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Men’s soccer: SoCon preseason favorite UNCG dominates Longwood

Four opening half goals and a two-goal night from forward Matt Mattis led Southern Conference preseason favorite UNCG to a 5-1 win over the Longwood men’s soccer team Tuesday night at the Athletics Complex.

Mattis scored a pair for the Spartans (2-0-0) to lead a group of four different goal scorers that handed UNCG its best start since the 2013 season, beating a Longwood side that was seeking its first 2-0 start in the program’s Division I era.

“There isn’t really too much I can say to sugar coat what was a very inexperienced first half display,” said Longwood head coach Jon Atkinson. “While things improved after the half, the damage was already done. Fair play to UNCG, they took our gifts with relish.”

The Spartans were able to overcome the first career goal for Shane Curtis, who headed in a ball off a corner kick from Jeremy Jaquier in the 30th minute. With the goal, Curtis joined Mikel Abando and Markus Gronli as newcomers to score throughout the first two games.

Jacob Reimers received his second consecutive start in goal for Longwood, allowing five goals on five shots. He was relieved by Miguel Bayma in the 73rd minute, who was credited with one save.

“What we can take from that is a lot of opportunities to grow,” Atkinson said. “We should be stung by tonight, rightly so and we have to give a response.”

UNCG starting goalkeeper Ricky Zarri made one save on two Longwood shots, combining for the clean sheet with Jon Milligan.

Mattis’ first goal came in the 37th minute after he beat Longwood goalkeeper Jacob Reimers to the far post and was the last of a four-goal barrage for the Spartans in the opening 45 minutes before finishing off the double on a flick from Nelson Oceano on a cross into the middle from Brooks Rice.

Mattis was one of four different Spartans to find the score sheet, as Jacob Planell opened the scoring in the 15th minute before Micah Albert added a goal five minutes later. Manny Apau also found the net, while Nelson Oceano, Cyril Owolabi, Brooks Rice and Moises Gonzalez each added an assist.

“I’m convinced we’ll be a better team because of this,” Atkinson said. “These are good players adjusting to college life and they will grow.”

Longwood plays the second game in its three-game home stand Monday, Sept. 3, hosting CAA preseason runner-up UNCW. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.