Young Harris, Ga. – The No. 17-ranked Lander men’s soccer team (9-2-1, 5-0-1 PBC) battled No. 7-ranked Young Harris (10-1-2, 4-0-1 PBC) for 110 minutes before ending the match in a 1-1 tie on Saturday. As a result of the draw, the two sides remain undefeated in conference play as the regular season nears its conclusion.
Saturday’s match marked the Bearcats’ first matchup of the season against a nationally ranked opponent. Feeling the magnitude of the match, the two teams battled throughout the first half in a decidedly physical affair. The game saw a total of 37 fouls to go along with three yellow cards and one red. The two teams failed to score in the first half as each side exchanged three shot attempts.
The Mountain Lions broke the scoring drought in the 70th minute when defender Sam Jones found the back of the net in the sophomore’s first goal of the season. Junior Macauley King’s initial shot on goal was deflected by Lander goalkeeper Dean Cowdroy, but Jones was there to capitalize off the rebound and put Young Harris up 1-0. Lander failed to register any shot attempts in the subsequent 13 minutes as the Young Harris backline continued to hold firm.
With just seven minutes remaining in regulation, the Bearcats’ fortunes began to change after senior defender Josh Poole picked up his second yellow card resulting in a red card send-off for the Mountain Lions.
With Young Harris playing with 10-men, the Bearcats responded with a flurry of attacks in the closing minutes. With just one minute remaining, it appeared as if Young Harris may escape with the hard fought victory. Unsatisfied with defeat though, the Bearcats mounted a last gasp attack behind the efforts of junior Richard Bryan.
Bryan gained the ball in the attacking third and sent a beautiful pass inside the box to Jamie Lunn. The senior forward managed to create enough space to dribble the ball deep within the goal zone and thereby force the Young Harris defense to play a difficult clearance ball that found the back of the net for an own goal in the 89th minute.
With just seconds remaining, the stunned Mountain Lions nearly answered with a dramatic last second goal of their own, but the shot attempt was fortunately blocked by the Lander defense.
With the score tied at one, the two sides headed into the first overtime period with Peach Belt Regular Season Title hopes on the line. The Bearcats failed to take advantage of the Mountain Lions playing down one man as the second overtime period came to an end with the score still locked at one. Lander took two shot attempts with no shots on goal in the two overtimes.
As a result of the draw, Lander can clinch at least a share of the conference regular season title with a win against Georgia Southwestern on Oct. 28th.
The Bearcats will have two non-conference matches before their season finale against the Hurricanes in two weeks. Lander will host No. 21-ranked Carson-Newman on Saturday at Van-Taylor Stadium at 7:00pm in another matchup of nationally ranked opponents.