Winthrop coach Rich Posipanko has waited all year for the Eagles to put together two solid halves of soccer.
It finally came Thursday as the third-seeded Eagles opened defense of their Big South Conference championship with a 3-0 victory over sixth-seed High Point at Eagle Field.
"I thought we finally played a complete game," Posipanko said as he walked to the dressing room. "It was a good start. Our ball possession was good as well as our intensity and work rate."
The Eagles (11-3-2) advanced to tonight's semifinals, where they'll take on No. 2 Liberty -- a 2-1 winner over UNC Asheville -- at 7 p.m. Coastal Carolina, the tournament's No. 1 seed and winner of a first-day bye, meets No. 4 Radford at 4 p.m. today. The Highlanders bested VMI 2-0.
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"That was our best, complete game by far," said junior Daniel Revivo, the All-Big South first-team selection who scored Winthrop's first goal. "We've been struggling with consistency and we know we have to kick it up a notch in the tournament."
Strong winds made play tough on every team, according to Posipanko. It helped the Eagles get on the board first.
The wind was blowing especially hard from the golf course end of the field toward the Winthrop Coliseum.
In the 16th minute, High Point goalie Adam Ross struck a poor goal kick that didn't get five feet off the ground and nowhere near midfield.
"It just died right in front of me," said Revivo, who had a clear path to the goal and scored his 13th goal of the season.
Revivo also contributed to the first of Saidi Isaac's two goals.
One goal, Isaac's 11th on the season, came in the 29th minute. Revivo got the play started by finding Sean Weron near the top of the box. Weron got the ball to Isaac in perfect position and the senior forward's header beat Ross.
Isaac's last score came in the 77th minute when he slammed a shot by Corey Whisenhunt.
The Eagles' offense kept the pressure on the young Panthers all evening with 23 shots, 12 on goal.
Winthrop held High Point in check, giving the Panthers just five shots. Patrick Mitrovich, the Eagles' All-Big South keeper, stopped four shots on goal to record his fourth clean sheet of the year.
This is the second straight year the Eagles posted a 3-0 tournament victory over the Panthers. Last year's win came in the championship game.
"I think High Point is a team that's better than the record indicates," Posipanko said. "They're young and everyone will need to watch down the road."
Posipanko expects another tight game against the Flames, who beat the Eagles 1-0 in Lynchburg, Va., earlier this year.