The Union County soccer team opened region play with a thrilling win over Chapman on Tuesday night, 3-2.
The Panthers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the opening minutes but Union County responded with a goal from Michael Cunningham to knot the game, 1-1 at intermission. The Jackets came out strong in the second half and put up two points within the first 20 minutes to claim a 3-1 advantage.
Union County broke the 1-1 tie when Will Holcombe played a ball over the top of the defense and found Cunningham who put away his second goal with a well placed kick to the left corner. David Beavens connected with Louis Mercado on a throw-in and Mercado sent a a shot past the Chapman goalie for the 3-1 lead. With 15 minutes left in regulation Chapman answered with a goal of its own, then set up a furious press in an attempt to send the game to overtime. Union County’s defense held firm with help from goalie Jake Benfield who went on to record 15 saves in the match.
“Jake and the defense did an outstanding job of standing tall and not giving in to relentless pressure,” said Union County Head Coach Jeff Bell. “Chapman is a very good team and well coached. It was back and forth throughout the entire game, an all around great match.”
Goals: Michael Cunningham 2, Louis Mercado
Assists: Will Holcombe, David Beavens
Saves: Jake Benfield 15
Record: 1-3 (1-0 Region III-AAA)