STATESBORO, Ga. - It may not show up on the final season record, but Georgia Southern's 5-0 victory over USC Aiken on Wednesday afternoon (August 17th) will open the door for many more wins in the 2011 season. The victory gives the Eagles much needed confidence entering the new season which kicks off on August 27th against North Florida.
"I feel like we possessed the ball well today and moved it around," Head Coach Kevin Kennedy said in a postgame discussion with Eagle Vision. "We got our defenders involved, which is something we wanted to do today. I felt like we had a lot of success penetrating the other team's back line and getting some opportunities."
Luigi Clendening (Augusta, Ga.) put the Eagles up 1-0 approaching the half hour mark with a penalty kick. The Racers were called for an inadvertent handball in the penalty area and the Eagle senior took advantage, beating the keeper on a shot with pace into the net.
Witt Carlisle (Alpharetta, Ga.) doubled the advantage just ten minutes before the break with a rocket goal from the top of the 18-yard box. The junior made an incisive run through the center of the Aiken defense, earning an open shot and a 2-0 Georgia Southern advantage.
After the halftime break, Clendening scored with a bicycle kick, ten yards from goal for his second tally of the match. Ethan LaPan (Martinez, Ga.) delivered a corner kick into the penalty area that was nearly handled by the USCA defense. A high bounce came to Clendening, who hit the spectacular shot into the net.
"I thought he (Clendening) was outstanding today and is always dangerous in attack," added Kennedy. "We think he is better when he looks to combine and play in behind off the ball. He had a lot of success today with that, and he was looking for the hat trick late."
Just three minutes later, freshman David Vargas Masís (Cartago, Costa Rica) put his name on the scoresheet with a 52nd minute goal. Sophomore Thomas Valikonis (Greenville, S.C.) played a wide ball to the near post where Vargas Masís shot the ball to the USCA keeper at point blank range. The forward gathered his own rebound and calmly scored his first collegiate goal for a 4-0 Eagle lead.
Georgia Southern earned a second spot kick in the 54th minute as the USC Aiken goalkeeper took Clendening down on a breakaway just inside the penalty area. LaPan was called on to take the penalty and scored despite the netminder getting his fingertips on the shot.
The Eagles were unable to add a sixth goal despite taking 26 total shots. All three Georgia Southern goalkeepers saw action in the match for the combined clean sheet.
The final tune-up match for the Eagles takes place on Sunday, August 21st at Eagle Field as Georgia Southern plays host to Lander. The 2011 regular season opener is on Saturday, August 27th at North Florida.
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