Panthers Dominant In 4-1 Win Over Upstate
from Mark Pinkerton | Assistant Director of Communications, High Point University
• High Point University men’s soccer opens Big South play with a bang this Tuesday, knocking off USC Upstate 4-1 on the road
• Ilias Kosmidis and Siggi Benonysson each had a pair of goals on the night, the Panthers’ first four-goal effort of 2018
SPARTANBURG, S.C.- High Point University men’s soccer opened its conference season with a decisive win over hosts USC Upstate this Tuesday, beating the Spartans by a final of 4-1.
The Panthers looked to be shaking off a little rust in the opening stages of the contest, with the Spartans controlling play in the opening 20 minutes. Upstate would be the first to get a shot on frame, testing starting goalkeeper Keegan Meyer three times in the opening half, finishing the night with seven shots on goal overall.
HPU flipped the script on the Spartans in the latter stages of the first however, drawing first blood in the 30th minute, on junior Ilias Kosmidis’ fourth goal of the season. Some sustained pressure from the Panthers forced a foul inside the penalty area, giving Kosmidis his second PK opportunity of the year. The transfer from UTRGV capitalized on his opportunity, delivering a strike down the middle of the goal frame to give his side the early advantage.
High Point continued to create opportunities in the final 15 minutes of the half, with Kosmidis adding his second goal of the contest before the end of the opening frame. Making his fifth appearance of the season, freshman midfielder Alex Abril delivered a perfect ball from the left side of the 18, giving Kosmidis a slam dunk goal at the mouth of the net for his first multi-goal effort of 2018.
“Anytime that we can get our defensive cues down, it can really get our attack going.” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe “Those first 25 to 30 minutes of that second half, I thought we were all over them. I felt that we could have found more than two goals, but I feel like the defensive prowess of our group was absolutely fantastic.”
Taking a 2-0 lead into the break, the Panthers’ ability to pressure the Spartans in their defensive third continued to produce turnovers and offensive opportunities for the visiting side. Junior forward Siggi Benonysson added his second tally of the year in the 62nd minute, slotting home HPU’s third goal of the night inside the right post, before completing the fourth brace of his career on the Panthers’ final goal just two minutes later.
A free kick from outside the 18 led to Kosmidis’ fourth shot of the night, with Benonysson cashing in on the deflected attempt to give High Point its first four-goal advantage of the season.
“In the second half our response was miles better than the first 20.” said O’Keeffe “We were able to get three points on the road, and any time you can do that, you’ll take it in the league, and we’ll turn our attention to Saturday.”
Despite the extended pressure from HPU, the home side would pull a goal back in the final 20 minutes, scoring the program’s fifth of the season on a penalty kick in the 74th. The Panthers’ large lead was too much for the Spartans to come back from however, and HPU capped off its fifth win of the year in a 4-1 rout.
>> Both Kosmidis and Benonysson had multi-goal efforts against the Spartans, the first time the club has had two players score two or more goals since its 7-0 victory over UNC Asheville in 2016 (10/15/16)
>> Abril’s assist marks his first point as a member of the Purple & White
>> Kosmidis’ assist on Benonysson’s second goal gave the junior a total of five points on the night and 12 for the season, the most of any player in the Big South
>> Meyer tied a season-high in goal with six saves on the afternoon
COMING UP NEXT
• The Panthers continue Big South play at home this Saturday, hosting Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m. on September 22nd
• HPU has lost to the Bulldogs just once in program history, holding a 10-1-4 record against GWU all-time