HPU Men’s Soccer Falls to Appalachian State, 1-0, in Exhibition Finale

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team fell to Appalachian State, 1-0, Saturday evening in the Panthers’ exhibition finale before 1,301 fans at Vert Stadium.

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The game was a scoreless affair until the final minute of play, when a HPU handball led to a converted penalty shot from ASU’s Alex Herbst with four seconds remaining.

The Panthers held advantages in shots (15-11) and corners (4-2) in the game but could not capitalize on a series of strong chances in the second half.

“We’re pleased we got a hard-fought exhibition in tonight. The crowd was fantastic and it really gave our guys energy,” head coach Dustin Fonder said. “We schedule Appalachian State every year because we know they’re a tough opponent and we want to see where we are heading into the regular season.”

Junior Austin Yearwood led HPU with three shots, two of which he put on goal. Senior Mamadee Nyepon added three shots (one on goal), while sophomore Renato Punyed notched three shots in 58 minutes on the field.

Junior goalkeeper Kody Palmer played the full 90 minutes in goal for the Panthers and made five saves on the night.

“It’s unfortunate that the game didn’t end in a draw, but it’s a good thing for us to build on because I don’t think we played that well,” Fonder said. “This way, we can go think about the loss for a week, learn from it and get better.”

HPU threatened early in the game, after a shot from Yearwood led to a pair of corner kicks in the eighth and ninth minutes. After 30 minutes of back and forth action, Appalachian State put a trio of shots on goal at 39′, 41′ and 44′, but Palmer made stops on all three attempts to ensure a 0-0 tie entering the half.

ASU took a corner two minutes into the second half, leading to a shot from Donovan Japp that was saved by Palmer.

The Panthers stormed back three minutes later with a barrage of scoring opportunities. Nyepon ripped a shot high at 50′, then junior Ben Burdon fired an attempt two minutes later that was saved by ASU’s Paul West.

HPU’s best opportunity came in the 55th minute, when Nyepon rifled a shot right at West, then took the rebound and missed just wide.

Yearwood put forth another strong attempt for HPU at 76′ that was saved by West and an attempt on goal from freshman Tony Murillo at 85′ also was rejected by the Mountaineers’ goalkeeper.

The Panthers failed to convert on a corner at 87′, and ASU put the penalty shot in the back of the net with four seconds left to take the victory under the lights.

HPU opens the 2014 regular season Friday night (Aug. 29) against CAA foe UNC Wilmington inside Vert Stadium. Game time is set for 7 p.m. For ticket information, call (336) 841-9276 or click here.