BOILING SPRINGS N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) - No. 6 High Point got a goal and an assist from Mamadee Nyepon in defeating No. 3 Campbell 3-1 in the third game of the 2011 Big South Men's Soccer Championship Thursday at Greene-Harbison Field on the campus of Gardner-Webb University. The Panthers will play the winner of No. 2 Gardner-Webb / No. 7 Winthrop on Friday at 7:00 pm in the semifinals.
The Panthers threatened to score in the 6th minute on a free kick shot attempt by First Team All-Conference midfielder Shawn Sloan, but it was saved by Campbell keeper Ethan Hall. The Camels offense also won a shot on goal early, as the 9th minute saw First Team All-Conference midfielder Mitchell Cardenas fire a shot on frame. High Point goalkeeper Michael Chesler extended to collect the save and the match scoreless in the early going.
An attack in the 20th minute by Second Team All-Conference forward Karo Okiomah, who found fellow Panther Alex Martinez streaking toward the goal, won High Point a corner kick that was cleared by the Camels. Campbell countered with a corner of its own in the 22nd minute, but the attempt from Cardenas was denied when Chesler climbed the ladder and secured the ball.
A steal by Cardenas turned into a scoring opportunity for the Camels in the 24th minute, but his cross into the High Point box was grabbed by Chesler, who continued his steady play early and the score stayed 0-0. Another Cardenas cross off a breakaway threatened the 0-0 score, but Panther defender Leon Carby cleared the ball.
The scoring nearly opened in the 29th minute when the Panthers' Martinez lasered a shot from 20 yards away outside the left side of the box, but it connected with the crossbar and bounced away as the even play continued between the two Big South rivals.
High Point opened the scoring in the match off a shot from Okiomah in the 39th minute, who took a tight cross from the left side off the foot of Nyepon to push the score to 1-0 in favor of the Panthers. The goal was Okiomah's seventh of the season. Campbell threatened to counter in the 42nd minute off a shot from Second Team All-Big South midfielder Justin Franz, but it went wide and score remained 1-0 in favor of High Point heading into the break.
The Panthers' Sloan fired a shot on frame immediately after halftime in the 46th minute, but it was saved by Allen and the score stayed at 1-0. Though leading, High Point continued to attack offensively, as a breakaway by Nyepon in the 48th minute threatened but was thwarted by Campbell's defensive third. Campbell's Ben Iiames took a shot looking for the equalizer, but his attempt went wide.
High Point got another goal in the 50th minute off the foot of Nyepon, who got his fifth goal of the season to push the Panthers' lead to 2-0. The goal came after a free kick assist from Ryan Bennett that was headed by Okiomah to Nyepon, who was able to put it past Allen for the score.
Okiomah recorded a shot in the 50th minute that bounced off the right post. Campbell, led by Cardenas, fought to maintain possession offensively but their efforts were countered by sound defense by High Point early in the second half.
A slashing run by Campbell's J.J. Elder resulted in a shot that was blocked away for a corner, but neither resulted in a goal for the Camels and the High Point lead stayed at 2-0.
Campbell got a goal back in the 71st minute when Jared Girard fired a shot home from 20 yards out on the left side that went across the goal and into the back right of the net to cut the Panther lead to 2-1. The goal was the first of the season for Girard in getting the Camels right back in the game.
The Panthers continued to push on the offensive end, as both Okiomah and Nyepon earned numerous scoring chances to push a third goal through, but the score remained 2-1 in the waning minutes of the second half.
High Point broke through with a third goal in the 81st minute off a shot from Martinez, who sliced between two Campbell defenders to collect a through pass from Shane Malcolm and beat a diving Allen to score. The goal for Martinez was his team-leading 11th on the season.
Campbell attempted to counter, as a shot attempt off a free kick from defender Nick Burdett in the 86th minute threatened but went high. The Camels fought to score in the final minutes, but offensive opportunities generated by Cardenas and Elder did not connect. High Point edged Campbell 15-10 in shots for the game.
High Point improves to 9-9-2 on the year, while Campbell ends its season at 9-9-2. The No. 6 Panthers, which defeated No. 3 Campbell 2-0 in the regular-season, will move on to face the winner of No. 2 Gardner-Webb / No. 7 Winthrop in the Conference tournament semifinal round, scheduled to play Friday at 7:00 pm.
Campbell Head Coach Steve Armas
"I'm proud of our guys, even when things weren't going our way early, they collected themselves and battled back. Credit goes to High Point; they had a game plan and stuck to it, capitalizing on their opportunities. We'll look at this and move forward. I think where we were selected to finish and where we ended up finishing in the conference is a positive, so we'll be more prepared next year for our second season in the Big South. We thank GWU and the Big South Conference for their hospitality in hosting this tournament."
High Point Coach
"It's a good win tonight, we are very fortunate to come and get a win against a very good and very well-coached Campbell team. We came out a bit tentatively in the first 20 minutes and played like we knew it was a tournament game, but after that I thought we played well. It was an entire team effort. Now we need to recover and get ready for tomorrow."