JMU men’s soccer battles UNC Wilmington to 1-1 draw

jmu logoThe James Madison men’s soccer team battled No. 25 UNCW to a 1-1 draw Saturdaynight at University Park in Colonial Athletic Association action.

Playing its fourth ranked opponent in a row, JMU (5-4-3 overall, 1-0-1 CAA) fell behind early when Mark Harris scored his first goal of the season in the 29th minute. UNCW leading scorer Jamie Dell fired a hard shot from the right side to the left of redshirt-sophomore Kyle Morton (West Chester, Pa./Reed Henderson) and Morton made a diving save. The ensuing rebound bounced straight out to Harris and the senior buried his shot in a wide open net.

The Dukes responded nine minutes later when redshirt-sophomore midfielder Connor Coward (Centreville, Va./Centreville) tallied his second goal of the season. On a corner kick taken by senior midfielder Jonathan Barden (Harrow, England/Park), the ball freely bounced around in the middle of the box. Coward corralled it six yards out and put his shot past UNCW goalkeeper Sam Williams, who was making his first start of the season after goalkeeper Sean Melvin had started the previous 12 games and played every minute between the pipes for the Seahawks.

Coward scored his first-career goal in double overtime on Sept. 23 against West Virginia. That was the last home game for the Dukes prior to Saturday’s match against UNCW (9-2-2, 2-1-1).

Madison had an excellent chance to take the lead late in the 75th minute when junior midfielder Eric Schmidt (Arlington, Va./Washington-Lee) broke loose and created a one-on-one with Williams. After a touch at the top of the box, Schmidt tried to chip his shot over a charging Williams but the attempt sailed over the crossbar.

One minute later, Jack Ward, who had just come off the bench for the Seahawks, took a shot on goal from the top-left side of the penalty area and forced Morton to make a sprawling save. Morton responded and knocked the shot out for a corner, which was later cleared out of harm’s way by the JMU defense.

With time winding down in regulation, redshirt-sophomore defender Toby Appleton (Cheshire, England) collected a ball at the top-left corner of the box and dribbled parallel with the box before taking a shot that was deflected and went inches wide of the right post. Appleton is one of four JMU players with two goals this season for the Dukes.

Both teams had numerous corner kicks in overtime but neither side could make anything of the opportunities as both defenses stood tall to preserve the draw.

UNCW outshot the Dukes 19-12 in the contest. The Seahawks put six of its 19 shots on target while JMU put four on goal.

After holding Delaware’s Guillermo Delgado, the conference’s leading scorer, off the board in a 1-0 victoryWednesday in Newark, JMU kept Dell, the CAA’s second-leading scorer entering play Saturday, out of the back of the net. His best chance to score came in the 83rd minute when he was one-on-one with junior defender Bjarki Aðalsteinsson (Kópavogur, Iceland/Menntaskólinn í Kópavogi). Aðalsteinsson played great defense on Dell, though, and did not allow him to take a shot on goal to help keep the game tied at 1-1. Dell has scored seven goals this year for the Seahawks.

JMU has gone 1-1-2 in its last four contests, all of which have been played against ranked opponents. Overall, JMU is 1-1-3 against ranked teams (a 1-1 draw against then-No. 16 Penn State, a scoreless draw against then-No. 22 Furman, a 2-1 loss to then-No. 19 Virginia, a 1-0 win at No. 21 Delaware and Saturday’s 1-1 draw against No. 25 UNCW).

The Dukes return to action Wednesday, Oct. 15, in Philadelphia against Drexel. First kick between JMU and the Dragons is set for 7 p.m.


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