Senior midfielder Errick Sturm and freshman midfielder Enrique Hernandez of the LaGrange College men's soccer team finished with four points apiece during a 4-2 triumph over USA South-rival Berea on Sunday afternoon at Panther Field.
Sturm tallied a goal and two assists, as he moved into second on LaGrange's all-time points' list with 69. He overtook Marwan Warrayat (1983, 1985), who poured in 68 points during his brilliant career as a Panther.
The Panthers (5-8-1, 4-5-1 USA South) occupy the fourth and final playoff spot in the USA South West Division, with three conference games remaining. Berea fell to 4-12 overall and 1-9 in the USA South.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- During the eighth minute, the Mountaineers struck first, as Junior Gyamfi slammed a bouncing ball into the right side of the net, assisted by Joshua Szidik.
- Sturm knotted the game at 1-1 in the 25th minute, netting a goal off a perfectly executed give-and-go exchange with freshman midfielder Blake Webb on the right side of the box.
- Webb played a free kick into the box during the 32nd minute, and then junior midfielder Joao Santos netted his second goal of the season off a failed clear by Berea.
- LaGrange's defense made a couple key plays in the opening 45 minutes. Junior defender Asher Hendon stole the ball from Szidik on the right attacking side with a perfectly-timed sliding tackle with 17 minutes left. Freshman goalkeeper Lucas Wright made an aggressive stop during a one-on-one situation with Austin Rainey in the 40th minute.
- Senior defender Matthew Fritts nearly picked the left corner on a free-kick opportunity 4:22 into the second half, but the attempt went wide left. Webb had a scoring bid on a free kick in the 65th minute, but his shot heading toward the right post was corralled by Berea goalkeeper Noah DeHart.
- Panthers freshman defender Bryson Gordy orchestrated LaGrange's third goal by playing a service into the box during the 72nd minute. Sturm was able to win the ball and slid a pass across the goal line to Hernandez, who scored from the left post.
- Hernandez buried his second goal of the game 3:28 later, one-timing a shot into the goal off a pass by Sturm deep in the box.
- The Mountaineers trimmed the deficit down to 4-2 with 9:56 left, as Szidik one-hopped a free kick into the goal from just inside midfield.
WHAT THEY SAID:
Panthers Head Coach Ryan Dickson: "After coming off two games where we did not perform like we know we can, the team had to bounce back on Sunday if we had any hope of making the playoffs. We made a few changes to the team and formation. Again, we started slow and conceded off another great strike from the opposition. We stayed composed and pressed them into making mistakes, and then ended up pulling the game back and taking the lead. In the second half, we controlled the game and got a few more goals. We ended the game as comfortable winners."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Wright (4-5-1) earned the win with four saves, as he has allowed two or less goals in eight of 10 starts.
- The Panthers held a commanding 26-11 lead in shots, including a 12-6 advantage in shots on goal.
- LaGrange attempted 10 corner kicks and only gave up three. Hernandez recorded a game-high six shots, with three being on target, while Hendon put all three of his shots on net.
- LaGrange recorded a 2-1 double-overtime win over Berea during the 2018 meeting.
- The Panthers will continue their playoff push on Friday with a 6 p.m. start at Panther Field against USA South-foe Covenant.