Beginning the night with an undefeated record at home, but after a back and forth game, the Apps could not find a way to pull out yet another impressive result.
After an early goal by Jair Espinoza, putting Coastal Carolina (5-5-3, 1-1-1 Sun Belt) up 1-0 in the 11th minute, the Mountaineers (4-6-3, 1-1-1 Sun Belt) remained behind until senior forward Stephen Chapman headed home a corner from senior midfielder Jordan Melia in the 81st minute, knotting the score at 1-1 and sending the game into overtime.
App State withstood a furious onslaught of balls into the box before regulation expired, but only three minutes into overtime, Chanticleers defender Henrik Muller took a cross from the left side of the box and pushed it past freshman keeper Jake Agnew, giving Coastal Carolina the first win by any opponent in Boone this season.
The winning overtime goal snapped the Mountaineers’ unbeaten streak at six games, and also was only the second goal the Apps have given up in their last four contests, leading Agnew to two straight Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week honors.
“First half, we didn’t come out competing for every inch of the field and every loose ball, and that was certainly one of the keys to the game,” head coach Jason O’ Keefe said. “Some guys came off the bench and did a great job for us and brought some competitiveness so we could get a foot back into the game.”
Entering halftime with three shots each, the game was a tight defensive battle, but Coastal Carolina took off in the second half, recording seven shots to App state’s three.
The Apps, however, stood strong, and they were able to execute on their eighth and final corner of the game. The headed goal off the corner was Chapman’s sixth of the season.
In their first year in the conference, the Chanticleers were the preseason pick to win the Sun Belt, and are known for their aggressive style of play.
Over 25 fouls were called between the two teams, and the Apps were up to the challenge to deal with such a physical team.
“Coastal goes into every game [trying to be physical] and they grab you and push you down to try to get your mind out of the game as quickly as possible,” Chapman said. “I think that was their game plan from the start, but we stayed mentally tough and were able to earn some fouls, which got them out of that physicality sometimes.”
Now tied with three others in the Sun Belt standings through three conference games with four points, the Mountaineers have two conference games remaining before the Sun Belt tournament.
With Georgia State (9-6, 1-1 Sun Belt) coming to town this Saturday on Senior Day, the Apps know they have to shake off a tough loss and get ready for an important conference matchup against the Panthers.
“It is always tough to lose a game in the Sun Belt with so few teams, but they’re a good team and they will win some more games so there is still time for us to come up on top in the regular season,” Chapman said. “We had a great effort tonight, so we need to bring that Saturday against Georgia State.”
Story By: Tyler Hotz, Sports Reporter