Apr. 9—HIGH POINT — Shaking off an early shock, the High Point University men’s soccer team shook off UNC Asheville.
After giving up a goal in the opening minutes, the Panthers dominated for most of the remainder of the match and defeated the Bulldogs 5-1 to complete an undefeated season in the Big South conference.
HPU, which had already clinched the No. 1 seed for next week’s conference tournament, improves to 10-1-0 and 8-0 in the Big South. With all games in the four-team tourney at the higher seeds, HPU will host a semifinal match Wednesday.
“To be 10-1 and 8-0 in the Big South is an incredible achievement,” HPU head coach Zach Haines said. “We came into this season believing that it could be something special. We’ve done everything we’ve asked them. They worked hard. They’re a special group. We’re happy but not content. We want to move on and win trophies and push this program to new heights.”
Asheville, which took the early lead on breakaway goal five minutes in, drops to 2-4-1, all in the Big South.
Sebastian Chalbaud scored the first two goals for HPU, and Alex Abril, Caco Fernandez and MD Meyers booted the other three. Abril dished two assists and Chalbaud, Fernandez and Ashton Perkins had one.
HPU finished with a 22-8 advantage in shots. The Panthers finished with 10 shots on goal. Other than its score, UNCA mustered just two other shots on goal, and HPU keeper Holden Trent had one save.
“I thought we played well,” Haines said. “The way their goal came 5-6 minutes in, we had the ball all of those 5-6 minutes and created chances, but we had a bad turnover and they executed. So credit to them that they converted. So, fortunately enough, we answered right back. That’s the biggest takeaway, how resilient we were. Even though their goal was a stunner, we didn’t have a second of being rattled. We scored two minutes later and kept going. I loved how mentally tough we were.”
Asheville kept its early lead until Chalbaud lofted a shot from the left top of the box. The ball curved and sailed into the upper right of the goal
Chalbaud gave HPU the lead with 23:59 left in the half. Abril sent a cross into the middle and Chalbaud spcred from about 12 yards out.
HPU led 2-1 at the half and increased it to 3-1 when Chalbaud sent a long cross to Abril, who scored from the right side.
The Panthers missed repeatedly on chance until Abril passed ahead to Fernandez for a shot close to the goal with eight minutes to go. The Panther closed the scoring in the 87th minute when Fernandez passed to Perkins, who passed to a breaking Myers.