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Ponder scores again, lifts men's soccer to AAC title game

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 9:38 pm
by PonyPride

SMU Defeats Memphis 2-1 in Double Overtime To Advance To American Athletic Conference Championship

ORLANDO (The American/SMU) – Philip Ponder chipped in the game-winning goal in the second minute of double overtime, sending No. 2 seed SMU to its second-straight American Athletic Conference Men's Soccer title game. The Mustangs prevailed 2-1 over No. 6 seed Memphis on Thursday evening.

Ponder sent the short shot over the top of Memphis goalkeeper off the pass from Talen Maples, who received a deep throw-in from Lane Warrington. The overtime victory marked the second-straight extra-time American Championship win for the Mustangs, dating back to last year's title match against UCF. Ponder has now scored four goals in the past three games, all wins, for SMU.

The Mustangs (10-4-2) advance to Saturday's Championship, where they will meet the winner of No. 1 UCF and No. 2 UConn at 7 p.m. at the UCF Soccer & Track Complex. The game will be available live on ESPN3.

Akean Shackleford buried the first goal for the Mustangs, while goalkeeper Grant Makela finished with three saves.

Memphis' lone goal came from Alexandros Ierides in the first half.

The best chances belonged to SMU for the remainder of the half, and the Mustangs evened the match as the frame ticked down. Shackleford set a ball across the box to Eddie Munjoma, and Noah Hilt fed the cross right back to the far post. Shackleford fired a one-touch volley out of the air and past the outstretched arms of Lackland for the highlight tally.

The Mustangs emerged reenergized in the second half, controlling possession for much of the first 20 minutes until the Tigers had SMU outnumbered on a counter in the 68th minute. Makela denied a close-range attempt from Memphis to keep the margin even. Memphis' push continued, and the shot total ended at an even 13 to close regulation.

Both teams managed two shots a side in the first overtime period, with Lackland and Makela make a save apiece. The Mustangs nearly ended the contest earlier, with Emil Cuello launching a rocket just wide of the net in the opening minutes of the first overtime.

SMU ended with 16 shots to Memphis' 15, with the teams combining for five corner kicks.

Re: Ponder scores again, lifts men's soccer to AAC title gam

PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2018 11:30 pm
by PonyPride
Aaaaannnnnnddddd ... it's SMU-UCF 2.0

From the AAC:

UCF Advances to American Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer Championship with 3-2 Double Overtime Win
No. 1 Knights earn thriller goal with 12 seconds left to down No. 4 UConn

ORLANDO – With 12 seconds left in double overtime, UCF’s Max Stiegwardt’s free kick bounced into the net untouched, delivering a 3-2 win for the top-seeded Knights over No. 4 UConn in the American Athletic Conference Men’s Soccer semifinals on Thursday.

Saturday’s Championship match will be a rematch of 2017, as the No. 7-ranked Knights advance to meet No. 2 seed SMU at 7 p.m. at the UCF Soccer & Track Complex. The game will be available live on ESPN3. The Mustangs will look to defend last season’s title, which they won in double overtime by a 2-1 score.

Thursday’s game-winner marked Steigwardt’s first of the season and capped three unanswered goals by the Knights (13-2-2) to overcome a 0-2 deficit at half. Cal Jennings registered the tying goal and assisted on UCF’s first tally, scored by Yoni Sorokin.

Knight goalkeeper Yannik Oettl stood tall in net with six saves, including a stop in the second overtime stanza. UConn’s netminder Gianluca Catalano was also solid, making four stops to keep the Huskies in contention.

Abdou Mbacke Thiam notched a goal and an assist for UConn (11-5-2), with Josh Burnett also tallying a goal.

An evenly-matched first half turned UConn’s way in the 29th minute, beginning when a Mbacke Thiam shot bounced off the post. Moments later, Husky freshman Ibrahima Diop intercepted an errant pass from the UCF defense and passed to Felix Metzler, who in turn played the ball forward to Burnett. Burnett found himself in a one-on-one with Oettl, and tapped in the game’s first score.

The Huskies again capitalized on a Knight defensive miscue to double the lead in the 43rd minute. This time, it was Dayonn Harris stealing the ball in UCF’s half, resulting in a cross from the right side by Blaise N’Gague. The ball found Mbacke Thiam, whose shot beat Oettl far post.

UCF narrowly missed getting on the board in the final minute, as a Louis Perez free kick from just outside the box hit the crossbar.

The Knights then wasted no time coming out of the break, halving the deficit four minutes in. A corner kick on the right side bounced to Jennings on the left, who served the ball into the box, where Sorokin headed in the goal.

Catalano and Oettl traded highlight-worthy saves to keep the score a 2-1, and the match evened into a battle in the midfield for nearly 20 minutes.

UCF finally broke the drought in the 82nd minute. Off a centering pass from Gideon Adu-Peprah, Jennings turned and created just enough space between the Husky defenders at the top of the box to rip a shot past Catalano and force overtime.

Quick ball movement gave Mbacke Thiam the chance to tee up early in the first overtime, but his shot sailed high, and Jennings followed soon after with a shot just wide.

Steigwardt’s curling free kick proved to be the only shot in the second overtime frame, hooking just inside the far post and out of the sightline of Catalano.