HPU MSOC Takes No. 1 Deacons To The Brink In 4-2 Loss

• High Point University men’s soccer gives No. 1 Wake Forest all they can handle in 4-2 loss at Winston-Salem
• Recently named Big South Freshman of the Week recipient, Tony Pineda, added three points to his 2018 total, scoring a goal and delivering an assist
• Forward Siggi Benonysson would get back on the scoresheet as well, opening his team’s scoring and assisting on Pineda’s goal just moments later

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – No. 19 High Point University men’s soccer matched up with the top team in Division I this Tuesday, taking No. 1 Wake Forest to the brink in a 4-2 loss in Winston-Salem. After falling behind by a pair of goals, the Panthers would pull back before the end of the first half to even things at two apiece, but were unable to keep the hosting Demon Deacons from adding another pair in the second.

“The commitment and the response that we had to not only get a goal back, but then to go into halftime 2-2 and have some momentum was impressive,” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe. “We certainly felt like we deserved it, and going into halftime with the No.1/No.2 team in the country, we felt good about it. …Overall I think the response to going down 2-0, and getting it to 2-2, and the way that we came out in the second half, I’m extremely pleased and proud of the group.”

The Panthers spotted their hosts a pair of goals in the first half, with the Deacons controlling the majority of possession in the starting 25 minutes. HPU forward Jonathan Bolanos would be the first to challenge a keeper on the night, before Wake Forest reeled off three consecutive shots on goal to go ahead 2-0.

High Point responded before the end of the half however, with junior forward Siggi Benonysson putting away his fourth of the year in the 31st minute. Freshman Tony Pineda continued his point streak to three straight games on the scoring play, delivering a ball across the face of the goal to the streaking Benonysson, a few yards inside the 18. The Icelandic-native picked out the bottom corner perfectly, tucking away his team’s first goal of the night, well out of reach of the Wake goalkeeper.

The Panthers kept the pressure on in the proceeding minutes, tying things up a little over five minutes later. The usual suspects would pick up points on the play, with Pineda stowing away his fifth goal of the current campaign. Bolanos delivered a ball from the wing to a waiting Benonysson, just within the penalty mark. Benonysson flicked a headed ball onward to the back door, for a Pineda shot that deflected off the keeper’s hands and just crossed the goalline.

Holding the tie through the break, High Point would get the major chances at the start of the second half, despite ceding the possession battle. Starting forward Ilias Kosmidis tested the Wake Forest defense in the 48th, taking his first shot on goal from just outside the 18. The Demon Deacons were able to survive the attack however, eventually scoring their third of the night on an HPU turnover in their own defensive end.

The Panthers continued to try and counter against the host side, but the Deacons’ were able to hold the ball until finding their fourth of the afternoon in the 78th. With a two-goal lead and less than 15 minutes remaining, Wake Forest would manage to run out the rest of regulation, as the Panthers were forced to take just their second loss of 2018.

>> Pineda has totaled eight points in his last three games played, he currently leads the Big South in freshman points (15) and freshman goals (5)
>> Benonysson’s seventh assist of the year gives the junior a team-high in helpers, and a total of 15 points in 2018
>> The Panthers’ nine straight road wins were a Division I best before their loss to Wake Forest, a mark the Demon Deacons held before falling to Syracuse last week