• High Point men’s soccer team recorded its third-straight clean sheet, the longest scoreless stretch since doing so in four straight games in 2015.
• Sophomore Jaime Vasconcellos scored his second goal of the season in the 59th minute, accounting for the only tally of the night.
• The victory was the fifth in a row for HPU, the longest such streak since the 2010 regular season championship campaign. HPU will host a Big South semifinal on Nov. 8 against a TBD opponent.
HIGH POINT, N.C. – A familiar script behind tremendous defense and a timely goal led the High Point University men’s soccer to its fifth-straight win, 1-0, over Longwood on Wednesday night at the Longwood Athletics Complex. The triumph was HPU’s third-straight shutout to help finish off the campaign as outright Big South champions.
“We were really good in Big South play this year,” head coach EJ O’Keeffe said. “The guys bought into that and we were effective. Tonight was a great night, and obviously we played some different guys, but we got a good result. We managed the game exceptionally well once we got the goal, probably the best we’ve done all year. I feel like we have a lot of momentum heading into the tournament having won five straight. I’m excited to start the second season next Wednesday at Vert Stadium.”
The Panthers’ (9-5-3, 7-1-0) fifth-straight win is the longest for the program since 2010. Additionally, HPU was victorious for the sixth-straight conference match, the longest such stretch since 2010. The last three victories have all come via clean sheet, marking the first time that task has been accomplished since four consecutive shutouts in 2015. Sophomore Keegan Meyer recorded his seventh clean sheet of the campaign, finishing the year as the conference’s top keeper in terms of GAA (0.82) and save percentage (.794).
“I keep saying that I believe we have the best center backs and best goalkeeper in the league,” O’Keeffe said. “Fortunately enough, they have proved me right day in and day out. Those three guys (Johnny Fenwick, Rashid Tetteh, and Meyer) are fantastic along with Jonathan Ware and Ryeong Choi, who have been really good. That’s what it takes in do-or-die games. You have to be able to defend. If you do that, you’re in good shape.”
Neither team was able to get much of a threat offensively early in the match. Junior Johnny Fenwick headed a corner from sophomore Ryan Inman that was saved in the seventh minute, accounting for HPU’s only shot on goal until the 42nd minute. Longwood (1-15-2, 1-6-1) put just one shot on net in the opening stanza.
High Point came out of the locker room and dominated a majority of the possession in the second half. The tilting of the field ultimately led to the lone goal of the match in the 59th minute. Redshirt-junior Justen Shear won a 50-50 ball near midfield and threaded a pass to senior Poli Rodriguez. The forward then waited patiently for sophomore Jaime Vasconcellos to make a diagonal run towards the box where Vasconcellos received the pass and went high right side past the Longwood keeper. It was the second goal of the year for Vasconcellos and his first game-winner.
The Panthers continued to press and limit Longwood’s chances. HPU held a 9-3 edge in shots in the second half and forced the Lancers’ pair of keepers to make three saves after halftime. Senior Ebe Kudolo and Shear had great chances to add to the lead in the final 10 minutes, but were stopped by Lance Da Silva.
High Point finished the match with a 12-7 edge in shots overall, including 6-2 in on-target attempts. Meyer made a save in each half to secure the shutout.
With the regular season complete, the Purple & White now turn their attention to the Big South Championship with home field advantage in tow. The Panthers will host a semifinal match on Wednesday, Nov. 8 against the winner of a quarterfinal match to be played between No. 4 seed Liberty and No. 5 Gardner-Webb on Sunday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.