Regna Shines In Goal, But Upstate Falls At Jacksonville
Jacksonville, Fla. - Despite an inspiring performance in goal from USC Upstate goalkeeper Pat Regna, a first half goal by Jacksonville's Stefan Runeman spelled the difference as the Dolphins took a 1-0 victory in a key A-Sun men's soccer game at the Ashley Sports Complex Friday night.
Upstate fell to 4-7-2 overall and 1-3-2 with five points in the A-Sun. Jacksonville improved to 4-9-1 overall and 2-4-0 with six points in the conference. The Spartans entered the day in eighth-place in the A-Sun standings, just two points out of the sixth spot and battling for one of six spots in the A-Sun Championship. The loss will relegate the Spartans to 10th in the conference, but Upstate is just two points out of the sixth. Jacksonville played itself into contention with the win. The Dolphins are just one point out of a spot in the tournament. Upstate has three matches remaining, including Sunday's 3:00 p.m. contest at North Florida.
"I thought we played better in the second half than we did in the first," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "They were all over us in the first 20 or 30 minutes. Pat (Regna) kept us in the game and made two or three saves that he really shouldn't make, but he did. We had a little mishap and gave them a corner. An unmarked guy scored a goal on a header and that was the difference in the game. All of these games are close, one-goal games. We have to figure out a way to win them."
Regna, a senior from Rochester, N.Y., was simply amazing in the net for Upstate. He made several tremendous saves throughout the night, including four in two separate flurries where rebounds came back to Jacksonville players and the Upstate defense could not clear the ball. He finished the game with nine saves to lead the goalkeepers.
Despite Jacksonville's constant pressure in the first 30 minutes, Upstate managed to keep the game tied at zero. However, Runeman made the difference in the game in the 27th minute when he took a corner kick cross from Andy Mikeska and headed the ball into the goal to give the Dolphins a 1-0 lead. It would turn out to be the game's only score.
With Upstate looking to counterattack in the second half, Jacksonville had a couple of opportunities to extend its lead, but Regna was there to keep the Spartans in the game. Just over six minutes into the second half, Regna made two saves in a span of seven seconds before a third Dolphin shot sailed wide of the goal. Runeman took a shot from 10 yards out that Regna saved. The rebound came back to Runeman who pounded a second shot which was again deflected by Regna. Mikeska's follow went wide as Upstate stayed in the game down just one goal.
Regna again came up huge for Upstate in the 58th minute of play with a pair of diving saves in a five second span to keep Jacksonville off the board again.
Despite Regna's stellar play, Upstate was not able to push through and score a goal, suffering its sixth one-goal loss of the season. The Spartans finished with 11 shots on the night, while Jacksonville took 25, though only 10 were placed on goal. Dolphin keeper Joey Sanchez made six saves to preserve the win and shutout for Jacksonville.