MARS HILL — Playing under the lights in the season-opener, the Trojans were unable to overcome a pair of first-half goals in a 2-1 loss at Mars Hill on Thursday night in non-conference play.
With the loss, the University of Mount Olive men’s soccer team drops to 0-1 to begin 2023 after being positioned sixth in the preseason Conference Carolinas preseason poll. It marked the first meeting between the sides in five years after meeting in back-to-back seasons in Greensboro, North Carolina in 2017-18. Meanwhile, Mars Hills improves to 1-0 this year and was selected eighth in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) preseason rankings.
After limited action in the opening 10 minutes of the match, junior goalkeeper Axel Engren made a pair of outstanding saves in the 11th and 13th minute as the contest remained scoreless. Mount Olive quickly responded on the offensive side of the pitch with two shots, including an opportunity by junior Rafael Obraczka, which sailed just over the crossbar at the 16:54-mark. The Lions found the back of the net in the 24th minute on a goal by Peter Plougmand to take a 1-0 advantage. UMO countered with a trio of shots but was unable to find the game-tying goal. In the final seconds of the first half, Plougmand scored his second goal of the contest after a remarkable individual effort to establish a 2-0 lead at halftime.
In the second half, the Trojans quickly cut into the deficit as senior Amin Ferreira scored his first goal of the season with an assist awarded to teammate Greg Boko at the 47:35-mark, 2-1. Both sides struggled to create opportunities over the next 10-plus minutes with zero shots and one corner kick recorded. Sophomore Jacques Sousa nearly tied the match in the 78th minute after lacing a shot into the bottom-left corner, which was saved by the Lion goalkeeper. UMO registered three more shots in the finals 10 minutes, but Mars Hills secured the 2-1 home win.
Engren played all 90 minutes of the match and collected four saves after facing 15 shots in the loss.
Mars Hills finished with a 15-11 edge in shots, including a slight 6-5 lead in shots on goal, while UMO held a 6-4 advantage on corner kicks.
The Trojans continue their season-opening road trip on Saturday, Sept. 2 at Limestone in non-conference action with kickoff set for 2 p.m.