Men’s soccer victorious on senior night, earn first-round bye

McLeod Brown | Sports Editor

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Although the UNCW men’s soccer team entered their regular-season finale against Northeastern having already secured a berth in the six-team CAA tournament beginning this weekend, they didn’t play like a team that had anything less to prove.

Colin Bonner recorded the first UNCW hat trick since 2011 while Jamie Dell netted the game-winner as the home team topped the visiting Huskies 4-2 on senior night.

The Seahawks, predicted to finish fifth in the conference in the league’s preseason poll, wrap their regular season at 9-5-2 overall and a 4-2-1 conference record, good enough for second in the CAA and a first-round bye in the conference tourney.

“It was a hell of a scrap,” said Coach Aidan Heaney. “Tough conditions and Northeastern is a difficult team to play against. It was kind of a seesaw game. We go up, they come back, then we pull ahead and we give away a goal. A little bit of a roller coaster of the game, but credit the players for showing some determination and willingness to win.”

Bonner opened up the scoring early when he was able to finish off a long pass from senior Michael Parrish, whom was honored for senior night before the game, in the 16th minute.

Northeastern’s Conner Alexander answered back in the 22nd minute, however, after he was able to head in the rebound shot when Nikko Lara’s free kick was deflected by UNCW freshman keeper Sean Melvin.

Bonner then scored his second tally of the night in the 25th minute when he converted a failed save by Huskie keeper Dylan Faber after Nathaniel Goodwin’s shot ricocheted off him.

The Seahawks took a 2-1 advantage into the break, their fifth halftime lead of the year, having won the only other four times they had a lead during intermission.

Northeastern came out firing in the second half as they knotted the score at 2-2 when Dante Marini capitalized on a defensive miscue by UNCW.

Instead of allowing the score to wear on them, the Seahawks continued playing their game.

“The players like Parrish and Jacob VanCompernolle in the back were just determined not to give them (Northeastern) chances,” Heaney said. “I thought that team would really worry us tonight. I thought the first half we played with a lot of good, attractive soccer, and then the second half was more trying to be effective. We were and we managed to get four goals to finish the game.”

Jamie Dell scored the go-ahead goal for UNCW on Goodwin’s second assist of the night in the 74th minute. Goodwin crossed the ball in from the right side of the field were Dell as was able to knock it in from five yards out.

Bonner earned the hat trick when he finished off the scoring with a header in the 77th minute.

The win was even more significant for the senior midfielder Parrish. Being one of only two seniors on the team, the other being exchange student Hector Martin, Parrish has been a leader on the team the entire season, no game more important than Wednesday’s.

“I think setting a good example is vital, with a bunch of younger guys, a lot of freshmen and sophomore coming through the ranks,” said Parrish on his role this year. “We have a number of juniors that set an example as well, but being one of the seniors, they look to me for advice and experience throughout the four years about how they should do things as well or shouldn’t do.”