LEXINGTON, Va. -- Despite taking 19 shots, Winthrop men's soccer team was unable to find the back of the net in a 0-0 tie against Virginia Military Institute on Sunday afternoon in Big South Conference action.
One of the main reasons for the Eagles' inability to score was the play of VMI keeper Brian Sowell, who came up with several key saves (nine total) and also received a little help from the crossbar.
Sowell made two big saves in the first overtime as Winthrop (7-2-2, 1-1-1) was applying heavy pressure. Stephen Nsereko ran on to a pass played behind the Keydets' defense and ripped a shot to the near post that bounced off the top right corner of the crossbar toward the front of the net. Just over a minute later, the ball came rolling out to Sean Weron off a deflection and he ripped a shot that looked as if it were going into the net, but Sowell made another save. Nsereko broke behind the defense again and ripped a low shot, but Sowell was there again for the save.
Midway through the second half, Sowell took away what was a sure goal from the foot of Ben Kieffner. After a ball was played into the box, Sowell challenged it in the air and knocked it away. However, Sowell's clearance short-hopped in front of the net and Kieffner stepped up and ripped a ball about chest high that was on frame toward the unprotected net. Sowell leaped up and got a hand on the shot, knocking it away for a corner.
In the 76th minute, John Gilkerson had a free header at the back door on a cross, but his shot was stopped by a diving Sowell.
Winthrop had the best chance of the two teams to get on the scoreboard as a penalty kick was awarded when Saidi Isaac was tackled from behind on his way to a one-on-one, just inside the 18-yard box in the 24th minute. Junior Daniel Revivo, who is tied for the team lead in goals with eight, stepped in to take the penalty. However, Revivo's shot to the lower right corner didn't have enough pace and Sowell made the save.
Things were going well for the Eagles offensively, despite the missed penalty kick, until the 34th minute when Miquel Casajuana was given a red card. Casajuana's infraction put the Eagles down to 10 men for the remaining 77 minutes of the game.
Sowell wasn't the only one making big saves. Winthrop's Patrick Mitrovich came up with two big saves against VMI (5-5-2, 1-1-1) at the end of regulation. Both saves were point-blank with Daniel Welsh having the best chance to score as he had Mitrovich leaning one way and hit the shot the other way. Mitrovich was able to extend his arm out and make a save on what seemed like a sure goal. Mitrovich finished with four saves and earned his second shutout of the season.
Winthrop will get some much-needed rest as it won't play its next game until Sunday, when the Eagles will host Radford at 2 p.m.
• CROSS COUNTRY: In Greenville, the Winthrop men's cross country team turned in a strong showing behind the strong performances of Trevor Beesley and Brad Orr to finish third out of 18 teams in the Furman Invitational on Saturday at the Furman Golf Course.
Beesley finished third over the 8K course in a time of 26:06, only 11 seconds behind the winning time of East Tennessee's Kenneth Rotich. Winthrop's Brad Orr was clocked in 26:09 to finish fourth while Brandon Hudgins finished 10th with a time of 26:43.
Casey Lyons placed 30th with a time of 27:17. He was followed by Ben Henderson in 57th position (28:03), Justin Meade in 75th (28:34) and Tyler Hudgins in 88th (28:59).
East Tennessee captured first place with 40 points, followed by Charlotte with 83 points. Winthrop compiled 91 points.
The Winthrop women's cross country team finished seventh out of 19 schools at the Furman Invitational.
Winthrop was led by Carly Moss's 29th-place finish as she covered the 5K course in a time of 19:35. Winthrop's other runners and their times were: Carey Phillips, 41st place (19:47); Brooke Spencer, 47th (19:50); Lisa Sickman, 59th (20:03); Theresa Verostek, 60th (20:03); Lisa Prestifillipo, 81st (20:43); Samantha Coburn, 90th (20:52); Kaitlyn Carbary, 111th (21:38); and Amy Rundio, 124th (22:19).
Charlotte won the team championship with a score of 60 points, followed by Clemson in second place at 79. Winthrop compiled 213 points. Stephanie Place of Tennessee Tech won the individual title with a time of 17:50.
• MEN'S TENNIS: In Columbia, the Winthrop men's tennis team competed in day two of the USC Fall Invitational on Saturday, and performed well for the second straight day.
Senior Rodrigo Santos competed in the A-2 singles draw and won both of his matches by defeating Phillip Pakebusch of Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 and Jon Wolff of Wake Forest 3-6, 6-4, 4-2 (ret.).
Junior Vinicius Bortolatto competed in the A-1 singles draw and defeated Andre Bubnoy of UNC-Greensboro 6-3, 6-3.
Bortolatto would later be defeated in the draw by Oscar Posada of East Tennessee State 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Junior Arthur Takahashi defeated Martin King of CIT 6-3, 6-0 in the B-2 singles draw, but would be defeated later by David Grund of South Carolina State 6-3, 6-3.
Senior Alejandro Portugal also competed in day two of the invitational, but was defeated by Thomas Stoddard of USC 7-5, 5-7, 6-1 in the B-1 singles draw.