Evans, Ga. – The No. 23-ranked and top-seeded Lander men’s soccer team erased an early deficit with five consecutive goals as the Bearcats took fifth-seeded Clayton State 5-1 at Blanchard Woods Park in the Peach Belt Conference Tournament semifinals on Friday night. With the win, Lander advances to its third consecutive PBC Tournament championship match.
Lander (12-3-1) outscored the Lakers 4-0 in the second half, outshooting Clayton State 8-1 over the final 45 minutes.
“I thought it was a game of two halves,” said head coach Lee Squires. “I thought in the first half, even though we started pretty well, we never really got into a rhythm and got going. We left the game a little too open. We made some adjustments at halftime and utilized a lot players. In the second half, we were much more together and much more organized. The score line maybe flatters us a little bit, but we’ll certainly take it and we’re delighted to be in the final again.”
Clayton State (8-9-1) struck first at the 13:17 mark when Dionysius Harmon took a long pass from Hector Gutierrez and chipped a shot into the net to give the Lakers a 1-0 advantage.
The Lakers looked poised to take the lead into intermission before Lander got on the board when Oliver Brock‘s corner kick found Ian Foulger, who headed a shot past Clayton State’s Oliver Pannell in the 41st minute. to even the match at 1-1.
The Bearcats opened the floodgates in the second half, beginning at the 51:39 mark as Thibault Chretien drove the ball all the way to the end line before crossing a pass to Robbie Young, who finished to give Lander its first lead of the night.
Foulger, who entered the night with one goal on the season, struck for his second goal of the match at 78:04, connecting on a header off a free kick assist from Brock.
Lofts wrapped up the match with his team-leading eighth goal of the year in the 85th minute.
The Bearcats return to action Sunday, Nov. 5, at 3:30 p.m. when they take on either second-seeded Young Harris or third-seeded North Georgia in the PBC Tournament championship match.