• High Point completed its non-conference scheduled with a 1-0 setback to Loyola University Maryland on Wednesday night
• Redshirt-junior Justen Shear and sophomore Siggi Benonysson led the Panthers with a pair of shots on goal
• HPU held Loyola without a shot in the first half and limited the Greyhounds to five shots on the night
HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team showcased a strong defensive effort, but saw visiting Loyola score early in the second half to escape with a 1-0 victory on Wednesday night at Vert Stadium.
“I thought we were pretty good tonight, but it was a little bit of the same old story,” head coach EJ O’Keeffe said. “We created quite a few really good looks, but the ball didn’t go in the back of the net. They created one chance off a counter and a mistake on our end and were able to score. As a team, we’ve got to clean some things up, start scoring goals, and have a better response when adversity does hit us. It’s a quick turnaround for Winthrop on Saturday so we need to get prepared with three points in the league at stake.”
High Point (4-5-3) was dominant in the opening stanza of the match, controlling a majority of the possession. The control was showcased by HPU holding Loyola (7-4-1) without a shot attempt in the first 45 minutes. It was the first shotless half for a Panthers’ Div. 1 opponent since Sep. 27, 2014 when UNC Asheville was held without an attempt in the second half.
However, the tenor quickly changed in the second half when the Greyhounds scored on their first shot of the match. Following a turnover at midfield, Brian Saramago and Barry Sharifi worked a give-and-go sequence to get free near the top of the box. Sophomore goalkeeper Keegan Meyer came off his line to challenge Sharifi, but he was able to usher it to Aldo Ruiz, who slid a shot far side past the prone Meyer to give Loyola a 1-0 advantage.
Loyola put three more shots towards Meyer in the ensuing 10 minutes before High Point regained control of the possession. In the 60th minute, redshirt-junior Justen Shear stayed onside and had a solo break against the keeper, but had one touch too strong that was swallowed up by Chase Vosvick.
HPU had a similar chance in the 83rd minute to tie the match. Sophomore Johnny Fenwick sent in a long arcing ball from near midfield that sophomore Siggi Benonysson was able to get a touch on. However, Vosvick was positioned perfectly to deny the opportunity.
The Panthers finished with an 8-5 advantage in shots, including 6-4 in shots on net. Meyer finished with three stops on the night to keep the Purple & White in the match. HPU earned six corners kicks to the Greyhounds’ two.
High Point returns to conference play for the remainder of the season, starting with a home affair against Winthrop on Saturday night at 7 p.m. The game will be streamed on the Big South Network.