MT. PLEASANT, S.C. - The College of Charleston men's soccer team held off East Tennessee State University in a thrilling opening-round match of the 2010 Men's Soccer Championship. The Cougars built a 3-0 lead before surrendering two goals but preserved the 3-2 result.
The win advances CofC (11-4-3) to the second round of the tournament where they will face tournament No. 1 seed Louisville at the Cardinal Park Track and Soccer Complex on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 7 p.m.
"I'm really proud of our team tonight, especially of their fight and character in the second half," said head coach Ralph Lundy. "East Tennessee State is an excellent soccer team and played with a lot of energy and really challenged us. They put a lot of pressure on us, especially in the second half, but we were up to the challenge."
The Cougars were the more possessive team in the contest and did well to hold the ball in an effort to let their opportunities open up. As a result, the CofC was outshot, 15-12, but was able to make better use of the shots they took.
The Cougars were the better team in the early going and had ETSU on their heels from the onset. CofC inevitably broke through in the 24th minute when Ralphie Lundy (Mt. Pleasant, S.C.) sent a free kick into the box from 35 yards away where Shawn Ferguson (Rock Hill, S.C.) elevated above the crowd and headed the ball over the keeper and into the net.
Less than five minutes of game clock later, Andy Craven (St. Simon's Island, Ga.) took advantage of a defensive miscue and streaked all by himself down the right side of the field. With the defense closing in from his left, he made one final move to beat the keeper and find the open net, putting CofC up 2-0.
The Cougars continued the onslaught in the 38th minute when Francis Twohig (St. Simon's Island, Ga.) unexpectedly rocketed a shot from 35 yards away and perfectly found the upper-right corner of the net to send the Cougars into the locker room up 3-0.
ETSU was not deterred, however, and pushed forward in the second half. In the 57th minute, the Bucs were awarded a penalty kick and Aaron Schoenfeld capitalized to the right-hand side of the goal.
Then in the 71st minute, ETSU drew even closer when Jaron Westbrook fired a low line drive from 35 yards which took a deflection along the way and found the back of the net, drawing the score to 3-2.
Though ETSU had some near misses down the stretch, that was as close as CofC would allow them to come as they closed out the match by the same score.
Kees Heemskerk (Zaandam, Holland) was brilliant in net once again for CofC and made five saves on the night.
"The thing I am most proud of tonight with this team is they kept their composure and fight, even when we had the pressure on us," said Lundy. "The second half couldn't have been scripted better for ETSU; they had the momentum but our kids managed to step up to the challenge.
"We had a lot of fight in us tonight and I couldn't be more pleased with the fight and heart of this team tonight."