A late goal proved costly for Maryvile College in the USA South Athletic Conference Semifinals, as N.C. Wesleyan College eliminated the Scots by a score of 1-0.
Maryville's defense – led by a strong showing from keeper Mykal Manfred – held strong throughout the physical match, as the Battling Bishops took a second-chance opportunity to advance.
Matteo Costa attacked from the left side, as Manfred dove for one of his many stellar saves on the night. The ball was pushed to the right, as Dom Giovannini rebounded the shot for a one-timer over the recovering goalie in the 83rd minute.
Maryville had a key opportunity with just 39 seconds left. Chris Fernandez tossed a long throw in, as it was turned away to the top of the box. Johnny Rakhmonberdiev hit a hard, low shot, as the Bishops defense blocked it just feet from the goal to keep MC off the board.
The two squads went toe-to-toe in the first half, as N.C. Wesleyan led the shot count, 9-2. Maryville had one shots on goal to five by the Battling Bishops, each of those being turned away by Manfred.
The rookie keeper faced a tough challenge in a 1:01 segment between the 12th and 13th minutes. Manfred stood tall, punching away four N.C. Wesleyan attacks, including a pair of saves.
The Battling Bishops found a shot from Lorenzo Cocchia that was blocked, before Manfred found his second and third saves of the match on shots by Matteo Costa. Manfred's two saves were accompanied by a pair of punch outs, including one on a close corner kick.
In the 16th minute, he added another on a free kick from just outside the box. Lucas Menzo's shot was saved by the freshman to keep the score a 0-0.
Maryville's best opportunity of the first half came in the 28th minute. Chris Fernandez took a free kick from 40 yards out, pushing it ahead to Johnny Rakhmonberdiev. The junior left-footed it forward to the middle of the box, as Aaron Rucker blasted a header from point blank. Bishop keeper Tobias Borzel turned it away from inside 5 yards.
N.C. Wesleyan again had a close opportunity on a foul just outside the box as Manfred came high to try to stop an attack. Costa took the shot, as it was blocked and cleared by Rucker to keep the score at nil.
The Battling Bishops continued their onslaught during the second half, as Costa would again force Manfred to make a save. The freshman dove to his right, punching the ball away with his fingertips from Costa's shot just outside the box at the 63:29 mark.
N.C. Wesleyan's late goal would lift them for the win, 1-0.
Maryville College (11-9) was led by Manfred who posted eight saves on the night. Rakhmonberdiev had four of the Scots' eight shots, tallying a pair on frame. Austin Vineyard added two shots – both on goal for Maryville.
The Battling Bishops had 17 shots to eight by Maryville. They added nine shots on goal, as the Scots' posted five on the night. In all, the two teams combined for 35 fouls and four yellow cards.
N.C. Wesleyan (16-2-1) was paced by Costa who notched six shots – four on goal – and an assist. Baboucarr Njie had three shots with one on frame, while Giovannini had the goal on one shot.