Offense Explodes As Braves Rout USC Aiken
PEMBROKE – Homestanding UNCP made good on its first two shots of the game and built a 3-0 lead at the intermission, but exploded for four more goals in the second half to register its biggest win in nearly three years with a 7-1 win over USC Aiken Wednesday evening at Varsity Grounds.
It was the largest margin of victory for UNCP (6-5-1, 2-2-0 PBC) since an 8-0 home victory Barton on Oct. 4, 2006, and the largest margin of victory for the Braves against a league foe since an 8-0 win over USC Aiken (4-6-1, 1-2-0) on Nov. 5, 2003, in the opening round of the Peach Belt Conference Tournament. The Black and Gold has now won seven of its last eight meetings with the Pacers, including three-straight triumphs in the series.
Rondell Honora led the offensive charge on the night with a pair of goals, while Andy Pullin cashed in on a score, as well as a pair of assists. Lumberton native Kyle Kenney collected his first career goal late in the second half, while also adding an assist on the ensuing score as well. Sophomore Horatio Bynes booked a trio of saves and 71 shutout minutes between the pipes in his first action of the campaign as well.
“It was good to have a game where everyone on the team got rewarded,” said UNCP head coach Mike Schaeffer. “Now we just have to try to keep the yo-yo (of a season) spinning at the top and not let it go back down.”
Andy Pullin got UNCP off the mark quickly, finding himself all alone at the back end of an offensive push and rifling a shot to the top shelf past Aiken netminder Devin Lemaire who was still dazed after a conference between the officials verifying the score. Less than three minutes later, Cipriano would register what would turn out to be the game's deciding goal when he used his head to chip Eirik Torgerson's long service over the head of Lemaire for a 2-0 cushion.
Honora would score the first of his two goals on the night in the 41st minute to give UNCP a 3-0 lead heading into the intermission. The Black and Gold held just a slight 7-5 lead in the shots column at the break, with the Pacers holding a 3-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Chicho Abreu opened up the second half scoring with a 55th minute goal, Honora pushed the lead to 5-0 on a 61st minute score and Kenney put his first collegiate points on the board when he touched in a failed shot from Pullin at the far post for a 6-0 lead. Matt Gallagher's 72nd minute goal gave the Braves a 7-0 lead before Aiken finally had an answer to the onslaught on a Troy Watson score at the 76:52 mark.
UNCP will close out a short two-game league homestand this weekend when the Black and Gold suits up to host Georgia Southwestern (2-9-0, 0-2-0) in the back half of a 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon men's and women's soccer doubleheader at Varsity Grounds. Admission to all 2009 UNCP Soccer home games is free.