime Win Over Flagler
By Joshua J. Darling
MORROW, Ga. - A total of 70 career games, 34 at Laker Field, and senior defender Jordan Knight (Javea, Spain) picked the most opportune moment for his first career goal as he sent No. 3 Seed Clayton State (14-5-0, 5-2-0 PBC) to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Semifinals for a third straight season with a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 6 Seed Flagler (4-12-1, 3-4-0 PBC) in an NCAA Division II men's soccer game on Tuesday, November 12.
Facing a team that just decimated No. 21 Lander to even make the field, the Lakers did not come in taking their quarterfinal opponent lightly. It was just last year that they were in that position and upset No. 3 Seed North Georgia in a shootout.
That being the case, Clayton State came out firing - literally - as they ripped off three shots in the first nine minutes and drew a pair of corner kicks. It would be the second one that would do the damage, however, as sophomore midfielder Jack Stevens (Brisbane, Australia) lined up to take it.
He placed the ball directly in front of the goal mouth where one of the most dangerous goal scorers in the Southeast Region awaited. Already with 16 goals on the year, and second in the region, redshirt-senior midfielder Ryan King (County Durham, England) tied for the lead in that category as he drove the ball home to give the Lakers a 1-0 lead at the 15:52 mark.
That lead would hold up through the rest of the first half and nearly 20 minutes into the second before the Saints would break through with the equalizer. On a ball up the left side by Jonas Schmitt, Flagler's Peik Koskinen raced ahead and was able to play a ball into the right corner to deadlock it at 1-1 with 64:51 gone by. From there the teams would combine for only four shots, three by the Lakers, and only one on frame to head to overtime.
The extra session would see Flagler's Owen Punselie send one wide left in the 93rd minute before Joran Osland put one on frame a little more than a minute later that required a save by junior goalkeeper Theo Blachon (St. Etienne, France). As it turned out, that would end up being a monumental save as it set the stage for a tremendous finish.
Approaching the final minute of overtime, sophomore forward Brad Kay (Manchester, England) sprinted down field along the left sideline. From there he delivered a ball to the right corner of the net - to an unexpected recipient. Waiting there, up from his defensive backfield position, was Knight.
He proceeded to drive the ball into the back left corner, not only for his first career goal in 70 games but also to lock up a PBC Semifinal berth for a third straight season with a thrilling 2-1 win.
Koskinen's goal and Schmitt's assist accounted for the only offense for the Saints while current PBC Player of the Week Dan McGuire led the team with five shots, including three on net. In goal, Andrea Lubbia played all 99:03, making six saves while allowing both goals to end the season at 4-11-1.
For Clayton State it would be a tale of opposite ends of the spectrum as King, with 29 career goals, and Knight with now just one, would lead the way with a score apiece. Stevens and Kay would deliver assists on those, respectively, while King led the way with five of the Lakers' 16 shots, accounting for two of the eight they would put on frame. Kay added four attempts with half of those on net.
In between the pipes Blachon was as strong as ever as he went the distance, making four saves and allowing just the one score in a pressure packed affair. That effort moved his record on the season to an impressive 14-5.
"I'm proud of our guys and how they responded," said head coach Pete Petersen. "That was a tough situation with the temperature and the play of our opponent and they got the job done. Really happy to see how Brad [Kay] got back in there and stepped up when we needed him to and happy to see Jordan come through. Great effort."
The Lakers have now earned themselves not only a third straight trip to the Peach Belt Conference Tournament Semifinals, but a third consecutive date with No. 21 Lander. After having met in each of the past two seasons, they'll get together again in Augusta, Georgia at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 15.
The winner of that game, set to be held at Blanchard Woods Park, will advance to the PBC Championship Game on Sunday, November 17 with an automatic berth to the 2019 NCAA Division II Tournament on the line.
Clayton State and Lander have met in the postseason on November 3, 2017 (5-1 LU) and November 2, 2018 (2-0 No. 7 LU) ... King tied Wingate's Paul Ngongo for the Southeast Region lead in goals with 17 and is now just one point behind him with 36.
Patriots blank Nighthawks 2-0 to advance in PBC Tournament
By Michael Hawkins
FLORENCE, SC – Freshman midfielder Alvaro Zamora scored in the 10th minute and sophomore forward Sidney Warden added an insurance tally in the 51st minute, while junior goalkeeper Maximiliano Rocco posted his school-record 10th shutout of the year as fourth-seeded Francis Marion University blanked fifth-seeded University of North Georgia 2-0, Tuesday night (Nov. 12) in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 Peach Belt Conference Men's Soccer Tournament.
Francis Marion ups its record to 13-4-1, the most wins for the program in 11 seasons. First-year head coach Luis Rincon's squad advances to face top-seeded and ninth-ranked Young Harris College in Friday's 5 p.m. semifinal at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga. The tournament title match is set for Sunday at 3 p.m., also in Evans.
FMU outshot the Nighthawks 19-7, including a commanding 9-1 edge over the opening 45 minutes. The Patriots held a slight 4-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Rocco registered four saves, most relatively easy, en route to his 10 shutout breaking the old Patriot mark of nine set by Mike Warn during the 2014 campaign.
UNG ends its season at 6-10-1. Nighthawk keeper Luis Lepervanche recorded six saves.
The opening score came at 9:29 after Zamora took a lay-off from sophomore Nestor Nunez at midfield, made a long run down the left side of the field, then cut back, and fired a12-yard shot into the netting near the far post. It was his fifth score of the year.
The Patriots had several opportunities to double the margin before halftime, but came up empty. Senior midfielder Travis Cooke tried a chip shot over an on-coming Lepervanche in the 20th minute, but the attempt sailed wide right of the open net. At 26:15, Warden sent a 16-yard blast at the UNG keeper that he was able to push over the crossbar with a two-handed save.
Beginning late in the 39th minute, Warden had back-to-back shot attempts from inside the penalty are, but Lepervanche stopped one and the other was blocked and deflected out for a corner kick. On the ensuing corner by sophomore Oliver Peters, Cooke's high kick from close range sailed over the crossbar.
Warden finally upped the margin to 2-0 with a pwerful strike from 14 yards out on the right side that bulleted into the upper netting. Cooke's through ball led to the tally. Warden is now second on the FMU squad with six goals and leads the Patriots with 16 points.
At the 54:52 mark, North Georgia's Andrei Bajura tried to catch Rocco off-balance as he took a quick restart on a free kick from 40 yards out and went for goal, but the attempt flew wide right. Less than a minute later, Donovan Odier's hard shot from 19 yards sailed over the crossbar.
Cooke looked to add another insurance goal in the 57th minute with a header from the 6-yard box, but Lepervanche was up to the challenge and pushed the ball over the crossbar for a Patriot corner kick.
The Nighthawks had one last serious chance to cut the margin in half, with a free kick from close range in the 76th minute. Jordan Day took the set piece from 19 yards out on the right side and his shot was on target, but Rocco denied it and the resulting save ended in a Nighthawk corner.
Warden and Cooke each had five shots for the Patriots.