HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team dropped the final game of the High Point Plaza Classic to Western Illinois by a score of 2-1 on Sunday afternoon in Vert Stadium. Junior Ben Burdon scored for the Panthers in the loss.
“This was obviously a tough loss today,” head coach Dustin Fonder said. We played better this weekend than we did last weekend so that is a positive to take away. I liked the energy that we played with to start the game and it was unfortunate to give up the first goal against the run of play. At halftime, we challenged the guys to come out and chase the game, which they did and we were able to equalize. Unfortunately, we let the game get too stretched and it cost us.”
High Point drops to 2-2-1 on the season with the loss while Western Illinois moves to 2-3-1.
The Leathernecks outshot HPU by a slim margin at 13-12. High Point ended the day with a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 6-4 edge in corner kicks.
Redshirt-junior Kody Palmer made one save in the loss, dropping to 2-2-1 on the season. Yves Dietrich made three saves to earn his second win of the season.
Western Illinois got the first goal of the day when Jacob Bevan scored in the 26th minute to put the Leathernecks ahead, 1-0. Oscar Ortega hit a cross from the left side to the near post where Bevan chipped it over HPU keeper Kody Palmer for the score.
Burdon tied the game in the 56th minute with his first goal of the season. Freshman Ebe Kudolo hit a 50-yard pass over the defense to set Burdon free on goal. The midfielder carried the ball towards the box before hitting a shot from just outside the penalty area past the Leatherneck keeper who had come off his line.
High Point nearly took the lead just five minutes later on a header by sophomore Renato Punyed but was denied by a fingertip save from Dietrich. Punyed connected on a header off a free kick by freshman Irvin Ramirez, knodding it back towards the left post. Dietrich dove and just pushed the ball past the post to keep the game knotted at 1-1.
Western Iliinois retook the lead in the 79th minute on a header by Drew Whalen. Bevan found space on the left and lofted a cross to the far post. Whalen out jumped the HPU defense and headed the ball back to the left post for his first goal of the season.
High Point pressed forward looking for an equalizer but was unable to put a shot on frame in the closing minutes.
Senior Mamadee Nyepon and Kudolo were both named to the High Point Plaza Classic All-Tournament Team.
The Panthers return to Vert Stadium for their next game on Saturday, Sept. 20, when they play host to West Virginia. The Panthers and Mountaineers played to a 1-1 draw last season in Morgantown, West Virginia. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.