Pineda Overtime Winner Lifts HPU MSOC To Fifth Straight

• High Point University men’s soccer continues its winning streak with a 2-1 overtime victory against UNC Asheville
• Freshman Tony Pineda pocketed the game-winner with six seconds remaining in the second period of overtime
• Junior Ryan Inman secured his first goal of the year, finishing the night with a career-high three points

HIGH POINT, N.C.- High Point University men’s soccer was forced to play from behind for just the third time this season, coming back from a one-goal deficit to defeat visiting UNC Asheville by a final of 2-1. The Panthers’ victory came in overtime for the second occasion this year, with freshman Tony Pineda putting away the game-winner with less that 10 seconds remaining in the second extra time period.

“It took a little bit longer than we would have liked,” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe “but the guys bought in and were committed to the cause. I’m unbelievably proud of the group and their mentality, to come out with three points and win that game.”

The Bulldogs got the majority of the chances in the early stages, forcing starting goalkeeper Keegan Meyer to make his first save of the night during the 22nd minute. It would be the visiting side to open the scoring, sending home the team’s first tally against the Panthers since 2011. UNCA’s score in the 29th minute would prove to be the difference at halftime, as HPU was held without a shot in the remaining minutes before the break.

The second half would belong solely to the Panthers however, as the home side opened the half with three unanswered attempts at net. Frustrated with High Point’s onslaught of offensive pressure, the Bulldogs fouled 11 times in the latter 45, including a tackle just outside the 18 that would lead to HPU’s first score of the night.

With just seven minutes remaining in the match, junior midfielder Ryan Inman lined up for a set piece just two yards outside the 18. Taking the chance with his right foot Inman laced a curling ball directly into the left upper-90, well out of reach of the UNCA keeper. The strike was Inman’s first goal of 2018, giving the English-native his third point-scoring performance of his past four appearances.

Just seconds after Inman’s tally, UNCA suffered its first red card of the year, falling to 10 men just minutes before the night’s match extended to overtime. Playing a man down, the Bulldogs seemed content in playing for a draw, pushing all participating players back to defend goal in extra time.

The Panthers were in complete control of the two overtime periods, outshooting the visitors 7-1. The home team’s superior effort eventually led to the night’s game-winner, coming on yet another Ryan Inman corner.

Already securing helpers off corner kicks against both Gardner-Webb and Winthrop, Inman lined up for the final play of the night, delivering a looping ball with just 11 ticks remaining in the second half of OT. Junior forward Siggi Benonysson would be the first to get his head on the delivery but his deflected shot appeared to be aimed just wide of the left post. A streaking Tony Pineda would make final contact with the ball before it crossed the endline however, heading in his third of the year with just six seconds remaining.

“We were in this situation before, against UNCG, and we were able to come back,” said Pineda after the match. “That’s what this team has. We have the spirit to never give up and just keep coming at the end and battling through it all.”

The freshman’s ‘golden goal’ would give the Panthers the 2-1 win and their fifth consecutive victory, as HPU continues its perfect run in conference play with a 4-0-0 record.

>> UNC Asheville’s goal not only ended the side’s scoreless drought against the Panthers, but put an end to HPU’s 315 minutes of consecutive shutout soccer
>> Inman finished his night with a career-high three points and a pair of shots on goal, he’s accrued five points over his last four appearances
>> Making three saves on the evening, starting keeper Keegan Meyer has allowed just a single goal over his last four starts in goal, boasting a conference best 0.87 GAA
>> At 9-1-0 on the year, the Panthers are approaching their greatest start to a season since joining Division I, trailing only the 9-0-1 record the program recorded in 2012

• The Panthers celebrate homecoming this Saturday, hosting Longwood at 2 p.m. at Vert Stadium
• HPU has not lost a regular season game to Longwood since 2012, holding a 9-6-2 advantage over the Lancers all-time