Boiling Springs, N.C. – The Gardner-Webb men’s soccer team suffered its first home loss of the 2013 season on Saturday night, as the Longwood Lancers scored a goal four minutes into the overtime period to defeat the Runnin’ Bulldogs 2-1 in Big South Conference action at Greene-Harbison Field.
Longwood took an early 1-0 lead on a Zach Crandall goal in the eighth minute and remained on top until GWU’s Denzel Clarke scored the equalizer in the 87th minute to send the match into overtime.
In the OT, Longwood’s Anthony Ugorji scored the game-winning goal in the 94th minute to give the visiting team the 2-1 overtime win.
The loss, which was the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ second straight overtime loss and the third straight match that saw extra time, suffered its first home loss of the season to fall to 2-1-1 at Greene-Harbison Field.
GWU falls to 4-6-1 overall and 1-3-0 in conference play with the loss, while Longwood improves to 4-4-3 overall and 3-0-1 in Big South play with the win.
Longwood got on the scoreboard first in the early minutes of the contest, as Crandall took advantage of a GWU miscue on the defensive backline to find himself with the ball in a 1-v-1 situation with the Runnin’ Bulldog goalkeeper Matthew Swan.
Swan ran out of the box to try to make a tackle on the play, yet Crandall got past Swan and rolled a shot into the open net in the eighth minute to put the visitors up 1-0.
The Lancers continued to put pressure on the GWU defense, as Vaughn Fowler had his first shot attempt corralled in by Swan in the 11th minute, while Crandall saw his second shot sail wide of the goal in the 16th minute.
After a Gardner-Webb defender blocked another shot attempt from Fowler in the 23rd minute, the Runnin’ Bulldogs went on the offensive attack as midfielder Ali Al-Gashamy had a shot blocked in the 24th minute which went out of play for a GWU corner kick.
On the ensuing corner kick, fellow midfielder Iman Mafi tracked down a loose ball that was cleared and put a shot towards the goal that sailed just over the cross bar.
GWU’s Patrick Gürser tried to post the equalizer in the 26th minute, however, like Mafi’s earlier attempt it flew over the goal and out of play.
Both Swan and Longwood goalkeeper Carlos Canas posted one save apiece over the next few minutes, before the Runnin’ Bulldogs got shots from Mafi, Clarke, and Hammersmark which all either were wide of the posts or blocked by a Lancer defender to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of Longwood at the halftime break.
The second half started much like the first, as it was a very physical contest throughout, with the two teams combining for six fouls and four yellow cards over the first 10 minutes of the period.
GWU’s Marius Hammersmark looked to take advantage of the last Longwood foul in the 58th minute, as the senior co-captain took a shot off a free kick which forced Longwood’s Canas to make a diving stop in front of the net to keep the ball from tying the score up.
Minutes later, Longwood’s Crandall looked to double the Lancers’ lead as he got past the GWU defense and was 1-v-1 with one Runnin’ Bulldog defender who made a sliding tackle to block the shot and redirect it offline of the open goal to keep the score at 1-0.
The next 15 minutes of the contest saw both GWU and Longwood miss offline with two shots apiece, while Mafi had a shot blocked in the 73rd minute as he took a crack at knotting the match up at 1-1.
GWU’s Swan would make back-to-back saves, first in the 77th minute and once more in the 79th minute, to keep the score at 1-0, while Longwood’s Canas answered with a stop of his own in the 82nd minute as time ticked away in regulation.
However, the Runnin’ Bulldogs were not done, as in the 87th minute, Mafi played a cross from left to right across the box to fellow teammate Craig Swaby. Swaby took the pass along the right side of the box and played a nice ball to the front of the goal where a streaking Clarke put his foot on the ball and sent it into the back of the goal for the 1-1 equalizer. The goal was Clarke’s team leading eighth on the season, while the double assists was the first on the year for both Mafi and Swaby.
Longwood would try to win the match in regulation, as Christian Keilty put a header toward the goal that sailed well out of play in the closing seconds to send the match into overtime knotted up at 1-1.
Less than a full minute into the match, Longwood’s Keilty put a shot towards the goal off a corner kick only to see GWU’s Swan make the save despite the traffic in front of the goal to keep the Runnin’ Bulldogs alive.
GWU then took its turn minutes later, as both Mafi and defender Eric Yeager had their shot attempts blocked by the Longwood defense in the 93rd minute with the latter giving the home team a corner kick.
On the corner kick, Hammersmark played a ball to the back front post where Clarke was able to get a piece of the ball with his head, but not enough as it cruised offline and out of play.
On the subsequent play, Longwood’s Ben Ferrell played a long ball up to a sprinting Ugorji, who chased down the pass and then chipped the ball overtop of the head of Swan who was coming out to make a play on the ball which bounced across the goal line in the 94th minute to give the Lancers the 2-1 overtime win.
The match had 32 fouls and eight yellow cards combined between the two teams.
Since posting back-to-back wins over Liberty and Mercer in mid-September, the Runnin’ Bulldogs have been winless in its last five matches having gone 0-4-1 during that span.
Gardner-Webb (4-6-1, 1-3-0 Big South) will return to action next Tuesday night, October 15, as the Runnin’ Bulldogs will travel to Clinton, S.C. to take on the Presbyterian College Blue Hose at 7 p.m. Longwood (4-4-3, 3-0-1 Big South) will host VMI in Big South Conference play on Wednesday, October 16th, at 7 p.m. in Farmville, Va.