09/23/04 — MOC men battle past Francis Marion

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MOC men battle past Francis Marion

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on September 23, 2004 1:56 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive men's soccer coach Jerry Riggs knows his young team may struggle with consistency as they continue to improve.

The Trojans proved on Wednesday at Trojan Field they can still find a way to win when they aren't on their "A" game.

After outshooting Francis Marion University (S.C.) 13-3 in the first half, Mount Olive never found its rhythm in the second half, but still managed a 2-0 win over the Patriots.

"We look really good in the first half. It was two totally different teams," Riggs said. "We are still young, and it's still early, but it's a great regional win. We've got to continue to make strides in the right direction and not play one half and mediocre in the second half."

"We didn't play well, but we played well enough to beat a regional opponent."

The shutout -- the Trojans third of the season -- improved Mount Olive to 7-1 overall as they remained unbeaten at home with the win over the southeast region, non-conference foe. The Trojans got their lone goal of the first half when Ryan Brown booted a long pass from the right wing inside the box to Warren Atkins.

Atkins flicked the pass over his head with a header directly to Chris Jasso, who knocked in his third goal of the season. Mount Olive maintained possession on its offensive end for most of the first 45 minutes, with numerous deep attacks in the heart of the Patriot defense.

Francis Marion goalie Robbie Curry had just two saves in the first half as most of the Trojan shots that appeared to be heading on goal were deflected out of bounds by Patriot defenders. Mount Olive failed to capitalize on seven first-half corner kicks and took a 1-0 lead into the half.

Save a few misplayed clearances, the Trojan defense maintained its steady play through the game. Keyed by Ryan Brown, Michael Garrett, Matt Hobbs, Brandon Mills, Charles Williams and goalie Chris Rousch, Mount Olive limited the Patriots' dangerous chances around the goal. Francis Marion had seven corner kicks in the second half as Rousch took a handful of the attempts out of the air.

Trailing 2-0 with ten minutes left, Valentine Baker's header towards the goal was deflected by Mills with his own head -- deflecting the shot to Rousch. Rousch finished with one save in his first solo-shutout of the season.

"We played stellar. We know we've got to fight every game," Brown said. "It helps when you've got a solid keeper back there who is winning everything in the air."

After going nearly 66 minutes without a goal and struggling with their possession game in the first 30 minutes of the second half, Mount Olive's Cory Worrell broke free down the right wing. Worrell took a pass off of a steal by Erik Small, took several dribbles, then fired a shot past Curry with relatively no angle on the shot.

The goal gave the Eastern Wayne graduate 11 on the season as Worrell ranks fourth in the nation in goals per game. The timely assist was Small's second.

"Cory was able to get that goal to spark the win," Riggs said. "That was really relieving, because at the time we weren't sharp at all."

Mount Olive, currently tied for fifth in this week's Adidas/NSCAA Division II Southeast Regional Poll, will take a 3-0 Carolinas/Virginia Athletic Conference record into Saturday's home match with Erskine College.

"It's fun right now. We are very happy with the start, and we also know it's a long way to go," Riggs said. "Saturday is big, especially coming off of a big, regional win."

Francis Marion 0 0 -- 0

Mount Olive 1 1 -- 2

First half

MOC -- Jasso (Brown, Atkins assist), 13:03

Second half

MOC -- Worrell (Small assist), 79:11


8 Shots 17

8 Corner kicks 6

2 Offsides 2

10 Fouls 13

Saves -- FM -- Curry 2. MOC -- Roush 1.