The Coastal Carolina men’s soccer team picked up a critical win ahead of the Sun Belt Tournament with a 2-0 victory over Howard on Sunday at CCU's soccer stadium.
“We had a lot injuries going into this game, but we had a lot of guys step up and stick to the plan,” said CCU men’s soccer assistant head coach Kyle Russell.
CCU started pressuring Howard early and that intensity paid off in the 10th minute as Tyrone Mondi rifled a shot past the keeper to make it 1-0 CCU.
“Anytime you have Tyrone Mondi on the field, a goal can happen at any moment, Russell said.
Coastal would keep up the pressure, creating chance after chance. Sam Snaith nearly added a second goal but saw his header in the net disallowed because of an offsides violation.
The Chanticleers had 11 shots in the first half. Howard had zero.
Coastal would rack up a 21-to-1 shot ratio on the afternoon, with eight shots on goal for the Chanticleers compared to the zero shots on goal for Howard.
Coastal had numerous chances toward the end of the first half but could not get that second goal.
Itching to extend their lead and seal a victory, the Chants wasted no time in the second half finding the back of the net.
Less than three minutes into the second half, on what was one of 14 corner kicks taken by CCU, Morten Timm found Marcelo Lage and Lage headed the ball into the net for his first career goal.
“That second goal was huge,” Russell said. “It took a lot of pressure off the boys’ shoulders and it allowed us to get other guys into the game to help increase our fitness level ahead of our final game this Saturday.”
The win puts CCU at 7-7-1 and 2-2 in Sun Belt Conference play. The loss for Howard puts them at 5-10-1 and 2-2 in Sun Belt play.
The Chanticleers knew they would have an advantage in the contest because four of Howard's players were unable to play because of red cards in a prior match against St. Bonaventure. One of those players was Andres Gomez, the leading scorer for the Bison with eight goals on the season.
“Despite some of their players missing today’s match due to red cards, Howard is a good team,” Russell said. “They were able to do something we didn’t do and that was beat Georgia State.”
The win over Howard on Sunday puts Coastal in a four-way tie for the second seed the Sun Belt tournament.
Coastal needs to get a win over Georgia Southern on Saturday to gain sole possession of the second seed in the Sun Belt tournament. That would give them a first round bye.
Russell hopes that what’s at stake is enough to bring fans to CCU Soccer Stadium.
“One of our team's goals we created before the season started was to finish in the top two so we could get that first round bye,“ he said. “We are so close to achieving that and the crowd support on what could be the final home game of 2019 would mean a lot. The fans are going to see a great group of guys play for a great group of seniors.”
Kickoff between Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina is set for 7 p.m.