February and early March brought the rainy season into South Carolina, and with it came Southern Conference accolades and a series of wet road games for Men’s Soccer. A dominating offensive duo in Freshman Jake Raine and Sophomore Shaun-Chris Joash helped secure the ‘Dins first conference win but work to secure their 21st regular season championship title is just beginning.
After a dominating 3-0 season opening win over in-state rival USC, the Paladins traveled confidently to face USC Upstate for non-conference action. A nearly scoreless first half came to an end after Furman’s Sam Miller made a clean cross to the feet of Shaun-Chris Joash for an easy tap into the net. Only six minutes into the second half, Joash would assist Freshman Jake Raine to set up the 2-0 Paladin win. Goalkeeper Ben Hale tallied four saves to secure his second shut-out of the season.
An early March game against Gardner Webb would turn into the Paladin’s first loss of the season. The lopsided game appeared at first to be an equal matchup, with both teams seeing few scoring opportunities. The Running Bulldogs would pull away with a 21-minute, 3-0 run in the opening of the second half to send Furman into Johnson City with a 2-1 record.
Furman’s first conference matchup against ETSU was delayed until last Friday, but it developed into an exciting double overtime win for the Paladins. Raine connected with Freshman Josh Hosie to drive home an early goal for Furman while Hale went to work in the net to limit the Bucs to one late second half goal. After more than 55 minutes and the first overtime period passed without an on-target shot, Furman’s offense managed four strong attempts on goal, the last being Raine’s game winning shot and his second tally of the match.
Raine accounts for four of Furman’s seven goals on the season, making his Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Week title a well-deserved honor. He follows teammates Joash and Hale after their sweep of February’s Southern Conference Men’s Soccer Player of the Month titles.
It is clear that Joash and Raine are the beginnings of a well-oiled offensive powerhouse for the Paladins, one we’ll be sure to follow for a back-and-forth race to the top of the scoring leaderboard. The ‘Dins return to Seagraves field this past Tuesday against Wofford was postponed due to weather concerns, and their now four-game away series will continue against UNCG in Greensboro Saturday night.