PEMBROKE — The University of North Carolina at Pembroke broke a three-game losing streak in the best way possible on Wednesday.
The Braves took the lead two minutes in on a goal by Rico Laitinen and held on to beat No. 3 Lander 3-0.
It’s UNCP’s first win over a top-3 ranked team and Lander’s first loss of the year.
“This was an unbelievable effort from every guy tonight from the starters and the subs,” said UNCP coach Phil Hindson. “The guys gave such incredible effort and I couldn’t we more proud of the way they played. We have dealt with some adversity during the season and in the game, but we were waiting for this win. We challenged the desire and the enthusiasm of the guys and we got that from everyone.”
Laitinen’s opening goal came on a set play beginning with a corner kick in the third minute on the assists by Payne Clark and Sam Miles for a shot to the lower left corner of the goal, which put the Braves (6-4-0, 3-3-0 Peach Belt Conference) ahead for the remainder of the game and send the squad into halftime with the 1-0 lead.
At the start of the 65th minute, Miles scored on the long cross pass by Laitinen and Reece Rooney for a shot inside the box to the lower left corner. Nearly 13 minutes later, Clark put the nail in with a header near the right post off a cross pass from Miles.
The Bearcats logged an 8-4 shot advantage after the first half and registered 12 additional shots in the second half compared to UNCP’s five. UNCP goalie Ryan Hanson grabbed two saves through his 90 minutes in goal and posted his fifth shutout — a league best in the category — of the season. Nielson logged three saves and suffered his first loss between the posts this season.
Lander shuts out women’s soccer
Lander’s Taylor Piorkowski was too much for the UNCP women’s soccer team, scoring both goals in a 2-0 win over the Braves at Varsity Grounds on Wednesday.
The Bearcats (9-0, 5-0) are undefeated this season and hold an all-time series record against the Braves (5-5, 3-3).
“I thought Lander came out and played with much more intensity, it just looked like they wanted it more than we did,” UNCP coach Lars Andersson said. I’m disappointed in our effort, obviously this was an opportunity to put ourselves at 4-2 in the conference and in the hunt for a first-round home game come tournament time.”
Piorkowski opened the scoring in the 18th minute on a header into the upper right corner after a service in the box from Nina Morales. The duo connected again in the second half when Morales found Piorkowski in the 48th minute.
Moonlight Madness next week
The men’s and women’s basketball teams will host their third annual Moonlight Madness event on Oct. 17 at the English E. Jones Center.
The annual event, which will start at 7 p.m., will include player introductions, skill demonstrations, a dunk contest and a 20-minute scrimmage by both the men’s and women’s teams to highlight the night. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in contests to win prizes including an Apple iPad, as well as judge the dunk contest.
Admission and parking is free.
Football holds at No.14 in poll
The UNCP football team stayed steady in its off week, holding at No. 14 in the latest top 25 poll by D2Football.com.
The top 22 spots in the D2Football.com poll remain unchanged, with very little movement in the remainder of the release. Then-No. 23 St. Cloud State dropped out of this week’s ranking following a 34-7 road loss to Minnesota-Duluth which allowed Emporia State and Grand Valley to inch up a spot, and Tarleton State to re-enter the ranking.
Volleyball sweeps weekly awards
Coming off of an offensive performance that led the UNCP volleyball team to a 3-0 weekend, Caroline Pridgen and Shekinah-Joy Toloumu swept the AstroTurf/Peach Belt Conference weekly awards.
Pridgen was named the PBC Player of the Week and Toloumuw was named PBC Specialist of the Week, marking just the second time in school history that Lady Braves have claimed both of the weekly awards.