EVANS, GA – Second-seeded USC Aiken scored a pair of second-half goals to break a 1-1 deadlock and the Pacers claimed a 3-1 victory over third-seed Francis Marion University, Friday afternoon (Nov. 7) in the semifinals of the Peach Belt Conference Men's Soccer Tournament.
Francis Marion drops to 12-4-2, and the Patriots must await Monday night's announcement of the NCAA Division II national tournament field to see if they receive an at-large bid.
USCA (14-4-1) advances to face top-seeded and second-ranked Young Harris College in Sunday tournament title match at 1 p.m. Young Harris blanked Clayton State University 3-0 in Friday's first semifinal.
The Pacers took an early 1-0 lead when Adria Dalmau headed in a free kick from Andre Simmond at the 3:55 mark. Francis Marion answered with an equalizing goal 15 minutes later. Freshman Ryan Kolenda tallied his first goal of the season on an 8-yard shot that came off a Sven Ricke free kick.
FMU had two opportunities to go into halftime holding a lead. Ricke missed just outside the right post in the 29th minute and sophomore defender Peter Beniseau got his head on a Ricke corner kick in the 44th minute, but the attempt went straight at USCA goalkeeper Joshua Poissant.
To open the second half, Francis Marion junior midfielder Pascal Magiera's header clanged off the front post in the 51st minute and Beniseau had a header sail over the crossbar in the 55th minute.
Jan Wester scored the go-ahead tally for USCA at the 56:50 mark with a 19-yard blast. Exactly five minutes later, the Pacers increased the margin to 3-1 on a score by Jordan Misiri.
Again the Patriots threatened the Pacer goal as freshman Harrison Smith's hard-line shot from 35 yards out just inched over the crossbar in the 67th minute. Seconds later, a nice build-up by the Patriots had Benjamin Kwast serving the ball to freshman Jayden Doyle near the top of the penalty area, but Poissant came out to break up the threat.
In the 78th minute following a Ricke corner kick, Poissant knocked down a shot by FMU sophomore defender Jeremy Bonyaa and then junior defender David Sheridan had a follow-up shot that glanced off the crossbar and out of play for a Pacer goal kick.
Francis Marion registered one more shot than the Pacers, 15-14, while USCA held a slight 8-7 advantage in corner kicks. FMU sophomore goalkeeper Michael Warn recorded four saves, while Poissant finished with five saves.
USC Aiken (14-4-1 ; 2nd seed) def. Francis Marion Univ. (12-4-2 ; 3rd seed) 3-1 Date: Nov 07, 2014 Attendance: 175 Weather: Sunny, 61F, W 4
Goals by period 1 2 Tot ----------------------------------- Francis Marion Univ. 1 0 - 1 USC Aiken........... 1 2 - 3
SCORING SUMMARY: 1-0. 3:55 USCA Adria Dalmau (3) (Andre Simmond) - header off free kick from 22 yards out 1-1. 18:46 FMU Ryan Kolenda (1) (Sven Ricke) - 8-yard shot in box 2-1. 56:50 USCA Jan Wester (2) (unassisted) - loose ball at the top of the box 3-1. 61:50 USCA Jordan Misiri (6) (Andre Simmond) - off corner kick from right, far post
Shots: Francis Marion Univ. 15, USC Aiken 14 ; Saves: Francis Marion Univ. 4 (Mike Warn 4), USC Aiken 5 (Joshua Poissant 5) Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals