ETSU Rallies Past Upstate, Ends Spartans' Season
Johnson City, Tenn. – For most of the game, Michael Rankin-Byrne's first half goal looked like it would hold up and deliver a win and an A-Sun Tournament berth to USC Upstate. However, two late goals from ETSU stole the victory away from the Spartans as the Buccaneers took a 2-1 victory over Upstate at Summers-Taylor Stadium.
Upstate entered the match needing a win to ensure itself of a postseason appearance in the A-Sun Tournament. A tie, with the exception of one remote scenario, would also have pushed the Spartans into postseason play. In the end, Upstate came up just short of securing its first postseason appearance since moving to Division I in 2007 and finished the season with a 5-8-2 overall record and a 2-4-2 mark with eight points in the A-Sun.
Upstate, Mercer and Belmont each have eight points in the A-Sun standings. Mercer and Belmont play each other Sunday afternoon and regardless of the result, one of those two teams will secure the final A-Sun Tournament position. ETSU (9-5-3, 3-4-1) has 10 points in the A-Sun standings and earned a playoff spot with the win.
Upstate was out-shot in the game by a 30-10 margin, but the Spartan defense and goalkeeper Jason McCabe (Irmo, S.C.) kept the Buccaneers off the scoreboard for most of the game. ETSU put just 10 shots on goal with McCabe registering six saves and the defenders collecting a pair of team saves. Upstate put five of its 10 shots on goal.
After playing most of the first half without a goal, Upstate broke through in the 37th-minute when Rankin-Byrne (Kingston, Ontario) found the back of the net for his first goal of the season. The ball was played up the right side and Rankin-Byrne beat the ETSU keeper to the ball and put the shot away into the open net. Upstate went into halftime with a 1-0 lead, despite being out-shot, 17-4.
In the second half, Upstate's defense withstood the ETSU attack until the Buccaneers finally broke through with the game-tying goal in the 75th-minute. Nate Hodges played a ball into the box where Aaron Schoenfeld gave a one-touch pass to Alesi Osorio who put the shot away to tie the game at 1-1.
ETSU scored just 2:27 later when Blake Woodruff's shot was saved but deflected out and Schoenfeld put the rebound in the back of the net for a 2-1 Buccaneer lead in the 77th-minute.
Upstate got off four shots in the remaining 13 minutes, but couldn't score and ETSU held on for the come from behind win.
Upstate ended its most successful season yet on the Division I level with a Division I era-tying five wins and two ties. The Spartans suffered three of its four A-Sun losses by a single goal, and three more overall.