HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team continued its impressive start to the 2012 campaign with a 6-0 win over Northern Kentucky to clinch the Flash Gordon Motors Invitational at Vert Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Five different players scored for the Panthers who improve to 3-0-0 on the season.
“I am really pleased with the team’s performance today,” head coach Dustin Fonder said. “We had a plan coming into the game which was to play with high energy and enthusiasm. We were less concerned with the quality on short rest and looked at that as a bonus. I thought our offense was a reflection of a good week of training. We really feel like we can have a dangerous offense this season and this game helped illustrate that.”
Sophomore Mamadee Nyepon scored twice for High Point while seniors Shane Malcolm and Marty Stern, sophomore Taurean Greenidge and freshman Ben Burdon all chipped in with one goal. Senior Shawn Sloan quarterbacked the offense and tied an HPU Div. I single-game record with three assists on the day.
HPU controlled the game from the opening whistle and took a quick 1-0 lead in the third minute of play when Nyepon converted from close range for his first goal of the season. Sloan started the play, releasing Malcolm with a through ball into the box. Malcolm carried the ball to the endline, drawing in the center back and goal keeper, before laying off a cross to Nyepon who was making a late run to the far post. The forward tapped the ball into the empty net to give the Panthers an early 1-0 advantage.
The lead doubled to 2-0 in the 29th minute when Burdon once again provided a spark off the bench, scoring his third goal in as many games. A shot by Sloan clanged off the crossbar and bounced just in front of the goal line where redshirt-senior Ryan Bennett out-jumped his marker and headed it down to Burdon. The freshman, who had just entered eight-minutes prior, headed the ball over the keeper and into the net for to bring the score to 2-0.
The comeback effort by the Norse was made more difficult in the 32nd minute when Mohab el Tawila was shown a straight red after an altercation in the HPU box. The dismissal forced NKU to play the final 58 minutes a man short.
High Point quickly took advantage of the man advantage, controlling possession in the center of the field and creating numerous scoring chances. The Panthers broke through with their third goal in the 42nd minute when Greenidge found himself in space 30-yards from goal and unleashed a rocket of a shot into the upper 90 on the right side. The goal was the first collegiate score for Greenidge and it sent HPU into the locker rooms at the half with a 3-0 advantage.
The halftime break did little to cool the High Point offense as the Panthers continued to press forward when play resumed. HPU’s lead grew to 4-0 in the 50th minute when Nyepon scored his second goal of the contest off a pass from sophomore Leon Carby. Sloan once again initiated the play when he reversed field with a pass from the right flank over the defense to Carby on the left side of the 18. The midfielder carried the ball to the end line before laying it back to Nyepon for his second tally and first multi-goal game at High Point.
Sloan continued to direct the offense with precision and in the 71st minute the senior picked up his third assist of the contest when he slipped in Malcolm with a through ball up the middle. Malcolm cut between two defenders and ran onto the weighted ball before beating the on-rushing keeper with a shot inside the left post.
The Panthers concluded the scoring in the contest in the 76th minute when Stern scored his first goal at HPU to bring the tally to 6-0. HPU earned a free kick just outside the box and after two feints Stern sent his shot into the wall. Stern followed his shot and hammered home the goal when the rebound fell to his feet.
High Point dominated possession in the game, registering a 29-6 advantage in shots and an 11-3 edge in corner kicks. Sloan and Nyepon each put up seven shots in the contest for the Panthers while Burdon finished with four off the bench.
Redshirt-freshman keeper Kody Palmer made three saves on the afternoon to pick up his first clean sheet of the season. Palmer improves to 3-0-0 between the pipes for the Panthers. A.J. Fleck made the start for the Norse and was charged with the loss despite playing just 11:17.
This is just the second time since moving to Div. I in 1999 that HPU has started a season with a 3-0-0 record, previously accomplishing the feat in 2009.
The Panthers will return to the practice pitch for the next five days as they prepare to head to Annapolis, Md., to face off with Navy on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. The game will serve as the first-ever meeting between the two squads.