LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Bellarmine University men’s soccer team is set for a 2 p.m. (ET) showdown Sunday with Central Arkansas in the ASUN Championship semifinals.
Central Arkansas (10-5) is the two-seed and host of the contest with the sixth-seeded Knights (7-7-2).
HOW BELLARMINE ADVANCED
Bellarmine moved to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory Friday night over three-seed FGCU, which had knocked the Knights out of the conference tournament last season.
The Eagles followed a scoreless first half by getting on the board in the 60th minute, but junior midfielder Camden Dunne equalized the contest in the 72nd minute and senior midfielder Micah Linscott delivered the eventual game-winner in the 82nd minute.
Bellarmine’s victory was its first-ever Division-I postseason win — the Knights earned a bye into the semifinals last season.
“It was a great win for our program on Friday night against FGCU,” Coach Tim Chastonay said. “Our guys stuck to the plan, even going down a goal. We were able to change the game and momentum with our first goal, and our persistence paid off with the game-winner soon after. As always, the players put in a tremendous effort all night.”
HOW UCA GOT HERE
The ASUN Championship is a six-team tournament, and Central Arkansas secured one of the two byes into the semifinals.
While the Bears are a two-seed, they did claim a regular-season co-championship with Lipscomb in their first year in the league after both went 5-2 in league play.
UCA had a great showing in the ASUN postseason awards. Alberto Suarez was voted Player of the Year and co-Defensive Player of the Year behind seven goals.
Joining Suarez on the ASUN All-Conference first team was midfielder Karim Diao, who has registered four goals. Midfielder Vicent Abaso, behind four goals of his own, and goalkeeper Zach Schawl were both recognized on the second team.
Defender Kris Naicker and forward Jonathan Randall were both picked for the All-Freshman Team. Frank Kohlenstein was voted Coach of the Year.
“UCA has a very talented group,” Chastonay said. “Defensively, they are hard to break down and can make things very difficult on teams. Offensively, they play a good style of soccer and can score goals in different ways. Overall, they are a balanced team and one of the best we have seen all season.”
FIRST MEETING WITH UCA
The teams clashed Sept. 25 in Conway, Arkansas in the regular season. The Bears secured a 2-0 win behind one goal in each half.
The stat sheet, however, was fairly balanced. UCA had a 14-9 advantage in shots, but they were even at five apiece on goal and Bellarmine had an 8-6 edge in corner kicks.
It was also a contest where the Bears, as good teams do, capitalized on self-inflicted wounds by the Knights, something that must be avoided in the rematch in the ASUN Championship.
“In our first meeting, they controlled long stretches of the match with possession,” Chastonay said. “We made a few mistakes and they made us pay with some clinical finishing. We did create some very good chances but could not find a goal to change the game.”
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