Georgia State falls 2-1 in thrilling encounter against arch rival Georgia Southern

Photo by Shel Levy | The Signal

On Saturday’s Fan Appreciation Night at the GSU Soccer Complex, Georgia State men’s soccer played host to a thrilling encounter against the Georgia Southern Eagles. 

Although head coach Brett Surrency’s men were the dominant side for most of the 90 minutes, it was Georgia Southern who claimed the 2-1 derby-day victory, after a 90th minute goal broke Georgia State hearts and handed the Panthers their second successive loss.  

The match was the first conference game of the season for both sides and a rematch of 2018’s Sun Belt Conference championship, in which the Panthers triumphed 4-2.  

The opening minutes were predictably slow, as both teams attempted to assert their dominance in the midfield.

The Eagles began the match on the front foot. Forward Azaad Liadi was a constant threat with his hold up play.  

The Panthers created the first clear cut chance of the first half, though. Frank Rosenwald, who provided a consistent outlet down the right wing, set up Matthew Fearnley with an inch-perfect cross. The striker fluffed his lines from 6-yards out, however, and directed his shot wide of the left post. 

Kyle Clinton was the next Panther to create a scoring chance. The defender forced a tough save out of Jose Eduardo Bomfin.

Aris Briggs, who leads the team with nine goals on the season, was denied by a world class save in the 31st minute. Bomfim showed off his reflexes, diving down to his left to tip the header wide of the right post.

Georgia Southern then found first blood, against the run of play, in the 37th minute. Adam Davie won the ball of Clinton in the Eagles’ attacking third and set up PJ Amponsah, who took his time and fired his shot past Paul Tyson into the roof of the net. Amponsah turned to the Panthers’ bench and flexed his muscles during the celebration.

The Panthers tried to find an equalizer in the last few minutes, but their efforts were unsuccessful. As the half came to a close, the Eagles held strong and took a critical lead into the locker rooms.

Similar to the first half, Surrency’s men began the second half uncharacteristically sloppy. Georgia Southern won an early corner kick to increase the nerves of the home fans, but it came to nothing. 

Fearnley came agonizingly close to an equalizer in the 56th minute. The striker’s half volley clipped the right post as Bomfim helplessly looked on. The strike rejuvenated the team, as they began to take full control of the second half play. 

A couple minutes later, Fearnley had another clear cut chance but again pulled his effort wide. On another day, the sophomore could have had a hat trick.

Briggs hit the post in the 64th minute. The striker’s header beat Bomfim and struck the inside of the left post. A few fans began to celebrate as the ball flashed across the goal line before being cleared by a Georgia Southern defender.

Bomfim was called into action again in the 68th minute. The keeper produced another stellar save, again denying a Briggs header with an acrobatic leap to tip the ball over the net. The chances were beginning to pile up for Surrency’s men, but the Eagles continued to hold firm. The sophomore keeper was putting in a man-of-the-match performance.

Tyson matched his opposite number’s brilliance with a fantastic save of his own in the 75th minute. The redshirt junior from Liverpool, England laid out to deny a free kick destined for the right corner.

Liadi came inches away from sealing the victory in the 85th minute. The forward’s effort took a deflection and flew over Tyson’s crossbar. The Panthers dealt with the ensuing corner and broke off on a desperate counter attack, which led to a dramatic equalizer.  

Fearnley, who was a constant threat in the box, finally produced a finish he is capable of. Summerfield’s cross landed at the striker’s feet and he made no mistake, getting his name on the score sheet with a powerful volley into the bottom corner. The cheer from the crowd was one of utter relief. The match was suddenly wide open. 

Georgia Southern stole the contest in the final minute, however, and broke the Panthers’ hearts. After another poor giveaway in the defensive half, Asgeir Kristjansson slotted home past Tyson and sent the travelling fans into a jubilant uproar. 

Surrency’s men were the better team across 90 minutes, but the Eagles’ clinical nature in front of goal was the ultimate difference. For Georgia State’s seniors, the match was their final contest against the Eagles, unless a conference tournament matchup is still written in the stars.