Patriots blank Nighthawks 2-0 to advance in PBC Tournament

Patriots blank Nighthawks 2-0 to advance in PBC Tournament

FLORENCE, SC – Freshman midfielder Alvaro Zamora scored in the 10th minute and sophomore forward Sidney Warden added an insurance tally in the 51st minute, while junior goalkeeper Maximiliano Rocco posted his school-record 10th shutout of the year as fourth-seeded Francis Marion University blanked fifth-seeded University of North Georgia 2-0, Tuesday night (Nov. 12) in the quarterfinal round of the 2019 Peach Belt Conference Men's Soccer Tournament.

Francis Marion ups its record to 13-4-1, the most wins for the program in 11 seasons.  First-year head coach Luis Rincon's squad advances to face top-seeded and ninth-ranked Young Harris College in Friday's 5 p.m. semifinal at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga. The tournament title match is set for Sunday at 3 p.m., also in Evans.

FMU outshot the Nighthawks 19-7, including a commanding 9-1 edge over the opening 45 minutes.  The Patriots held a slight 4-2 advantage in corner kicks.

Rocco registered four saves, most relatively easy, en route to his 10 shutout breaking the old Patriot mark of nine set by Mike Warn during the 2014 campaign.

UNG ends its season at 6-10-1.  Nighthawk keeper Luis Lepervanche recorded six saves.

The opening score came at 9:29 after Zamora took a lay-off from sophomore Nestor Nunez at midfield, made a long run down the left side of the field, then cut back, and fired a12-yard shot into the netting near the far post.  It was his fifth score of the year.

The Patriots had several opportunities to double the margin before halftime, but came up empty.  Senior midfielder Travis Cooke tried a chip shot over an on-coming Lepervanche in the 20th minute, but the attempt sailed wide right of the open net.  At 26:15, Warden sent a 16-yard blast at the UNG keeper that he was able to push over the crossbar with a two-handed save.

Beginning late in the 39th minute, Warden had back-to-back shot attempts from inside the penalty are, but Lepervanche stopped one and the other was blocked and deflected out for a corner kick.  On the ensuing corner by sophomore Oliver Peters, Cooke's high kick from close range sailed over the crossbar.

Warden finally upped the margin to 2-0 with a pwerful strike from 14 yards out on the right side that bulleted into the upper netting.  Cooke's through ball led to the tally. Warden is now second on the FMU squad with six goals and leads the Patriots with 16 points.

At the 54:52 mark, North Georgia's Andrei Bajura tried to catch Rocco off-balance as he took a quick restart on a free kick from 40 yards out and went for goal, but the attempt flew wide right.  Less than a minute later, Donovan Odier's hard shot from 19 yards sailed over the crossbar.

Cooke looked to add another insurance goal in the 57th minute with a header from the 6-yard box, but Lepervanche was up to the challenge and pushed the ball over the crossbar for a Patriot corner kick.

The Nighthawks had one last serious chance to cut the margin in half, with a free kick from close range in the 76th minute.  Jordan Day took the set piece from 19 yards out on the right side and his shot was on target, but Rocco denied it and the resulting save ended in a Nighthawk corner.

Warden and Cooke each had five shots for the Patriots.


Post-match comments from FMU head coach Luis Rincon


Francis Marion Univ. (13-4-1) def. North Georgia (6-10-1) 2-0
Date: 11/12/19      Attendance: 47
Weather: Cloudy, 39 degrees, Winds N @ 10 mph

Goals by period          1  2  Tot
North Georgia.......     0  0 -  0
Francis Marion Univ.  1  1 -  2

1-0.   9:29 FMU Alvaro Zamora (5) (unassisted) - Lay off from #14 at midfield, #11 with l
2-0.  50:07 FMU Sidney Warden (6) (Travis Cooke) - BLAST from right side 14 yards out into

Shots: North Georgia 7, Francis Marion 19 ; Saves: North Georgia 6 (Luis Lepervanche 6), Francis Marion 4 (Maximiliano Rocco 4)