Benonysson Beats Buzzer, Boosts HPU MSOC to Big South Title

• Sophomore Siggi Benonysson booted in a rebound with 2.4 seconds remaining to give High Point a 1-0 victory over Presbyterian.
• The victory clinched the No. 1 seed in the Big South tournament for the Panthers, and at least a share of the Big South regular season title.
• The regular season championship is the second in the Div. I era for HPU, and the first since 2010.

HIGH POINT, N.C. – With time running out in regulation, the High Point University men’s soccer team pulled off one of the most dramatic wins in program history, defeating Presbyterian, 1-0, on a goal by sophomore Siggi Benonysson with 2.4 seconds remaining on Saturday night at Vert Stadium. The victory clinched the Big South regular season title for the Panthers, who will be the No. 1 seed in the upcoming Big South Tournament.

“Our guys showed absolutely great resiliency,” head coach EJ O’Keeffe said. “It was an incredibly hard-fought game. Presbyterian had some great tactics coming into tonight and it wasn’t always pretty. Late-season and tournament games have a tendency to be just like this. Our guys stayed focused all the way through until the final seconds and found a goal. It’s something we preached all year long. I’m so immensely happy for our players, our alumni, our staff, and our administration. This regular season championship is about more than just one season.”

The final scramble started with a goal kick by Presbyterian (5-8-2, 3-3-1) with 34 seconds left. High Point (8-5-3, 6-1-0) won the ball and sent a long pass ahead to Benonysson. The Presbyterian defense was able to clear the ball far beyond the goal line, resulting in a corner kick with 20 seconds remaining. Redshirt-junior Justen Shear quickly passed the ball in to senior Poli Rodriguez, who centered the ball to junior Johnny Fenwick. The defender fired from 25 yards away with eight seconds left and had the shot blocked down into the box.

From there, Benonysson, who was still hanging around the goalmouth from the prior opportunity, raced to the ball to the left of the 6′ box and beat the keeper to the spot. The sophomore then popped it to the roof of the goal over the prone Presybterian keeper, setting off a raucous celebration for the near-buzzer beater. It was the first goal of the season for Benonysson.

The Blue Hose smashed the ensuing kickoff toward the High Point net, but the attempt was well wide, igniting another celebration. The win was High Point’s fourth straight, second via shutout. It also clinched the second Big South regular season title in program history for the Panthers, and the first since 2010.

Neither team was able to create much offensive momentum throughout the entire match. Prior to the final two shots, the teams combined for only 13 shots in the match and four in the second half. Presbyterian had a free kick from outside of the box in the 87th minute that qualified as their best chance of the evening. High Point’s wall was able to nullify the opportunity, deflecting it away to the sideline.

High Point finished with a 10-5 edge in shots, including a 3-2 margin in on-target attempts. Redshirt-sophmore Keegan Meyer made two saves for his second straight shutout and sixth of the campaign.

HPU has ensured the No. 1 seed in the Big South tournament and will host a semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. if the Panthers were to advance, they would host the Big South Championship game on Sunday, Nov. 12. Prior to the that, High Point will complete the regular season on Wednesday at Longwood. Kickoff from Farmville, Va. is scheduled for 6 p.m.