PULASKI – After working all season to earn a home contest in the postseason, the No. 15 Martin Methodist Men's Soccer team defended its home turf with a dominating 2-0 victory over No. 22 Bryan (Tenn.) in the 2013 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Opening Round at the East Campus Soccer Complex Saturday night.
In a match played in bitter cold and driving wind, the RedHawks (15-3-1) took control of the contest early and never relinquished it as they picked up their first national tournament victory since 2009.
The goal marked Powell's first career tally and ultimately proved to be the game winner in the RedHawks first ever victory over the Lions (15-4).
Holding a 1-0 lead at the half, the RedHawks enjoyed a commanding 13-3 edge on the shot chart, but had just one tally to show for their efforts.
That changed in the second half, however, as the RedHawks pieced together a beautiful buildup to pull ahead by a two-goal margin.
Michael Fulton started the sequence, streaking down the left side of the pitch and lobbing a big switch down the right flank to a darting Sean Dong. Dong then capped the sequence with a picture-perfect cross to Felix Kristofferson, who settled the service and then booted it into the bottom left corner of the net.
The two goals proved to be more than enough for the RedHawks, who outshot the Lions 23-7 and allowed just two shots on target the entire match.
Junior goalkeeper Stephen Lunney made both saves to post his ninth shutout of the season.
The victory marked the first national tournament win for the RedHawks in four years. The win also improved the club to 3-1 all-time in the national tournament and 2-0 in Opening Round games.
The win also marked the ninth consecutive victory for the RedHawks, who enter next month's 2013 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship Second Round as one of the hottest teams in the NAIA.
"This was another solid win for our team," RedHawks head coach Gerry Cleary said. "The lads played well at times, but we still have a lot of work to do. Every single team in Montgomery is a terrific side. We will have to play our best football of the season to make a run."
The RedHawks future opponent and start time will be announced in the coming days for the 2013 NAIA Men's Soccer National Championship, which will be held at the Emory Folmar YMCA Soccer Complex in Montgomery, Ala. Dec. 2-7.
The RedHawks will meet No. 1 seed Grand View (Iowa), which scored two goals in the final six minutes to knock off Bellevue (Neb.) 4-3 in their Opening Round matchup.
Kickoff in the RedHawks second-round matchup has been set for 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 2.
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