NASHVILLE, Tenn. – There was a point in early October when the Lipscomb men’s soccer team had to do some serious soul-searching. Over an eleven day stretch beginning Sept. 27, the Bisons lost three consecutive ASUN conference matches by a combined score of 5-1.
However, Lipscomb (8-6) has since reeled off three straight wins, including a 4-2 victory over Evansville on Wednesday evening.
“We hit a stretch where we were in a funk,” junior forward Logan Paynter said. “We were struggling to get things together, but now we’re back on track and starting to roll.”
Freshman forward Ihaia Delaney scored a goal in the first half, and Paynter, Ivan Alvarado and Bennie Harris each found the back of the net in the second half to power the Bisons past the Aces.
“The credit goes to the guys,” coach Charles Morrow said. “They have the mentality of keeping their head down and working hard and the goals will come.”
The Bisons have had their fair share of ups and downs throughout the 2017 season. The graduation of goalkeeper Micah Bledsoe left big shoes to fill in the net, while Lipscomb has been inconsistent on the attacking side of the ball.
Redshirt junior goalie Christopher Zappia has made 56 saves in his first year as a full-time starter, and Morrow said Zappia has continued to show improvement as the season has progressed.
“He’s done well,” Morrow said of the goalkeeper. “I think that there’s been some speed bumps along the way. Down the stretch, he’s made all the saves he needed to make . . . that’s all you can ask for.”
In the attacking third, Lipscomb has outscored its opponents 24-22 but has also been shut out on four occasions. The scoring has been spread to 11 different players and Paynter leads the charge with six tallies.
“We really don’t have anyone that’s going to dominate with physical ability [on offense],” Morrow said. “Everything for us is predicated off ball and player movement. It’s a good attacking group, and they take their chances well.”
The Bisons have three regular season games remaining including showdowns with Kentucky, UAB and ASUN rival Jacksonville. Lipscomb currently sits in fourth place in the ASUN standings.
“It’s nice to be peaking at the right time of the year,” Morrow said. “We hit a little patch there where we lost a couple in a row, and it just happened to be that they were conference games — which hurt us in the standings.”
Lipscomb’s three-game winning streak will face a tough test on Saturday as the Bisons travel to Lexington to take on the Wildcats. Last year’s game with Kentucky went into double overtime and ended in a 1-1 draw.
“I don’t think our guys look at (Kentucky) as a huge game,” Morrow said. “I know it’s a Power 5 school, and it’s a good RPI game, but it’s nothing new to us. We tied them last year and could have won the game.”
Paynter said he believes the Bisons have their swagger back and are ready to make the SEC road trip a successful one.
“We can play with anyone,” he said. “Kentucky’s always a great team. We’ll work hard to try to get a [positive] result on the road.”