Lynchburg, Va. -- After dropping out of the national rankings this week, the Hornets proved why they should have never left as they upset the #9 Captains of Christopher Newport Wednesday night, 2-1.
A heavy mist dampened the pitch before play started but it did not change the atmosphere of the midweek duel of South Atlantic region powers in the Hornets and Captains. The game had created a buzz not only in the athletic department but students were talking about the big matchup over lunch and dinner in the dining hall.
Both teams were coming off out-of-state trips, with the Hornets coming back from the Peach State with a win and tie while the Captains earned a win but suffered their first defeat of the season in California.
The game started slow as if both teams were trying to figure out how best to attack the opponent, almost like a game of chess. The first half was aggressive from the start and two yellow cards were handed out 11 fouls were called collectively.
The Hornets had the first real opportunity on goal as senior Ben Grossfuss lost possession in the 34th minute but fought hard to regain it and was able to get of a cross that was waiting to be struck by a Hornet into the back of the net but was cleared by a CNU defender.
With 10 minutes left in the half, the Hornets collected the ball at mid-pitch and looked to push forward and attack the Captain defense. Senior Adam Reynolds dribbled into the Captains half and picked his head up looking for a teammate. He saw senior Ben Grossfuss making a run through the middle and fired a magnificent through ball that skipped along the rain soaked turf field, around a CNU defender and into the NC native's path. Grossfuss took some touches, composed himself and placed a shot into the lower right hand corner of the net sending the bench, fans, and students packing the track into a frenzy as well as giving the Hornets the lead.
The celebration was short lived though as the Captains responded just five minutes later as a bad pass by Lynchburg helped Andrew Gogolin get behind the Hornet backline and flick a shot over sophomore goalkeeper Dylan McLaurin (2 saves), leveling the score heading into halftime.
Despite a draining first half, the offense and defense for the Hornets showed up in full force for the second half. Defensively Lynchburg held CNU to one shot in the second half and offensively firing 10 shots at Captains goalkeeper Zach Pedini, who moved to 6-2 on the season following the loss.
One of those 10 shots was the game winning goal by sophomore Zach Thomas. The second-year forward got the ball and slipped a touch through a CNU defender's legs and pressed forward with only three minutes left. Battling another defender for possession Thomas shrugged him off and entered the box. He looked up to see where the keeper was and finessed a low shot that found the back of the net and caused the stadium to erupt in celebration.
With the win, the Hornets move to 5-0-2 and look to jump back into the Top 25 while the Captains sink to 6-2 on the season. The men appear on the pitch again this Saturday, Sept 24 with a match against Hampden-Sydney at 7:00 pm on Shellenberger Field.