HARTSVILLE, S.C. – The Coker University men's soccer team picked up their fourth win of the season, upsetting the No. 16 Lander University Bearcats in a thrilling 1-0 victory on Wednesday (Sept. 25).
After hosting then 25th-ranked Wingate University, Lander marked the second nationally ranked opponent the Cobras have played thus far. Coach Michael Antoniewicz had his team confident and prepared for the challenge.
The confidence and preparation were evident throughout the night as the Coker Cobras executed their game plan to a near perfection. Antoniewicz prioritized keeping possession and playing as a team, not letting Lander control the match. The Cobras did just that in the first half, as it was a back and forth first 45 minutes of play. Both teams possessed the ball well and had scoring opportunities, but it was the Cobras who out shot the Bearcats nine to five in a scoreless first half.
"It was an all around great team performance tonight," said Antoniewicz. "Each and every player contributed and made an impact on the match."
A match changing sequence occurred in the 51st minute as Lander's George Knight escaped the Coker defense and fired a shot on goal, but goalkeeper Guilermo Falo Ejea was there for the save. Immediately, Falo Ejea punted the ball downfield setting the Cobras up for a transition scoring opportunity. Christian Provenzano beat the Bearcat defenders on the right side, fired a rocket to the far post for the first goal of the match. It was a great night for Provenzano has he had his way with the Bearcat defense.
"Christian's pace, strength, and skill set were on full display tonight," said Antoniewicz. "A great overall performance and he has played a big role in our success this season."
However, the moment of the match occurred in the 71st minute when the Bearcats were awarded a penalty kick. With the Cobras holding onto a 1-0 advantage, their lead was all of a sudden in jeopardy. Kyle Ferguson lined up to take the PK for Lander. Ferguson fired a rocket right down the middle, but goalkeeper Falo Ejea made an outstanding one handed save to keep Coker in front. This ended up being the defining play of the night, as the Cobra defense held Lander scoreless on their way to the 1-0 victory.
"In order to win big time games, you need a big time goalkeeper," said Antoniewicz. "Guilermo has been incredible this season and delivered another great performance tonight."
Guilermo Falo Ejea was named the McDonald's Player of the Game for his penalty kick save in the second half.
The Cobras will look to carry over this momentum into their away match with South Atlantic Conference foe, the Mars Hill University Lions, on Sunday (Sept. 29). Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.