JMU men’s soccer advances to CAA finals
The win moves Madison to the CAA Finals on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. The Dukes will take on No. 1 Delaware with the winner earning the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. JMU’s appearance in the CAA Championship match marks the first time the Dukes will participate in the match since 2001 when JMU topped William & Mary. Delaware is making just its second appearance in the CAA Finals. In their only other trip to the Championship, the Blue Hens won the 2011 title in Harrisonburg.
Senior forward Josh Grant (Plymouth, England/Torpoint College) got the Dukes on the board in the 34th minute when he put home his fifth goal of the season past UNCW goalkeeper Sam Williams. After freshman midfielder Francisco Narbon (Panama City, Panana/Shattuck St. Mary’s (Minn.)) collected a ball at midfield, he found redshirt-freshman defender Toby Appleton (Cheshire, England) at the top of the penalty area. Appleton corralled the ball, then touched a pass to Grant, who was charging down the middle of the box between defenders. After two touches, Grant sent his shot to the left side of goal past Williams for his team-leading 13th and 14th points.
Early in the second half, senior midfielder Jonathan Barden (Harrow, England/Park) stepped up and put home a penalty kick to put the Dukes up 2-0 after redshirt-sophomore forward Connor Coward(Centreville, Va./Centreville) was knocked down by Williams. The UNCW keeper was issued a yellow card and on the ensuing attempt by Barden, he guessed correctly but Barden’s shot was just hard enough to get past Williams to the left side.
With the win, JMU moves to 9-7-4 on the season and has now won back-to-back games for the second time this season. The first time the Dukes accomplished the feat came Sept. 12 and 14 in Nashville, Tennessee, when Madison beat Belmont 2-1 and Lipscomb 1-0, respectively.
Redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Morton (West Chester, Pa./Reed Henderson) recorded his eighth shutout of the season after making just one save in the contest. The Seahawks (12-4-2) had six shots in the game but the defense in front of Morton came up with a lot of deflections on balls to thwart UNCW opportunities before they could get to Morton.
The shutout marks the second shutout in a row for the Dukes and the fourth overall in the last six games.
In the regular season, JMU topped then-No. 21 Delaware 1-0 on Oct. 8 in Newark when freshman forward Joe Vyner (Bath, Somerset, England/Beeches Cliff School) scored the game-winner in the 83rd minute.
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