ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Navy men’s soccer team faced defeat against UNC Asheville with a 2-1 loss, marking the 2023 season’s opener on Thursday night at the Greenwood Soccer Field in Asheville, N.C. This game snapped the Midshipmen’s four-game winning streak in season openers and served as their first loss in a season opener since 2018.

In the first half, despite commendable saves from Navy’s junior goalkeeper Pierce Holbrook, defensive mistakes were made that the Midshipmen couldn’t overcome. In a turning point at the 10th minute, a transition miscue by Navy allowed Seth Hammond to connect with Sergio Baguena for UNC Asheville’s first goal of the season, with a wide-open shot from outside the box.

Navy responded with multiple opportunities, but UNC Asheville’s Charlie Farrar secured three saves, and Aysa Hamid scored the second goal for the Bulldogs in the 42nd minute, leaving the score at 2-0. The first half ended with two more thwarted chances for Navy.

The second half saw a quick goal from Navy’s senior David Jackson, but the Bulldogs’ response was immediate, resulting in Sam Pitts-Eckersall’s goal in the 48th minute, assisted by Roger Sanguinetti. Holbrook’s impressive performance continued with multiple saves, keeping the score at 3-1.

Despite a spirited offensive push from Navy in the final 20 minutes, including shots from freshman Ben Leisegang, UNC Asheville held their ground to secure a two-goal victory.

Head Coach Tim O’Donohue commented on the match, saying, “We were able to play well in stretches tonight, but we happened to make some mistakes in transition on the back side that led to their goals. Asheville is a tough place to play at and we have to fix a couple of things defensively, but I am confident that we will come back strong with a packed week at home coming up.”

Match Notes:

  • Thursday’s outcome evened the all-time series between Navy and UNC Asheville at 1-1.
  • O’Donohue’s record in season openers at Navy now stands at 3-4-1.
  • Navy’s all-time record in season openers is 70-19-14.
  • Jackson’s goal is the 14th of his career, marking 40 points in 43 career games.
  • Jackson has been involved in Navy’s first goal of the season in each of his four years with the program.
  • Holbrook tallied four saves on Thursday, making three-or-more saves in seven of his last nine matches.

Up Next:

Navy is set to return to Annapolis for its home opener against VMI on Monday, Aug. 28, initiating a four-game homestand. The 7 p.m. contest will begin a stretch of three games in seven days for the Mids, including matches against Howard on Friday, Sept. 1, and Liberty on Sunday, Sept. 3.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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