Georgia Gwinnett College’s Juan Giraldo, a Dacula grad, drives toward the net against Auburn-Montgomery on Wednesday. The Grizzlies won 1-0. (Photo: Grizzly Athletics)
Sophomore Ibrahima Sissoko drilled a goal in the 69th minute to lift the Georgia Gwinnett men’s soccer team to a 1-0 victory over No. 16 Auburn-Montgomery on Wednesday afternoon in Montgomery, Ala., giving GGC its first win over a ranked opponent.
Freshman goalkeeper Lewis Sharpe made three big saves, including one on a point-blank attack in the closing minutes to keep the Warhawks off the board in the defensive battle.
The Grizzlies (4-2) dropped AUM, the preseason No. 5 team in the nation, to 2-4 and avenged last season’s one-goal loss.
On Tuesday, GGC received national votes for the first time in program history, garnering five points in the first midseason NAIA coaches’ poll.
“This was a huge victory today for our confidence,” Grizzlies head coach Steve DeCou said. “Especially coming off of a loss our last time out, this really was a total team effort.”
The Grizzlies weathered a strong AUM attack during a first half that featured eight Warhawks corner kicks.
Junior Patrick DaCosta saved a goal early by clearing a ball off the end line 10 minutes into the game on an AUM attack.
The Grizzlies responded with a couple of chances of their own, but could not produce shots on target.
A GGC strike was stopped by a kick save just minutes before halftime by keeper Vignir Johannesson as the game went scoreless into the break.
The Grizzlies moved the ball well coming out of halftime and generated scoring chances with David Burke and Juan Giraldo up front. The defense also held AUM to fewer looks offensively as GGC controlled possession.
The game remained 0-0 through nearly 70 minutes when GGC capitalized due to heavy pressure.
Burke pressed the Warhawks into a turnover just over midfield and two passes later, Sissoko moved in on a breakaway, firing a rocket past Johannesson with just over 21 minutes remaining in the game. German Rodriguez picked up the assist, his first of the year.
“We’d been working with Ibrahima in practice to shoot when he gets the looks,” DeCou said. “When he lets it go, he can really give it a ride and it was a great strike.”
Sissoko was turned away on another breakaway with seven minutes remaining by AUM defender Niklas Hunold after Johannesson had been beaten with the Grizzlies looking for a second score.
In the closing minutes, AUM striker Elvir Sigurdsson got loose deep inside the GGC box and Sharpe came up with the biggest save of the game on the near post to keep it 1-0.
The Grizzlies ran off the final minutes to secure their first true road win of the season. GGC finished with a 12-10 shot advantage in the game, thanks to a nine-shot barrage in the second half.
The Grizzlies wrap up their four-game road swing by visiting 24th-ranked SCAD Savannah Friday evening outside Savannah.