Georgia State men’s soccer (10-5-1, 2-0-1) team is currently on a streak that has situated them well for the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The Panthers have loss just once in the past six games, and are undefeated in conference play.
The men’s soccer team defeated the University of North Carolina at Asheville 3-1 in a non-conference matchup. Forward Kwaku Abu-Boahene and defender Alex Summerfield scored their first goals of the season. During the 57th minute, midfielder, Hannes Burmeister scored the game-winning goal when he tapped in a crossed ball from Salomon Lorenzano.
Appalachian State and the Panthers played a double-overtime draw last Saturday. The five shots Georgia State attempted in extra time was not enough to avoid their first draw of the season.
Georgia State fell to the Charlotte 49ers 3-4 (OT) Tuesday night during their last non-conference game of the year, their first loss in 24 days.
Charlotte won the Conference USA regular season championship last season. With help of a 12-2-2 regular season record, the 49ers received an invitation to the NCAA tournament despite a losing their first game during the Conference USA Tournament.
After entering the season as a top-25 team, Charlotte and their seven returning starters from last season have not enjoyed similar success. Ten or more times this season, Charlotte scored just one goal in a game. Charlotte scored one or fewer goals just seven times in the 2016, including their two postseason games.
The Panthers have a great chance at winning the regular season title, which was split in 2016 by the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers and the Georgia Southern Eagles. No. 1 seeded Coastal Carolina defeated Georgia State 1-0 in the conference tournament championship game.
The 2017 men’s soccer season is shaping up to be one the most impressive of any Georgia State program this fall, but this wasn’t always the case. Georgia State compiled just 13 goals during their first 10 games of the year, but matched that total in the following four matches.
Hannes Burmeister scored in the first three games since Georgia State opened conference play. Burmeister, the 2016 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year, has brought his total goals scored this season to six.
It would take a remarkable stretch of performances by Burmeister to reach his 11-goal plateau of last season, which placed him in 19th, nationally. However, the veteran midfielder and senior forward Rashid Alarape make up on the nation’s highest-scoring duos. Alarape has cooled off since scoring six goals in the first half of the season. He still leads the Panthers in goals and points, with eight and 16 respectively.
A first-round bye in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament is definitely in the cards for the Panthers. They will have to survive in a stretch of game opponents who each won 11 or more games last season.
Hartwick has been floating around the .500 mark this year, a far cry from the 7-3-3 record they held on this date last season. Hartwick midfielder, Jamie O’Grady became the Sun Belt’s leading scorer after putting the ball at back of the net three times during a 3-0 shutout of Appalachian State.
The reigning Sun Belt tournament champions Coastal Carolina are not hasn’t matched the success reached in their recent history. The Chanticleers advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in both of the past two -years, falling last year to Wake Forest, the runner-ups for the national championship.
Coastal Carolina is the most equipped team to challenge Georgia State in their remaining schedule. The eight returning starters from last year’s conference-winning team match up with the experience of Georgia State, but they have not made the top-25 rankings since holding the 19th spot in the preseason.
If Georgia State wins two of their final two games, they will have a top notch conference record heading into the conference tournament. Should Georgia State earn the first seed and an upset occurs in their first tournament game, they could still receive an invitation to the NCAA tournament, which was the case for Charlotte in Conference USA last season.
Prior to their 4-3 overtime loss to Charlotte, Head Coach Brett Surrency answered a few questions regarding the final matches of the regular season and the -postseason.
The Signal: A few weeks ago (before the Jacksonville game), you said that scoring the ball was an area that the team could improve in. How do you think the offense has come along since then?
Surrency: Last couple games have been great! We have scored [13 goals] in the past [five] games so that’s been a big step in the right direction.
The Signal: What players have shown up big during Sun Belt action so far and how so?
Surrency: Our back line of Kyle Clinton, George Proctor, Liam Fitzsimmons and Lukas Joyner have been solid in both games. The attacking side has come around and it’s been nice to see Hannes get a goal in each SBC game [except for one].
The Signal: During the postseason, winning at any costs is the name of the game and you all have won games already without playing flawless ball. Do you feel that all good/great teams find a way to win, particularly during the postseason?
Surrency: No doubt. We have won games this season playing well and we have won games this season far from our best. The key is winning, how we do that is irrelevant and the players understand that and know that some days will require a different approach.
The Signal: In football, the saying goes that defense wins championships. Do you believe that that same saying applies towards either offense or defense during the postseason and Sun Belt Tournament?
Surrency: I think if you look at the teams that typically advance far along in tournament play they are very sound defensively. So I would agree with that saying when it pertains to soccer.
The Signal: Can you give a few keys to a successful finish in conference play?
Surrency: We are in the final stretch of games for the regular season and it will take great focus the remainder of the way to reach our goals. The guys know that the challenges will only increase as we move forward and we will need to take care of ourselves, mentally and physically, in order to compete at our highest level.
Georgia State plays their final road game of the season at Hartwick, Sat. Oct. 28. Hartwick trails Georgia by just a point in the Sun Belt standings, and the winner will have the most control in deciding their conference tournament seeding.