The ETSU Bucs fell 1-0 to the Furman Paladins on Sunday afternoon in the championship match of the SoCon Tournament.
Early in the first half, neither team took many chances to put shots on goal. Just 9 minutes into the match, the only shot taken was by Joao Ramalho (Monte Santo, Brazil). However, the Paladins scored the first goal in the 10th minute.
Noah Teplitzky worked the ball up the left side for Furman. He knocked a long cross to the right side of the box to Lewis Hawke. Hawke headed the cross that found the right side of the net to give Furman the early 1-0 lead.
After some back-and-forth play in the first half, Furman led ETSU in shots with eight and two on goal. ETSU had five shots with two on goal. The Bucs took just one shot in the last 12 minutes that was ultimately saved by Furman’s keeper, Sven Lissek.
Head coach Bo Oshoniyi went into half with his team down 1-0, but he delivered a message at half time.
“I told them we just needed to work harder and not be afraid of taking shots,” said Oshoniyi. “We were still in the game.”
The Bucs received the message and delivered early as they dominated the possession early in the second half. ETSU took six shots with two on goal in the first 13 minutes.
“We had to make a change from the first half,” said defender Corentin “CoCo” Ohlmann (Sainte Maire, France). “We sent our outside backs higher on plays to push pressure on them. We just needed to settle the game, and we did that.”
The Bucs could have tied the match in the 68th minute. ETSU had quarter-attacked on Furman and had numbers on their side. Mitchell Cecatiello (Pascagoula, Miss.) went one-on-one with Lissek, but Cecatiello’s shot curled just behind the net and ended the attack.
After not receiving any corner kicks in the first half, the Bucs had seven in the second half and had chances to score off them. One chance occurred in the 71st minute when James Smith (Eastbourne, England) took the kick. Chase Clack (Memphis, Tenn.) found the ball and put a shot on goal but was stopped by the Paladins defense.
ETSU had another chance off a corner kick in the 74th minute. Ramalho took a shot inside the box and had his shot blocked by the Paladin backline.
In the last 15 minutes of the match, ETSU took just one shot as momentum started to favor Furman. The Paladins could have put the match away in the 82nd minute but was saved by a sliding Jonny Sutherland (Chester, U.K.).
The Bucs couldn’t net the equalizer in the second half but dominated the last 45 minutes. ETSU outshot Furman 14-5 in the second half with 4-1 on goal. Lissek ended the match with six saves and was awarded the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
“Furman didn’t have too many chances in the second half,” said Sutherland. “We knew they like to put crosses inside the box and use the long ball. The second half we were not challenged much because our defensive midline stopped their counters early.”
The Bucs were awarded the runner-up trophy after the match, which was accepted by Oshoniyi and the three players who are leaving ETSU due to their last year of eligibility.
“I want to say hats off to Furman,” Oshoniyi said. “I am happy for them, and they deserved to move on. They are the gold standard in our conference, and we went toe-to-toe with them. Just looking forward, we are a young team, and we have a positive feeling we are going to do great things next year.”
ETSU had three players on the All-Tournament Team: Sutherland, Smith and Ohlmann.
“I feel grateful when I am given awards like this,” said Smith. “I am obviously disappointed by the result, but we played well and pressured Furman. Their keeper (Lissek) played a great game, and the team deserves to advance to the NCAAs.”
The Bucs ended their 2015-16 season going 8-7-4 overall, and Furman advanced to 8-5-5.