AMERICUS - It took three lightning delays, almost six hours and several tremendous defensive stops in the closing minutes, but the Georgia Southwestern men's soccer team earned a 1-0 win over UNC Pembroke on Saturday afternoon at Hurricane Field in the Peach Belt Conference opener for both schools.
The win is GSW's second straight and improves the Hurricanes record to 2-2 overall, 1-0 in the PBC. It's the first time GSW has collected back-to-back victories since 2011, when the Hurricanes opened the season 2-0, and it's the first time the program has enjoyed a winning record in conference play. Southwestern entered the match 0-8 all-time against UNCP.
From there the Hurricane defense locked down UNCP. After two lightning delays the men were back at it with 24 minutes remaining in the second half. The Braves had a golden opportunity shortly after the restart, but a potential one-on-one setup was stifled when a flicked pass sailed in front of the intended target.
The final lightning delay came with 5:09 on the clock. After nearly an hour in the locker room, GSW's defense proved to be too much to crack for UNCP, who falls to 0-3 overall, 0-1 in the PBC.
GSW goalkeeper Garrett Blamire earned the shutout with 11 saves. Kenneth Perkinson saved four for UNCP.
Espinoza took two shots on goal, including the game-winning score, to lead the Hurricane offense. Branco Theis and Kevin Vigebo collected three shots on goal apiece for the Braves.
UNCP finished with an 11-0 corner kick advantage which included nine attempts in the second half.
Southwestern returns to the pitch on Wednesday to host Thomas University in a midweek, non-conference tilt at 5 p.m.