Spartanburg, S.C. – USC Upstate and Belmont battled for 110 minutes and came away with a gutsy 0-0 tie in Atlantic Sun Conference men's soccer action Sunday afternoon at County University Soccer Stadium.
Upstate had a chance to win the game with a second left in the second overtime period, but Dave Musambi's (Ottawa, Ontario) shot from six yards out was saved by Belmont goalkeeper Lou Manning.
With the tie, Upstate stands 4-4-1 overall and 1-0-1 with four points in the A-Sun. The Spartans will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., next weekend to take on Jacksonville Friday night and North Florida on Sunday. Belmont stands 5-5-1 overall and 1-0-1 with four points in the A-Sun.
"I thought we battled hard. It was a good experience for our players to get an overtime game under our belt. We are still battling with injuries, with experienced players sitting out or just coming back from missing time in games and practice. Hopefully, we can get some more players back and in game shape by next weekend," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks.
Upstate came out offensive-minded and had two solid scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the game. Just over six minutes in, Hakeem King (Port of Spain, Trinidad) got behind the Belmont defense and hit a shot that was saved by Belmont keeper Manning. Three minutes later, Dylan Hoop (Cincinnati, Ohio) took a shot from the left side of the box that was saved by a diving Manning.
Belmont had a couple of opportunities midway through the first half when Bruin attackers got behind the Upstate defense and had one-on-one opportunities with goalkeeper Jason McCabe (Irmo, S.C.). However, McCabe came off his line quickly to gain possession of the ball each time before shots could be taken by the Bruins.
With a little more than 12 minutes left in the half, Belmont was fouled just outside box. The Bruins took a free kick, but Nico Olsak's shot went over the bar for a goal kick.
Upstate nearly got on the scoreboard late in the first half when Tevin Gage (Valrico, Fla.) won a shoulder battle with his defender and played a cross to Timo Foerster (Oberkirk, Germany) in the middle of the box. Foerster's shot from 16 yards out was saved by a diving Manning. The teams went into the half tied at 0-0.
Upstate out-shot Belmont in the first half, owning an 8-5 edge. Manning was forced into five saves. Belmont put two of its five shots on frame and McCabe made a pair of saves.
Belmont had an opportunity early in the second half when Dan Meacock was fed a pass on the left center of the box and hammered a shot from 13 yards out toward the Upstate goal. However, McCabe was there to make the save.
The teams jockeyed for position throughout the remainder of the second half and King nearly put the Spartans on the board with a little more than nine minutes to play. After a foul, Felipe Grana (Lima, Peru) quickly put the ball in play and found King all by himself on the right side of the field deep in Belmont territory. He moved into the box and fired a shot, but Manning made a diving save to prevent the goal and the match remained scoreless. Neither team could find the back of the net in regulation, forcing the match into overtime.
The teams combined for three shots in the first overtime period and a header from each team was the best opportunity for either team to end the game, but each header was saved by the team's respective keepers to send the match into a second overtime.
Upstate got off three shots in the second half and had a last-second scoring opportunity to win the match. With eight seconds to play, Upstate had possession of the ball near midfield, but play was halted because a player on each side suffered an injury. A yellow card was issued to a Belmont player and the ball was dropped in play to Upstate. Foerster was played the ball and he sent a cross into the box where Musambi turned and fired a shot that was saved with one second on the clock. The game ended in a scoreless tie.
Upstate finished the game leading in shots by a narrow 14-13 margin. Manning made nine saves on the day to lead Belmont, while McCabe tallied seven for Upstate.