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Nov. 4, 2009
Spartanburg, S.C. - Ninety minutes was not enough to decide the men's soccer game between USC Upstate and Gardner-Webb Wednesday night at County University Soccer Stadium. And, 110 minutes wasn't enough to decide a winner as the Spartans and Bulldogs battled to a 2-2 tie in Upstate's season finale.
Upstate ended its season with a 5-9-3 record, claiming the most wins in its Division I era. Gardner-Webb stands 8-6-2 on the year.
"I thought both teams created chances to score," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "It was a difficult game, motivationally, because our season was over after tonight. Gardner-Webb still has their tournament to play. But, given that, it was a hard-fought game. Anytime you are down a goal in the second half and you can come back and get a tie, it is a good result. I give our guys a lot of credit. They played a lot better in the second half and in overtime than they did in the first 20 minutes."
GWU took less than 10 minutes to score the game's first goal. Romeo Kabanda took the ball down the left side and lifted a cross to the middle of the box where Taylor Jordan fired a shot into the left side of the net to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute.
Despite the two teams combining for 12 shots in the half, neither team cracked the scoreboard the rest of the period as GWU took a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
Upstate tied the game just over four minutes into the second half. Porter Massey played a long pass down the right sideline to Erkan Yildirim. Yildirim played a cross to the middle of the box to Maurice Beggs who fired a shot past a charging Bulldog keeper, Trent Kozman, for the equalizer in the 50th minute. It marked his fourth straight game with a goal.
Despite the shift in momentum, Gardner-Webb broke back on top just 1:17 later when the combination of Kabanda and Jordan struck again. Again, Kabanda took the ball down the right side and played the ball into the middle of the box to Taylor. This time, Taylor looped a header over Upstate keeper Pat Regna and into the goal for a 2-1 Bulldog lead.
Upstate and GWU battled for another 25 minutes until Upstate again tied the game in the 76th minute. Erkan Yildirim broke through the defense and into the box where he was taken down. The Spartans were awarded a penalty kick and Yildirim put it away to tie the match. Neither team could mount a solid offensive attack for the remainder of regulation and the game headed into overtime.
In overtime, Upstate avoided a loss with luck and a solid defensive play from John Kadane. Jordan was played a pass to the middle of the box and his shot glanced off of the crossbar and came back into play. Gerard Hefferon gained control and hammered a shot towards the goal, but Kadane was there to clear the ball and save the game for Upstate.
From that point on, the teams battled for control but the game ended in a tie. Upstate finished the game with a 20-18 lead in shots. Regna finished his Upstate career with seven saves on the night to give him an A-Sun-best 105 on the year. He leads the conference in saves and saves per game. Kozman made seven saves for the Bulldogs. Offensively, Jordan led all players with four points on two goals, while Yildirim tallied three points on a goal and an assist.