• High Point University men’s soccer records its second shutout of the year in 1-0 win over visiting Gardner-Webb
• Defender Johnny Fenwick tallied the game-winner off a corner from Ryan Inman, the senior’s first goal of 2018
• Keegan Meyer’s clean sheet is the 15th of his career, as the Panthers move to 2-0 in conference play
HIGH POINT, N.C.- High Point University men’s soccer came out on top 1-0, in a physical contest against the visiting Gardner-Webb Bulldogs, securing their sixth win of 2018.
Entering Saturday night’s contest ranked second in the nation for yellow cards, Gardner-Webb was expected to bring a physical atmosphere to High Point on the evening. The Bulldogs didn’t disappoint, drawing their first caution of the night in the 17th minute, before ending the evening with a total of four.
Through the first 20 minutes of play, the visiting side had already committed six fouls to HPU’s two, as the Panthers’ pressure was continuously thwarted by physical play of GWU. Junior midfielder Josh Baker provided the first big opportunity of the evening however, hammering a shot from nearly 30 yards out that fooled the Bulldog keeper, but deflected off the left post for a goal kick.
After the two sides combined for just five shots in the opening 29-plus minutes, the Panthers would finally break the scoreless draw on their second corner of the contest. Senior defender Johnny Fenwick put away the first goal of his season and the fourth of his career off a ball played by Ryan Inman. The Panthers’ set pieces have provided an offensive boost this year, specifically in conference play, where two of their five goals have come from free kicks or corner kicks.
“…We talked about it a lot this week. We can find goals in set pieces,” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe. “So we worked on it quite a bit and I’m pleased for the guys that we were able to find that goal.”
Taking its 1-0 lead into the second half, High Point’s defense began to tighten during the latter 45, keeping their opponents shotless from halftime through the 72nd minute. The Panthers blocked three of the Bulldogs’ six shots on goal in the final period, accompanied by an acrobatic save from starting keeper Keegan Meyer to keep things scoreless.
“I think if we keep zeros [on the board] we’re going to be in every game, because I like our attacking presence to find at least a goal,” said O’Keeffe. “I think defensively if we can really buy into what we need to do, that will really take us to the next level as the second half of the season comes upon us.
Despite facing 11 shots on the night, Meyer was only required to make a pair of saves, as the HPU defense continued to make opportunities difficult fo the GWU side. The play of Meyer and the Panthers’ defense in the second half would help secure the home team’s second shutout win of the year, as High Point’s 1-0 win gives them a 2-0 record at the start of conference play.
>> The Panthers have never lost to Gardner-Webb in High Point, their only two losses to the team came in 2011, once in PKs during the Big South tournament, and once in Boiling Springs during the regular season
>> Freshman forward/midfield Seth DePriest-Kessler made his career debut against the Bulldogs, playing a total of 18 minutes
>> HPU’s 16 fouls on the day were one shy of tying a season-high, while GWU’s 16 were still half a dozen short of its own
>> High Point collected eight corner opportunities to Gardner-Webb’s one, the Panthers are yet to lose a game this season when they have the advantage in corner kicks
COMING UP NEXT
• The Panthers take a break from conference play, squaring off with Appalachian State at home next Tuesday at 7 p.m.
• HPU is 3-13-1 against the Mountaineers all-time, but is facing App State in the regular season for just the second time in the past decade