BUIES CREEK — For the second time in three years, Campbell completed a Big South Conference Championship double on its home field Sunday when the Camels defeated High Point 3-2 at the Eakes Complex.
Kemy Amiche, Bissafi Dotte and Adrian Morales scored first-half goals for the 30th-ranked Camels (15-3-2), who extended their unbeaten streak to 10 matches (9-0-1) and won the league tournament title for the third time in four years.
In a rematch of the 2019 final, the top-seeded Camels never trailed, but High Point equalized twice. Morales’ strike with 50 seconds left in the opening half proved to be the game-winner.
Campbell won its seventh Big South tourney title – two more than any other current Big South member – and third in the last four seasons. The Camels will discover their destination for the NCAA College Cup Monday at 1 p.m. when the selection show will air on NCAA.com.
“It was a crazy game, not really our best stuff, but credit to High Point they were a worthy opponent,” said Campbell head coach Dustin Fonder. “We don’t have the bodies we had at the start of the year, but we were scrappy and up for a final.”
Senior midfielder George Bediko, who has been a part of five Big South trophy winners since 2018, was named tournament MVP and joined on the all-championship team by Amiche, Dotte and Daniel Hernandez. In CU’s 7-0 win over Winthrop in the semifinal round, Hernandez scored three times, while Amiche provided a goal and three assists.
Midfielder Kyoji Hata, who was making his second-straight start in place of injured Big South offensive player of the year Tyler Young, went down with a hamstring injury in the eighth minute. Right back Franck Momo, the preseason Big South defensive player of the year, left after 53 minutes with a leg injury.
An 88th minute save by Edu Rodriguez on Sebastian Chalbaud’s header that was headed for the right post proved the lead and the Camels cleared the resulting corner kick.
“We had championship composure,” said Fonder. “We made a mistake and gave a goal, but we answered back. We made another mistake and gave up a goal, but answered again. Championship mentality is what drove us today because our quality wasn’t there, but that mentality is what carried us through.”
Two weekends after the league’s top two teams played to a scoreless draw in High Point, the Camels and Panthers combined for five goals in the opening 45 minutes.
Amiche gave Campbell an early lead when he collected a loose ball at the top of the High Point area and lobbed a shot over keeper Holden Trent for his seventh goal of the year.
High Point (8-7-3) answered just over eight minutes later on MD Myers’ powerful header off a Mason Marcey free kick. That goal ended a 617-minute shutout streak for Rodriguez, who had not conceded since the first half of a 3-1 win over Longwood on Oct. 13.
In the 35th minute, Jake Morris sent a corner kick into the box that Diego Konincks headed off the right post, but Dotte was in position to slot home his second of the season.
Just 3:20 later, High Point was level again after a scramble in the box. Myers’ shot was cleared, but Alessandro Sobacchi beat the Camels to the ball inside the six-yard box for his first goal of the year.
Morris also figured in what proved to be the game winner. In the final minute of the first half, Morris cut back at the top right edge of the box and squared a pass along the box to Morales, who curled a right-footed shot past a wall of Panther defenders and into the left side of the net.
The Camels finished with a 14-12 edge in shots. Rodriguez made two saves, while Trent had six stops in the High Point nets.
NOTES: The 2021 double marks Campbell’s fourth and fifth Big South trophies in the last four seasons. CU won the Big South tournament in 2018, and the league regular season and tournament in 2019 and 2021. … CU is now 27-1-4 in its last 32 games (regular season and tournament) vs. Big South foes, including a 21-1-2 mark in regular season play over the last three seasons. … Campbell entered the match 2nd in the country in goals per game (2.68) and 3rd in goal differential (+34). … CU has scored multiple goals in 13 of its 20 outings, including a season-high 7 vs. Winthrop (11/10). … CU improved to 7-2-2 in Big South tournament play under seventh-year Coach Dustin Fonder. … Campbell is 7-3 all-time in Big South finals, 2-1 in Big South title games played in Buies Creek. … Under Fonder’s guidance, Campbell now owns a 6-1-1 record in Big South tournament games played in Buies Creek… The second-seeded Panthers finished an unbeaten (5-0-3) in Big South regular season play reached the final for the 3rd-straight year. … Campbell now stands 27-2-4 in its last 33 matches at the Eakes Complex, including a 10-1-1 mark in the 2021 season.
George Bediko, Campbell (MVP)
Kemy Amiche, Campbell
Bissafi Dotte, Campbell
Daniel Hernandez, Campbell
Alessandro Sobacchi, High Point
Mason Marcey, High Point
MD Myers, High Point
William Cardona, Winthrop
Ethan Stevenson, Winthrop
Sebastian Reventlow, Gardner-Webb
Ryan Madondo, Gardner-Webb
Ander Etxaniz, Longwood
(Campbell media services provided the basis for this report)