JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Coker University men's soccer team upset the number one seed Carson-Newman University Eagles by a score of 5-1, advancing to the South Atlantic Conference men's soccer championship semifinals.
The Cobras entered the SAC tournament as the number eight seed with a 9-7 record, and a 5-5 clip in the SAC. Meanwhile, Carson-Newman earned the number one overall seed with a 10-3-3 record, going 6-1-3 in conference play.
The first 45 minutes were very competitive, as both teams created several scoring opportunities with 22 combined shot attempts. However, the match remained scoreless until the 44th minute when Christian Provenzano broke free on the outside, and fired a shot to the opposite corner of the net to give the Cobras a 1-0 lead heading into halftime.
"I loved our effort in the first half," said coach Michael Antoniewicz. "We remained patient and played together as a team. Christian's goal gave us the confidence we needed going into the second half."
The momentum from Provenzano's goal carried over into the second half. In the 47th minute, Lucas Miquel Castrillo launched a shot from just inside the box that went past the diving hands of opposing goalkeeper Bram Kaarsgaren to give the Cobras a 2-0 advantage.
Just a few moments later, Provenzano broke free on the outside once again, this time connecting with Jacques Fokam-Sandeu on a cross to the middle of the box, who tapped it in for the goal to extend the lead to 3-0. However, the Eagles answered right back in the 63rd minute, as Tobias Solem Karlsen found the back of the net to make the score 3-1.
With momentum starting to switch sides, tensions started to rise as the Eagles were mounting a comeback attempt. Carson-Newman striker Collin Hensel fired a shot on goal, but goalkeeper Guilermo Falo Ejea was there for the clutch diving save to keep the score at 3-1. Falo Ejea tallied 11 saves in the match, giving him 97 on the season which leads the SAC.
In the 81st minute, Provenzano continued his excellent play as he escaped the Eagles' back line on the right side of the field, finding the back of the net for the second time in the match to extend the Coker lead to 4-1. As time expired, Adam Kennedy put the icing on the cake as he scored the fifth goal of the night for the Cobras, and the fourth in the second half to fuel the 5-1 victory over number one seed Carson-Newman.
"Great all-around team performance tonight," said Antoniewicz. "Our team played like warriors and earned this win. I am proud of each and every player. However, we are not done yet. Our mindset now is preparing for the final four. We are super excited about advancing tonight and will be looking forward to learning who our opponent will be."
The Cobras will be taking on the winner of Tusculum and Anderson (S.C.) in the SAC men's soccer semifinals, who will be facing off on Sunday (Nov. 10). Kickoff for the semifinals is set for 11:00 a.m. on Friday (Nov. 15) at the Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews, N.C.