MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- The Covenant men's soccer team avenged a loss earlier in the season and advanced to the USA South Tournament championship match in the process as the Scots downed No. 1 East seed Greensboro, 2-1, on Friday evening on the campus of Maryville College.
The No. 2 West seed Covenant (14-5-1) will play for a conference title, and a berth in the NCAA Tournament, on Saturday at 6 p.m. against the winner of Friday night's second semifinal between No. 1 West seed Maryville and No. 2 East seed N.C. Wesleyan.
The win was the seventh straight for the Scots. It also avenged a 2-1 loss to Greensboro back on Sept. 22 on Lookout Mountain.
In a heated match that saw eight cards (six for Greensboro and two for the Scots) and two Greensboro players red carded, Covenant was able to keep its cool and capitalize on opportunities. The teams also combined for 38 fouls.
In the 12th minute, Jesse Riggs' free kick from 40 yards out found the head of Ethan Pettit inside the box and Pettit was able to knock the shot off the left post and into the back of the net to give Covenant a 1-0 lead. The goal was Pettit's fourth of the year, and his third in the last three matches, while Riggs received the assist.
Greensboro, which had won 13 straight matches entering the day, found the equalizer in the 25th minute. After a Covenant foul, the Pride's Carlos Barragan curved in a free kick from 25 yards out and past the outstretched arms of Scots keeper Paul Lemay for the score.
Greensboro (15-3) outshot Covenant 15-8 in the opening period, but Lemay made three saves to keep the match tied entering the break.
In the second half, it was a penalty kick that made the difference. Riggs converted his fifth PK of the year, in five chances, in the 54th minute to give the Scots the lead again at 2-1. The goal was Riggs' eighth of the season.
Greensboro pushed hard over the final 35 minutes of play, but Covenant stood firm. The Pride collected all six of their cards in the second half and played a man down for the final 35 minutes after Thomas Gittany picked up his second yellow. Despite a player short, Greensboro peppered its attacking third as the Pride took 13 second-half shots and forced Lemay to make four saves.
Lemay made a save on Gerardo Peraza's attempt in the 87th minute and Greensboro would not be able to put another shot on target in the waning minutes.
Covenant saw its streak of four consecutive shutouts end, but Lemay made seven saves on the evening to get his 13th win of the year. Greensboro keeper Elmer Martinez made three saves in the loss.
Greensboro held a 28-18 edge in total shots. Jordy Briceno, the USA South Player of the Year, led all players with nine shots while Barragan had seven.
Covenant seeks its second USA South Tournament title, as the Scots will face the winner of Maryville/N.C. Wesleyan on Saturday at 6 p.m. on the campus of Maryville College. Covenant last won the title in 2014, defeating Maryville 2-0.
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