Athens, Tenn. – On Tuesday afternoon, the Bryan College Lions Men's Soccer team made the short drive to Athens, Tenn. where they battled Tennessee Wesleyan University in an Appalachian Athletic Conference showdown and used two second-half goals to knock off the Bulldogs for the 2-1 victory. The contest marks Bryan's third consecutive win, which have all come against fellow AAC schools. The Lions improve to 8-4 overall and 4-1 in conference play, while the Bulldogs fall to 7-4 overall and 2-3 in AAC action.
Tennessee Wesleyan got the edge in shot attempts during the opening period as they outshot Bryan 5-3, but reigning AAC defensive player of the week guarded the goal for the Lions, Alex Horton (JR/Nuneaton, England), and secured three extraordinary saves to keep the Bulldogs without a score. In the 20th-minute, Charlie Clarke (JR/Norwich, England) nearly broke the silence as he released a strike, which met the hands of Tennessee Wesleyan's goalkeeper, Nick Croucher. Despite a handful of close calls, neither team could get on the board as the first half came to a close.
Following the break, the Lions were able to regain focus and take the pitch reenergized as it took only 35 seconds for Bryan to successfully attack with Clarke finding an open Jonathan Ricketts (SO/Dayton, Tennessee) the opposite side of the goal. Ricketts corralled the pass, shook the only defender between him and the goal, and set up a one-on-one scenario with Croucher. Ricketts prevailed as he drove the ball into the back of the net, providing Bryan with a 1-0 advantage.
The Lions continued to outplay the Bulldogs and capitalized for the game-deciding goal nearly 10 minutes later as Clarke found himself on another scoring setup for Bryan. This time around, the Lions punched the ball into the box with a sequence of quick passes. When it looked like Tennessee Wesleyan had escaped another threat by Bryan, Clarke took control of the ball and threaded a pass to Brad Spooner (SO/Norwich, England). Spooner used no hesitation as he connected with the ball and sailed it past several Bulldogs and into the goal for the 2-0 lead.
Bryan controlled a multi-goal advantage for 20 minutes before Tennessee Wesleyan caught a break at 76:28 and avoided the shutout with their only score of the match. For the next 13 and a half minutes, the Lions silenced the Bulldogs, allowing them no more shots as Bryan sealed the 2-1 decision.
The Lions ended the outing with a 9-7 edge over the Bulldogs in shots after overwhelming the home team 6-2 in the final half. Ricketts, Spooner, Aaron Attree (FR/Norwich, England), and Keith Lyons (JR/Dandridge, Tennessee) all finished with two shots apiece, while Clarke tallied the only other look by Bryan. Clarke moved his assists' total this season to five after dishing out a pair in the game. Ricketts led the team with two shots on target and scored his fourth goal of the year. Spooner now stands at eight goals this season, which is second on the team behind Clarke's 10.
Bryan takes a break from AAC play and hosts Florida National University on Saturday, Oct. 7 for the Lion's annual homecoming weekend. The Lions and Conquistadors kickoff at 2pm.
To view the full 2017 men's soccer schedule, click here.
Follow Bryan Men's Soccer on Twitter @BCLionsMSoc.