Appalachian State University men’s soccer fell to the defending champion Hartwick, 1-0, in the Sun Belt Conference semifinal on Friday night at Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex.
“I am disappointed with the loss,” said head coach Matt Nelson. “I am disappointed for our entire team, especially our seniors. I thought we fought hard throughout the match. At the end of the day they made a play, and we were unable to. That’s the sports, and it’s unfortunate we were on the short end tonight.”
The Mountaineers (8-10) battled through a scoreless first half with the No. 1 seed Hawks (10-5-3). The Apps had a good chance to go up a goal in the first half when Raheem Somersall (Basseterre, St. Kitts/Southern School of Energy and Sustainability) fired a long range effort that was ducking towards the top-left corner but glanced off the crossbar and out play.
Hartwick’s Lenny Wilson made several fantastic saves to deny the Mountaineers a go-ahead goal. Wilson stopped two headers from Stephen Chapman (Greensboro, N.C./Northwest Guilford) and Ben Steen (Mooresville, N.C./Lake Norman) that were headed to the back of the net.
In the 67th minute, a Hartwick foul gave Alex Herbst (Apex, N.C./Apex) a chance from just outside the box. Herbst’s shot required a full extension save from Wilson to keep the Apps off the board.
Not long after, a long ball down the right side of the field allowed Dean Fowler to get a cross into the box. Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, Jamie O’Grady finished the cross into the roof of the net for the game-winning goal.
The Mountaineers best chance after going down a goal came from another free kick just outside the box. Daniel Avila’s (Smithfield, N.C./Smithfield-Selma) free-kick shot sailed just over the bar.
Jake Chasteen (Blowing Rock, N.C./Watauga) made two great saves to limit Hartwick to just the one goal on the night.
“Individually, I saw a lot of improvement in our guys from the beginning of the year to now,” said Nelson. “They play together for such a young team with a young core. I think the growth and the maturity was good. As a team and as a program we need to continue to build on that. Tonight we are with our seniors as they go through a tough night and a tough couple days. We’re all with them together.”
With the loss the Mountaineers end the year with a 8-10 overall record. Appalachian will return 10 student-athletes that played in at least 15 matches during the 2015 season.