STATESBORO – The Georgia Southern men’s soccer team sent its three seniors out in fine fashion Saturday night as the Eagles defeated long-time rival Appalachian State 3-1 and claimed a share of the regular season Sun Belt Conference title. The game against the Mountaineers served as the Eagles’ Senior Night with the Eagles recognizing three graduating players – Chris MacMurray, Aidan Reising and Jeremy Rector – prior to the game.
In the 30th minute, Rector fittingly put the Eagles up 1-0 when he scored his second goal of the season off a feed from Adam Abdellaoui. Not to be out-down by his fellow senior, Reising then gave the Eagles a little breathing room nearly three minutes later with an unassisted goal of his own that came off a deflected shot. Redshirt freshman David Rhoades closed out the Eagles’ scoring with a goal in the 59th minute off a feed from junior Nick Wells. App State was able to get a goal back in the 69th minute when Keegan Tanaka took a deflected ball and put it into the net.
Georgia Southern ends the year 3-1-1 in Sun Belt Conference action, marking the best league record for the Eagles in a decade. The Eagles finish the regular season tied with Coastal Carolina atop the standings with 10 points each and identical 3-1-1 league records. It is the first conference title for the men’s soccer program.
App State (5-8-4) – 1
Georgia Southern (8-7-3) – 3
30’ – GS – Jeremy Rector (2), assisted by Adam Abdellaoui – Abdellaoui chip shot across the box, Rector cleaned up with a well-placed ball across the goal into the bottom right of the net
33’ – GS – Aidan Reising (1), unassisted – Abdellaoui had a shot blocked, ball was played around in the box before Reising corralled it in and scored
59’ – GS – David Rhoades (2) assisted by Nick wells – Wells played the ball into the box with Rhoades finishing to lower left corner of net
69’ – APP – Keegan Tanaka (1), unassisted – ball bounced around the box before Tanaka collected and put it into the upper left of the net
- Georgia Southern is now 14-15-1 all-time against App State, including 7-5 in Statesboro. The Eagles have won the last four meetings between the two programs and have earned a positive result in five consecutive games against the Mountaineers dating back to the 2012 season.
- Saturday night’s 3-1 victory was the largest margin of victory in the series since the Eagles won 2-0 in Boone, N.C., on during the 2006 regular-season.
- With Saturday night’s 3-1 victory and a 2-1 win by Coastal Carolina over Georgia State in Conway, S.C., the Eagles finish the season tied with the Chanticleers in the regular-season standings, but CCU takes the top seed in the upcoming Sun Belt Conference Championship based off a tie breaker scenario. Both the Chants and Eagles ended the year with 10 points and the two programs worked to a scoreless draw on Oct. 15, but CCU ended Sun Belt Conference play with a goal differential ratio of 2.0 compared to the Eagles’ 1.6.
- After finishing the regular-season tied atop the league standings, Georgia Southern has earned a bye in the first round of the Sun Belt Conference Championships which will be hosted by Georgia State in Atlanta next week. It is the third straight year GS has earned a first-round bye in the conference tournament.
- Georgia Southern’s 3-1-1 (.700) record in conference action is the best league mark for the Eagles since the 2006 season. That year, GS went 4-1-2 (.714) in the SoCon and finished the year second in the league standings.
- Redshirt freshman Torgeir Fjaer is now 6-5-3 on the year.
- Aidan Reising’s goal in the 33rd minute proved to be the game-winner for the Eagles Saturday night. It is the second game-winning goal in his career.
- With his second goal of the season in the 30th minute, Jeremy Rector has now scored multiple goals in all four seasons he has played for Georgia Southern. Rector scored three goals in each of his first three seasons and has two goals so far this year.
QUOTE FROM COACH JOHN MURPHY
On ending the season with a 3-1 win over rival App State on Senior Night
“I thought it was a great performance by our entire team and to end the season on a high note like this with Senior Night, it just adds to it. But the overall performance, with the exception of conceding the goal, it was a pretty comprehensive effort on our part. I was impressed with Appalachian State and their appetite for work matches ours as they certainly didn’t make it easy. We had a good grip of things and created quite a number of chances while limiting theirs. Conceding the way we did was a bit frustrating, but we’re so open going forward and so committed in our attack that sometimes it leaves us a bit open and vulnerable. With a young team we just have to find that balance of attacking properly while still having the shape to avoid being exposed the way that we did.”
On being co-conference regular-season champions
“It’s always nice to earn something like this and congratulations to Coastal Carolina as well. There wasn’t much that separated us when we played them out in Conway, so perhaps it’s appropriate for us to share the championship. They did what they had to do to get the one-seed, so congratulations to them on that. But the important thing is we are one of the top two seeds and get the bye into the semifinal round. When you’re playing so many games in a short amount of time, we’re not going to take anything for granted. We’ll take a look at the bracket, get some clarification on who we could possibly play, set some new post-season goals and get ourselves prepared for a semifinal game on Friday. That’s exciting and a lot of things are in play for us. We haven’t taken anything for granted all year and I think the record over the season shows that we were amongst the best teams in the conference and I think it’s a great credit to our players and our coaching staff.
Georgia Southern will now prepare to play in the Sun Belt Conference Championships held in Atlanta and hosted by Georgia State next week. The tournament will run from Thursday, Nov. 10, through Sunday, Nov. 13. The Eagles earned a bye from the first round and will play on Friday, Nov. 11. The Eagles will play the winner of the first-round matchup between No. 6 Howard and No. 3 Georgia State.