College Sports

Winthrop men's soccer team expects heated battle with Coastal Carolina today

Make a list of necessary ingredients needed to qualify a soccer match as a "big game", then match it up with what is on the line tonight in Conway for the Winthrop men's soccer match at Coastal Carolina.

This one is big. A Winthrop win clinches the Big South regular season title for the Eagles and the top seed in next week's conference tournament. If the Eagles tie or lose they will need a win Saturday at home against High Point to earn the top seed.

Easier said than done though.

The all-time series favors Coastal 20-14-2. Winthrop is 4-7-2 all-time at Coastal and has lost seven straight to the Chanticleers away from Eagle Field. The last good result in Conway was in 2001, a 2-2 tie.

Winthrop has not won in Conway since 1991.

"This has always been a big game for us. It seems like all the games are decided by one goal and go into overtime," Winthrop coach Rich Posipanko said.

Indeed, the last three meetings have been one-goal affairs, two of which went to overtime.

Winthrop's seven seniors are hoping to get the win. Especially against Coastal. The Chants are the one team the seniors have not beaten in their time four years at Winthrop.

Winthrop senior defender Otto Loewy gave the team a pep talk Tuesday afternoon. He left no doubt in his teammates' minds how big the game was for him and for the team.

"I told them we need to take this practice session right now and focus on the game tomorrow. This will be a good opportunity for the freshman, sophomores and juniors to beat Coastal and get it over with. The seniors have never done it," the co-captain said.

"I told them to take one game at a time. Win one game at a time and we can put together a string."

The Eagles trained without several players this week following a rough match against Gardner-Webb last week. Leading scorer Daniel Revivo needed 18 stitches to close a deep cut on his shin. The gash was caused by a Bulldog defender sliding in to him. He has been given doctor's clearance to play today but has to be checked after warm ups and at halftime to be sure the stitches were holding.

Revivo is tied for third place on Winthrop's all-time goals scored list with 47.

Three midfielders -- Miquel Casajuana, Stephen Nserko and Grant Wise -- are dealing with hamstring injuries. Defender Henry Kalungi is nursing an turned ankle. Forward Matt Skonicki trained Monday and Tuesday but hasn't gone full speed yet on his high-ankle sprain.

Casajuana was tabbed Big South Player of the Week on Tuesday. He scored the game-winning goal against Gardner-Webb last week.

"I really didn't expect it. But it is nice to be recognized for good effort on the field," the redshirt sophomore from Barcelona, Spain said.

He has seen more time at forward with Skonicki out of the lineup the last few games. Casajuana is third on the team with five goals this season.

Skonicki may play today and that would only help the Eagles cause.

"We are a better team with Skonicki in there," Casajuana said.

With more than half the Eagles starting lineup hurt, Posipanko gave quick thought to giving the injured players some rest. But he dismissed the idea and was sure the players wouldn't want to sit out if they were physically able to play.

"We could rest the players and be ready for the tournament. But I want to win the regular season and the players do too. This is important to us," Posipanko said.

Posipanko, in his 30th year coaching, will miss the game to take care of family obligations. He has only missed one other match in all those years.

Associate head coach Dan Ridenhour will run the show in Conway.