GGC Men's Soccer Wins A.I.I. Tournament
The Georgia Gwinnett men’s soccer team dominated national #3 Ashford University on Saturday afternoon on its home field in Lawrenceville, winning 3-0 to capture the 2013 Association of Independent Institutions Men’s Soccer Championship and advance to the NAIA national tournament in the program’s first season of postseason eligibility.
Ibrahima Sissoko, Callum Mordey and David Burke each scored for the Grizzlies (15-4), who have won eight straight games and will find out their national tournament matchup on Monday.
The Grizzlies turned up the pressure early on Saturday and ran their way to a 20-9 shot advantage on the Saints (13-4-1), who had not given up three goals in a game all season.
Saturday also marked the fifth shutout for the Grizzly defense during GGC’s eight-game winning streak, as the team has allowed just three goals since it last lost on Oct. 9.
Ashford, who had earned a first-place vote in the most recent NAIA Men’s Soccer Coaches’ Poll, fell in the title game for the second straight year.
“What a win for our team and our program,” said Grizzlies head coach Steve DeCou. “To see these kids coming together is just a testament to how we’re growing as a program and how we’ve set the bar pretty high.
“We got the first (goal) and that forced them to open up and play a little bit more and then the chances really started coming,” said DeCou.
The Grizzlies maintained possession from the start, securing an 8-2 shot advantage in the first half. The pressure didn’t translate on the scoreboard, at least until the second half got underway.
In the 52nd minute, Martin Lugo and Sissoko connected on a stellar one-two, springing Sissoko in to beat Ashford goalkeeper Patrick Kinsella and give GGC a 1-0 lead.
The Grizzlies added to their lead 15 minutes later, when Callum Mordey popped in a flick behind his back on a loose ball following a corner kick, edging it just over the goal line to give the Grizzlies a 2-0 advantage.
In the 72nd minute, GGC padded its lead once more. German Rodriguez launched a driving shot to the lower corner that Kinsella dove to knock away, but Burke followed in and cleaned up the rebound for the third and final score.
Lewis Sharpe made three saves in goal for the Grizzlies and the GGC defense held strong once more to preserve the win.
The third-seeded Grizzlies advanced to Saturday’s championship game thanks to a 2-1 victory over second-seeded Cal State San Marcos a day earlier.
Selection for the 32-team NAIA national tournament will take place on Monday, with opening round action set for Saturday, Nov. 23. Opening round winners will then play for a national championship Dec. 2-7 at the Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala.
“First, we’ll see who we’re playing and where we’re headed,” said DeCou of the week ahead. “We’ll take a couple of days to enjoy this victory and then we’ll get the details ironed out moving forward.”