HPU Men’s Soccer: High Point Silences Liberty, Moves into First Place

• High Point scored twice in the second half to defeat Liberty, 2-0, and move into first place in the Big South with two games remaining.
• Sophomore Ryan Inman and senior Ebe Kudolo registered the goals for High Point, who improved to 5-1 in conference play.
• Sophomore Keegan Meyer made three saves in net to earn his fifth shutout of the season.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – The High Point University men’s soccer team utilized two second half goals to knock off Liberty, 2-0, on Wednesday night at Vert Stadium. In the process, the Panthers moved into first place in the Big South with two games remaining in the conference season.

“Being tied in the league (with Liberty), we knew tonight was going to be a big game with three points at stake,” head coach EJ O’Keeffe said. “I thought our guys did really well. We created a couple really good looks in the first half that we weren’t able to put away, but we felt good going into halftime. We knew what we needed to continue to do (in the second half) and we found two great goals. It was a really good result and performance for our group heading down this final stretch. We need to focus on the day-to-day process and a very difficult Presbyterian team coming here on Saturday.”

The victory marked HPU’s fourth straight conference triumph and moved the Panthers (7-5-3, 5-1-0) atop the conference standings with 15 points. High Point’s two markers penetrated what was the league’s best defense statistically entering the match, as the Flames (9-4-1, 4-2-0) yielded multiple goals for just the third time all season.

From the outset, HPU controlled possession and dictated tempo. The Panthers earned the first chance in the game’s ninth minute when redshirt-sophomore Bana Ganidekam corralled a corner kick and sent a shot just high over the crossbar. Liberty countered with a pair of shots around the midway mark of the first half that were saved by redshirt-sophomore keeper Keegan Meyer.

Meyer ended up making three saves in the first half, including the third on a free kick from outside of the penalty area in the 39th minute. High Point countered with a free kick from 20 yards away in the 42nd minute that was saved by Liberty’s James Knoebel.

The Panthers ended up using a free kick to take the lead in the match in the 56th minute. Sophomore Siggi Benonysson was taken down for a foul 25 yards away from the goal, establishing the set piece. Sophomore Ryan Inman stepped up and blasted a laser right side past Knoebel for his second goal of the year and a 1-0 edge.

Liberty responded following the tally by controlling possession. The Flames fired five shots in an eight-minute stretch, although none were on target. Liberty’s best chance to draw even came in the 71st minute when Kevin Mendoza attempted to go near side, but rang the ball of the post.

High Point eventually put the game away in the 82nd minute on a goal by senior Ebe Kudolo. Sophomore Jonathan Bolanos calmly waded through the left side of the attacking third before sending a pristine through ball to the top of the box, where Kudolo bombed a shot to the right corner of the net for his second marker of the year.

HPU edged Liberty in shots, 10-9, and shots on goal, 5-3, on the night. Meyer earned his fifth clean sheet of the year with his three first half saves. High Point has now scored multiple tallies in three straight, and four its last five, matches after doing so three times in the first 10 games of the year.

The Panthers now turn their attention to Senior Night on Saturday against Presbyterian at 7 p.m. High Point will honor its five-member senior class prior to its final home regular season match.