LONGWOOD DEFEATS VMI, 3-2
FARMVILLE, Va. -- The Longwood University men’s soccer team defeated Big South Conference opponent VMI (1-4, 0-1), 3-2, on Wednesday evening at the Athletics Complex in Farmville. Sophomore Jonathan Kukapa|Leesburg (Clarksburg Md.) scored the winning goal for the Lancers (2-4, 2-3) in the 83rd minute to guide his squad to victory. Longwood returns to action on Saturday, September 15, when it travels to High Point University for a 7 p.m. tilt.
“This game had it all, and fortunately for us, it had a happy ending in what was a must-win game,” said head coach Jon Atkinson. “I give credit to VMI, who showed true grit throughout and made a good run of it in the second half, as the game opened up. I thought we showed our best and worst tonight, playing some good, composed soccer, and only missed a goal for all the good work. As often happens in this game, just as you are feeling in control, you get hit with a sucker punch. It took a dramatic final 20 minutes to pull this result out of the bag.
Kukapa totaled three points in the outing to lead all scorers. Junior Jared Windt|Haymarket (Battlefield) and freshman Sam Yardley|Fairfax Station (Robinson) each added to the offensive effort with their first-career goals. Anthony Ugorji|Washington, D.C. (Archbishop Carroll) tallied an assist in the contest, as well. Freshman goalkeeper Carl Carpenter|Charlottesville (St. Anne's Belfield School) tallied two saves to record the victory in net for the Lancers.
Longwood controlled the pace of play early, tallying eight shots in the first 45 minutes while not allowing VMI to take any. Neither squad was able to move the net in the first period, but the Lancers came close in the 26th minute when freshman Christian Keilty|Spotsylvania (Riverbend) fired a hard shot to the right post, but the VMI keeper was able to scoop it up with a sliding save to extinguish the opportunity. Later in the half, senior Devin Pierce|Virginia Breach (Ocean Lakes) headed a cross from senior Adel Sarras|Burke (Annandale), but it sailed just high, hitting the crossbar. In the last five minutes of the first, the Lancers had two chances, as freshman Mike Durr|Brandon, Miss. (Brandon) and Ugorji put shots directly on goal, but the Keydets goalkeeper came up with the saves to send the teams to the locker rooms knotted at 0-0.
Both squads went on the attack coming out of the break, combining for all five of the game’s goals in the second half. VMI broke the match open in the 47th minute when Kyle Farmer sent a pass to David Rochow, who’s header found its way under the crossbar to give the Keydets a 1-0 advantage.
After more than 27 minutes of scoreless action, Windt was awarded a penalty kick for the Lancers after VMI was issued a yellow card in the 74th minute. Windt sent his shot high to find the back of the net just over the outstretched fingers of the Keydets’ keeper to make it a 1-1 game.
The Lancers took their first lead of the night less than 30 seconds later, as Kukapa made a pass from the left side of the box that found Yardley near the right post for the header on goal.
In the 79th minute, the Keydets retaliated to tie the score for the second time in the match. Farmer lobbed a pass to the right side of the goal to set up Blake McCauley, who converted on a diving header.
The Lancers scored what would become the winning goal in the 83rd minute of play when Ugorji and Kukapa set off on a 2-on-1 breakaway that ended when Ugorji dribbled to the end line and sent a cross in front of the net to Kukapa, who fired into the right side of the net to give Longwood the 3-2 victory.
Longwood outshot VMI, 16-5, in the match. Wednesday’s outing marked the 13th meeting between the Lancers and the Keydets in the sport of men’s soccer. Longwood now leads the all-time series, 10-3.