BUIES CREEK — George Bediko scored the game’s only goal and Campbell defeated USC Upstate 1-0 Saturday night at the Eakes Complex to claim the league’s regular season title.
The Camels (12-3-1, 7-0-0) won their sixth-straight match and take 21 points into next Saturday’s date at second-place High Point, which has 14 points with two league contests remaining. USC Upstate (3-8-3, 1-3-2) dropped its third-consecutive outing.
“It was a very tough match; we knew it would be,” said Campbell head coach Dustin Fonder. “Upstate’s a good opponent, but I think our group did a good job of keeping its discipline and composure through the full 90. Winning tonight was important because now we play at home in our semifinal match, and if we win that, we play at home in the championship. But we’ve got a lot of regular season left, a lot of growing as a group, and we want to get better each day and better next week against High Point.”
The 2021 regular season title marks Campbell’s fourth Big South trophy in the last four seasons. CU won the Big South tournament in 2018, and the league double in 2019.
Although the Camels entered the match second in the nation in goals per game (2.8), it was the defense that provided the win. Edu Rodriguez made two saves — both in the first half — to record his third shutout of the season.
Jake Morris nearly put the Camels in front in the fifth minute when his 30-yard blast beat Upstate keeper Luca Bulfon, but not the left post.
Rodriguez kept the game scoreless in the 20th when he dove to his left to steer Mario Arrocha’s low liner around the right post for a corner kick.
After 27 minutes, Kemy Amiche cut back in the Upstate area and slid a pass to Bediko, who placed a right-footed shot inside the left post.
Campbell finished with a 17-8 advantage in shots, but did not allow an Upstate attempt on target over the final 45 minutes. The Spartans’ best chance in the final half came in the 80th when Elias Ehlin missed inches wide of the right post.
NOTES: Campbell is unbeaten (7-0-2) in its series with Upstate since the Spartans moved to Division I (and joined the Atlantic Sun Conference in 2007), 3-0-2 since the Spartans joined the Big South in 2018… CU is now 25-1-3 in its last 29 games (regular season and tournament) against Big South foes… Campbell has outscored its 2021 Big South foes 22-4… In their last 31 matches at home, the Camels stand 25-2-4, including an 8-1-1 mark in the 2021 season… Campbell travels to High Point on October 30 for a its league regular season finale (7 p.m.), then closes the regular season November 3 at Omaha before hosting a Big South semifinal November 10.
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)