Early Goal Leads to Monarchs Victory over South Carolina 1-0

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ODU Athletics

Graduate Student Tristan Jenkins takes control of the ball in ODU’s match against WVU

Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

After a thrilling 2-1 victory against the fourth-ranked team in the nation, Marshall, the Old Dominion men’s soccer team made its return back to Norfolk for another Sun Belt matchup against the Gamecocks of South Carolina. The Monarchs came into Wednesday evening with a 5-4-2 (2-1-1 Sun Belt) record seeking back-to-back victories in conference play, while the Gamecocks came in with a similar record at 5-4-3 (1-1-2 Sun Belt). 

To start the match, it did not take long for ODU to jump ahead as they struck first in the fifth minute. Graduate student Tristan Jenkins sent over a cross and found freshman Louis Beckett in front for the blast into the net for the 1-0 lead. Although the Monarchs struck quickly, it did not deter the Gamecocks as they had several chances to score, but freshman goalkeeper Michael Statham made the difference, as he made three saves in the first 45 minutes of play. Old Dominion maintained their 1-0 advantage going into halftime.

In the second half, the Gamecocks continued to bring the pressure as they put up three more shots on goal, but Statham was there to defend the 1-0 lead. After the early tally, the ODU offense really did not do much the rest of the first half, but in the second half, they were able to generate some offense with three shots in a row on goal. The Gamecocks were able to fend off the Monarchs’ attack and keep the game within reach as time dwindled. Both teams would continue to bring pressure on each side of the field throughout the rest of the match, but the early goal made the difference. Old Dominion would hold onto that 1-0 advantage for 85 minutes and ultimately claim victory over South Carolina.

With the victory, Old Dominion improved their record to 6-4-2 (3-1-1 Sun Belt) and now has 10 points in the conference standings to earn them sole possession of second, only being 2 points behind league-leading Kentucky. Statham would earn his fifth clean sheet on the season with six saves made against the Gamecocks. Both teams would tally ten shots throughout the match, while South Carolina held an 8-3 advantage in corner kicks. 

After the victory, ODU head coach Alan Dawson shared his thoughts on the gritty win and how his team found themselves on the winning end. “It was a hard-fought, mid-week Sun Belt conference game, and both teams had multiple chances,” Dawson stated. “Luckily for us, we converted a chance early and were able to withstand a lot of pressure from a very good South Carolina team.”

Next up for Old Dominion is a pair of road trips starting down in Conway, South Carolina on Sunday, Oct. 30th against Coastal Carolina, with kick-off slated for 7 p.m. After that, the Monarchs will travel up to Lexington, KY for a pivotal Sun Belt matchup against the University of Kentucky, which has the potential to become a #1 vs #2 in the Sun Belt standings very late in the regular season. That game will take place on Friday, Oct. 28th. The Monarchs will finish the season at home on Tuesday, Nov. 1 when they host Georgia State.