Regionally-ranked Braves edge Bulldogs, 1-0

Barton senior captain Ricardo Oliveira battling for possession of the ball in the first half of Wednesday's match | by Kevin Buczek
Barton senior captain Ricardo Oliveira battling for possession of the ball in the first half of Wednesday's match | by Kevin Buczek

by Kevin Buczek

Visiting UNC Pembroke – ranked 4th in the current NSCAA/Continental Tire Southeast Region Poll – scored an early goal and then escaped several late scoring chances by Barton College en route to a 1-0 NCAA Division II Southeast Region victory at the Barton Outdoor Athletic Complex Wednesday evening.

Junior Kevin Vigebo scored the game-winning goal just 9:29 into play as the Braves improved to 4-1 on the season.

Junior Nick Ahlquist nearly scored the equalizer for the Bulldogs (0-3-1) in the 84th minute with a hard shot from inside the box but his attempt was deflected at the last second by UNCP defender Payne Clark on the goal line.

Barton took four of its 11 shots in the final seven minutes but was held scoreless for the second time in four contests. The Bulldogs will try and get into the win column on Saturday when Barton entertains Erskine College to open up Conference Carolinas play during BC's Family Weekend.  

Clark did not need to make a save in recording his third shutout. Barton held a narrow 11-10 shot edge but 10 of the Bulldogs attempts were either errant or blocked.

The Royal Blue and White had the best scoring chances early but a pair of good strikes by junior Erik Pajunk and Dante De Luca in the first seven minutes sailed high.

A corner kick taken by senior Jeff MacDonald eventually led to the Braves only tally. MacDonald's service was broken up by Barton but sophomore Rico Laitinen quickly regained possession for UNCP and crossed the ball to Vigebo at the top of the 18-yard line. Vigebo then fired a low shot inside the right post.

The visitors nearly doubled up the lead three minutes later on a couple shots by sophomore Reece Rooney and Laitinen. Rooney's first try went off the left post and Laitinen's chance off the rebound went over the crossbar.

The two teams each had a couple of chances later in the first half with sophomore Kevin Strassburger advancing the ball on the left wing several times for the Bulldogs. Strassburger was able to get a couple of powerful shots off the dribble but each attempt was blocked by UNCP defenders.

There were fewer scoring chances in the second half until the last 10 minutes as foul totals started to rise. The Braves committed 14 of their 21 fouls in the final 45 minutes. Barton was whistled 11 times.

Senior goalkeeper Vasily Yakimkin had two saves including a diving stop on a sophomore James Casserly header in the 65th minute. Yakimkin was just able to deflect the ball wide of the right post to set up one of the Braves six corner kicks. The Bulldogs only corner came in the 84th minute after a shot by Pajunk was blocked.