MISENHEIMER, N.C. – Senior midfielder Errick Sturm of the LaGrange College men's soccer team finished with a career-high seven points on three goals and an assist during a 4-3 win at USA South-foe Pfeiffer on Saturday afternoon.
The win clinched a playoff berth for the Panthers (6-10-1, 5-7-1 USA South), as the program has qualified for the USA South Tournament in three-consecutive seasons. The unit finished the regular season with 16 points in the USA South, which is the most in program history.
LaGrange will play in a first-round playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 2, as the seeds will be officially released on Sunday, Oct. 27.
Pfeiffer fell to 6-10-1 overall and 4-8-1 in the USA South.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Sturm, who factored into all four Panther goals, drew a foul in the box during the 39th minute, and then stepped up and buried the penalty kick from 12 yards out.
- Sturm played a facilitating role on LaGrange's second tally 2:20 into the second half, locating freshman midfielder Enrique Hernandez, who picked the top-left corner for a 2-0 lead.
- The Panthers built a 3-0 lead in the 56th minute. Sturm and freshman midfielder Blake Webb executed a perfect give-and-go exchange, with Sturm putting the finishing touch on the play. The two student-athletes have built a strong rapport on the field, as they combined for a give-and-go goal in a 4-2 win over Berea on Oct. 13.
- Caz Dabrowski cut LaGrange's lead down to 3-1 with 32:53 remaining in regulation, netting a shot off a feed by Diego Moran.
- Webb orchestrated the Panthers' fourth goal in the 66th minute, placing a pass along the sidelines onto the feet of Sturm. The senior standout netted a goal, giving the team a three-goal cushion and completing his first hat trick of the season.
- Pfeiffer scored twice in the final 17:30, as the Falcons pulled to within one behind goals by Moran (73rd minute) and Caleb Bratager (90th minute).
WHAT THEY SAID:
Panthers Head Coach Ryan Dickson: "We settled into the game around the 15-minute mark. We had a game plan to hit them on the counterattack after winning the ball in our defensive position. We knew we had to weather the storm early in the second half, which we did by scoring two early goals. We made the game hard after conceding a bad goal. Errick Sturm scored his hat trick eight minutes later to put us in front, 4-1, which should have put the game out of sight. The last 20 minutes, we did not manage the game the way we needed to and conceded two unnecessary goals. Thankfully, we held on and recorded the win, which secured our playoff spot and the most points that we have ever finished with in the USA South Conference."
INSIDE THE NUMBERS:
- Sturm now has four career hat tricks, with the first three coming during his sophomore season. He leads the program in career goals (35) and ranks second in points (76). Sturm ranks second in single-season goals (16) and tied for third in points (33), as he accomplished both during the 2017 season.
- Webb finished with two assists and Panthers freshman goalkeeper Gian Dev recorded nine saves during his second win of the season.
- Pfeiffer held a 24-13 lead in shots and a 12-11 advantage in shots on goal. Sturm put a game-high six shots on net.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:
- Dickson has led the Panthers to the playoffs during his first two years at the helm of the program.
- LaGrange experienced a 2-1 setback at Maryville in the first round of the 2018 USA South Tournament.
- LaGrange has won back-to-back games against Pfeiffer, as the Panthers earned a 1-0 win in the 2018 matchup at Panther Field.
- The Panthers will compete in the first round of the USA South Tournament on Saturday, Nov. 2, as the date, time and opponent will be released by the conference office on Sunday.