FLORENCE, SC – Freshman Yannick Grader scored for the second straight match to help the Francis Marion University men's soccer team defeat USC Aiken 1-0 in Peach Belt Conference action on Wednesday night (Oct. 24) and secure FMU's spot in the upcoming conference tournament.
The Patriots conclude their regular season slate on Saturday (Oct. 27) with a trip to face second-ranked Young Harris College. FMU will begin the PBC Tournament with a quarterfinal match on Tuesday, Oct. 30. The location, time, and opponent for the quarterfinal contest will be determined following the last day of the regular season on Saturday.
Francis Marion is now 8-5-0 overall, and third in the PBC with a 4-2-0 conference mark. The win extends FMU's winning streak to a season-high four in a row and is the squad's seventh victory in their last eight contests. The Patriots have not trailed during their winning streak, and have allowed just one goal.
Both teams struggled to drum up much offense early, with neither team registering a shot attempt until the 12th minute.
USC Aiken (3-6-2, 0-4-2) created the first good scoring opportunity of the evening at the 23:47 mark when freshman Neil Hamilton had a deflected shot glance off of the post before it was smothered by FMU freshman goalkeeper Kristoffer Gregenaes. Hamilton had another opportunity a few minutes later following a long cross, but sent his shot well wide.
The Patriots' first major threat came in the 37th minute, when sophomore Jonas Dovland pounced on a loose ball and let fly from 28 yards out, but sent it whistling wide. Less than two minutes later, a quick counterattack sprung Grader for a one-on-one opportunity against USCA sophomore goalkeeper Alejandro Chavarria, but the goalkeeper made the save to keep the contest scoreless.
Grader got his goal a mere 27 seconds later. Freshman Sam Pollard played the ball forward for freshman Sidney Warden, who laid it off for Grader near the top of the box. Grader curled it around Chavarria and into the far corner for his second tally of the year.
The Pacers amped up the pressure in the second half, with leading-scorer Jordan Misiri forcing Gregenaes into a save at the 48:03 mark. In the 56th minute, the USCA senior sent a bending attempt through traffic, but Gregenaes fought it off and eventually pounced on it before the Pacers could get an attempt at a rebound.
As USC Aiken continued to push forward, Francis Marion's back line of senior Julian Kersting, junior Matthew Bainbridge, and freshman Magnus Hoejland held the Pacers to one more shot on target over the final 34:55. The trio helped FMU post their fifth shutout of the season, and third in the last four contests.
The Pacers held an 8-7 shot advantage for the evening, with the Patriots claiming a 5-3 edge in shots on goal. USCA took seven corner kicks to FMU's four.
Gregenaes made three five saves in the Francis Marion net to post his fourth shutout of the campaign, while Chavarria recorded four stops for the Pacers.
Post-match comments from FMU head coach John Campbell
Francis Marion Univ. (8-5-0, 4-2-0) def. USC Aiken (3-6-2, 0-4-2) 1-0
Date: Oct 24, 2018 Attendance: 103
Weather: Mostly clear,65 degrees,Winds NE @ 6 mph
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
USC Aiken........... 0 0 - 0
Francis Marion Univ. 1 0 - 1
1-0. 38:58 FMU Yannick Grader (2) (Sam Pollard;Sidney Warden) - 13 yard shot form right side of box
Shots: USC Aiken 8, Francis Marion Univ. 7 ; Saves: USC Aiken 4 (Alejandro Chavarria 4), Francis Marion Univ. 3 (Kristoffer Gregenaes 3)
Senior Night #FarrahTurner