A hard fought season came to a disappointing end Friday night for the App State men’s soccer team as they fell in the semifinals of the Sun Belt tournament. Fourth ranked Appalachian State (8-10) lost to number one ranked Hartwick (10-5-3) 1-0 on Friday night.
With the Sun Belt tournament being hosted in Boone this year, Georgia State advanced to the finals in the earlier game beating Georgia Southern. Appalachian State was hoping to join them as they took on Hartwick one day after a hard fought 2-1 win against NJIT.
The first half was a defensive battle in which Hartwick had the upper hand. Hartwick led the game with five first half shots, while App State only had two. App’s best chance to score was at the 24-minute mark when freshman midfielder Rasheem Somersall shot towards the left corner, hitting the crossbar.
After a scoreless first half, the second half began with solid defense by sophomore goalie Jake Chasteen when he made a great save against Hartwick at the 50-minute mark.
Hartwick got on the board at the 67th minute when midfielder Jamie O’Grady, the Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, scored a goal in the roof of the net to give Hartwick a 1-0 lead.
“At the end of the day, Hartwick ended up making a play and we were unable to,” App State head coach Matt Nelson said.
App State’s last chance to tie the game was in the 79th minute when freshman midfielder Daniel Avila had a free kick attempt, which was shot right outside of the box.
Hartwick held on to win the game 1-0 and move on to the Sun Belt tournament finals against Georgia State on Sunday.
“You look at the end result of any game you play and that is what you base it on. Obviously I’m disappointed,” Nelson said. “I’m disappointed for our seniors and our entire team.”
App State is bringing back 10 of their athletes next season and Nelson feels this year set them up for great success moving on.
“Individually I saw a lot of improvement from our guys,” Nelson said. “The core right now and the growth and maturity were good this season. As a group and a program we have to continue to build on that.”
Story by: Jason Huber, Sports Reporter