O’Keefe Gets First Win; Apps Blast USC Upstate 3-1 in Home Opener

Published Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 9:41 am
Appalachian State University men's soccer won its home opener against USC Upstate, giving Jason O'Keefe his first win as head coach and freshman Graham Smalley his first career goal and game-winner. Courtesy: Tim Cowie / App State Athletics

Appalachian State University men’s soccer won its home opener against USC Upstate, giving Jason O’Keefe his first win as head coach and freshman Graham Smalley his first career goal and game-winner. Courtesy: Tim Cowie / App State Athletics

Freshman Graham Smalley scored his first collegiate goal and game-winner to give Appalachian State University men’s soccer its first win of the season and Jason O’Keefe his first win as head coach.

The Mountaineers (1-4) rallied from a USC Upstate (2-2) equalizer in the 71st minute by scoring two goals in the final 14 minutes of the game to win 3-1. With the win, App State improves to 37-15-2 all-time in home openers.

“I’m definitely pleased with the effort tonight to score first and then the guys having the resiliency to have a response to conceding their goal,” O’Keefe said. “There were a lot of positives to take away from tonight. Now we just have to learn from it and get ready to hit the road and prepare for a good Longwood team on Saturday.”

The first half was dead even as both teams battled to force a mistake by the other and neither teams willing to concede. Appalachian narrowly outshot the Spartans in the first half 5-4 before doing it again in the second half, 7-5, imposing a strong attack from right out of the gates.

Senior Jordan Melia finally broke open the flood gates for App State, scoring in the 52nd minute off a cross by Daniel Avila. Melia was able to take the pass and touch it just passed the goalkeeper to the back of the net for his second goal of the season.

USC Upstate would find a way to respond, having Calon Minors find Joel Bunting who knocked a floater just passed Jake Chasteen from the left side to tie up the game with less than 20 minutes left in the match.

The Mountaineers didn’t take long to retake the lead, however, going right back at the Spartans to score just six minutes later in the 77th minute when senior Stephen Chapman found Smalley at the top of the box to fire it home.

Chapman sealed the deal on a penalty kick in the 86th minute to get his first goal of the season.

Playing the entire 90 in the net for the Black and Gold was Chasteen, who had four saves on the night and made several key defensive plays to thwart the Spartan’s offensive attack.

Chippy but Focused

In a match that featured three yellow cards and 33 total fouls between the two teams, including 20 in the second half, the Mountaineers had to win the mental battle and succeeded by staying focused on the next play.

Even when things got most chippy in the second half, Appalachian was able to use that to its advantage scoring all three goals in the half.

Aside from the shots advantage, the Mountaineers were also able to win the corners, taking six on the night compared to USC Upstate’s two.

Looking Forward

The Mountaineers will go on the road again for a one-off against Longwood on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. App State then returns home for its second match in Boone, hosting Winthrop on Tuesday, Sept. 20. Kickoff for that match is at 7 p.m.

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