• Siggi Benonysson secures the game-winner in No. 14 High Point University men’s soccer 1-0 defeat of Presbyterian
• The win makes the Panthers the first team to go undefeated in conference play since 2010, and gives the club its best regular season winning percentage since joining Division I (.844)
• After securing a Big South regular season championship over the past weekend, the Panthers have earned an automatic bid to the semifinals of this year’s conference tournament. The side will host the winner of this weekend’s contest between No. 4 Campbell and No. 5 Gardner-Webb next Wednesday at 7 p.m.
CLINTON, S.C. – No. 14 High Point University men’s soccer completes its most successful regular season in Division I program history, gathering its 13th victory of the season, in a 1-0 shutout win at Presbyterian. The Panthers’ .844 winning percentage in 2018 is its highest since joining D1 in 1999, while their 13 wins tie for second-most over the same span of time. The side finishes the year with a record of 7-0-1 in the Big South, the first time since 2010 the team has gone undefeated in conference play.
“Absolutely unbelievable regular season,” said Head Coach EJ O’Keeffe. “To get 13 wins with our schedule, this group of guys have really bought in to everything that we’re doing. I’m so pleased for our players to have the type of regular season they’ve had. Now its on to phase two, and into the conference tournament, and hopefully to compete for another trophy.”
In another physical matchup, the hosting Blue Hose committed eight fouls in the opening 18 minutes, before Panther forward Siggi Benonysson put the visitors ahead by one. Leading the counter attack, midfielder Jonathan Bolanos beat a Presbyterian defensemen to a 50-50 ball near the endline before threading a pass to a sprinting Benonysson at the the top of the six. The junior striker went to ground to deliver an efficient strike into the back of the net, putting away his fifth of the season, to go up 1-0.
HPU continued to get quality chances in the first half, creating opportunities off of set pieces. With nine minutes remaining in the first, the Panthers nearly buried their second of the night, as a free kick from Ryan Inman just evaded a pair of High Point players at the goalline.
Trailing by a single goal out of the break, Presbyterian became the aggressor in the second half, drawing a penalty just six minutes into the period. Starting goalkeeper Keegan Meyer would go untested on the opportunity however, with the Presbyterian shooter sending the ball well over the crossbar. Meyer once again had a big second half for the Panthers, securing his sixth clean sheet of the year with a pair of saves in the latter 45 minutes.
The home team continued to press, but the side’s physical play would eventually backfire, as the Blue Hose earned their third red card of the season in the 74th minute. With an extra man on the field the Panthers were able to hold off any potential threats from the Blue Hose and secure their 13th win of the season, while finishing the conference season undefeated.
“We know there are teams in this league that are certainly good,” said Coach O’Keeffe. “And what I’m pleased about is that we went undefeated in conference, didn’t concede a goal tonight, and we got the job done.”
>> Benonysson’s goal gives the striker a total of 17 points on the year, six shy of teammate Ilias Kosmidis’ conference-best (23)
>> Meyer has collected 19 clean sheets over the course of his career, just one short of tying the second-most in program history
>> 2010 is the only season in D1 club history that the Panthers’ have secured more victories, that squad finished the regular season at 14-3-1
>> Over eight Big South matches, the Panthers have trailed in conference play for a total of just 82 minutes
>> With the win over PC, this year’s class of seniors has won more Big South competitions than any prior at 22
>> The Blue Hose’s 24 fouls are just one shy of tying a season-high against the Panthers. UNC Asheville committed 25 against HPU earlier this year, and was the last side to receive a red while playing the Panthers as well
COMING UP NEXT
High Point will play the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between No. 4 Campbell and No. 5 Gardner Webb at home inside Vert Stadium next Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Panthers tied the Camels just last week in a 1-1 draw on the road, while defeating the Bulldogs in a 1-0 shutout win in September.