BUIES CREEK, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team advanced past Campbell in penalty kicks, 5-3, after playing the Camels to a thrilling 4-4 draw in the Big South Quarterfinals on Tuesday night in Buies Creek, N.C. SophomoreMamadee Nyepon had two goals and converted the game-winning PK for HPU.
“Soccer can be a crazy game at times,” head coach Dustin Fonder said. “Our guys are excited to advance on PKs. We have played some tremendous games in the past and been knocked out on PKs so maybe its our turn for some luck at the end. The game was a bit too wide open and I am sure neither team was pleased with how they defended. We definitely have some things to work on as we get ready for Coastal.”
After battling the Camels for 110 minutes in a game that featured eight goals by six different scorers, HPU went to penalty kicks for the second-straight season in the Big South tournament. The Panthers took an early lead in the PKs as junior Adam Sewell converted his attempt and Travis Golden sent his attempt off the cross bar for Campbell.
Both teams made their next three attempts with seniors Fejiro Okiomah, Shawn Sloan and Ryan Bennett converting for High Point. Up 4-3, Nyepon stepped to the spot and sent the ball to the upper right corner of the net for the win.
Campbell got the opening goal of the match off the foot of Ricki Gaez in the fifth minute of play. Bryce Miller found Gaez at the edge of the box where the forward dribbled in and beat HPU keeper Kody Palmer with a shot to the right.
The Panthers struck right back to tie the game in the 12th minute when Mamadee Nyepon scored from the middle of the box for his 11th goal of the season. Freshman Erien Campbell got space on the right flank and turned the CU outside back before crossing the ball into the box. Nyepon received the pass with his back to goal and made a quick turn before firing a shot into the net to tie the game at 1-1.
Nyepon doubled his scoring just five minutes later to put High Point ahead 2-1. Senior Todd Ray released senior Shane Malcolm with a pass out of the back to the midfielder on the right flank. Malcolm immediately crossed the ball into the box to Nyepon who collected the pass and scored his second goal of the night.
High Point appeared the grab control of the game in the 29th minute when Sloan rifled a shot into the net from 20-yards out to put the Panthers ahead 3-1. The midfielder collected an attempted clearance by the Camels at the edge of the box and took one shot before hitting a low liner into the net.
Campbell bounced back with goals in the 29th and 30th minutes to tie the game heading into halftime. Miller scored the first goal off a cross from Big South assist leader Mitchell Cardenas and Aleksi Tossavainen scored the second from inside the penalty area off a corner kick.
Following the halftime break, HPU retook the lead in the 56th minute when sophomore Leon Carby scored to put the Panthers ahead 4-3. Bennett found Carby with a long pass from midfield into the box. Carby split two defenders and chipped a shot over the onrushing keeper and into the net for the go-ahead goal.
High Point had several chances to extend the lead as Carby had a point-blank saved at the right post in the 68th minute and Nyepon had a header hit off the crossbar in the 69th minute.
The missed chances came back to haunt the Panthers when Campbell tied the game for a second time with a goal in the 79th minute by Miller. The midfielder dribbled into the penalty area from the left side of the field and beat Palmer for his second goal of the game.
HPU almost won the game just a minute later when Carby got free in the box and beat the CU keeper with a low shot but the ball hit off the inside of the post and rebounded straight back to the keeper.
The Panthers advance on to the Big South semifinals and will face No. 8 Coastal Carolina at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C., on Friday, Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. HPU fell to Costal by a score of 1-0 on the road in the final game of the regular season. The Chanticleers advanced to the semifinals with a 5-0 win over Presbyterian College.