Jansen Berry’s goal 89 seconds into the game gave Reinhardt (1-2-1) the early lead, but the third-ranked Hornets (2-0) bounced back with goals by Andres Santos and Emeka Maduka to take the win.
Except for the early Reinhardt goal, it was all Southern Poly as the Hornets spent most of the game in the Eagles’ territory and outshot their opponents 20-5, including 10-1 in the second half.
“We showed a lot of perseverance,” Southern Poly coach Kom Momemi said. “The entire game was in Reinhardt’s end. It was tons of shots. We just couldn’t finish some of those shots. I mean, we had some pretty good looks — a couple of breakaways — but we persevered and did an OK job.”
Reinhardt coach Dan Farnham was proud of his team’s effort against the NAIA power.
“Overall, we battled,” Farnham said. “We knew it was going to be a tough one, an uphill climb. (Southern Poly is) a top-10 team in the country for good reason, so it was nice to get that early goal and make them fight and earn it.”
The start of the game was far from perfect for Southern Poly as Berry scored from short range on an assist by Paul Dudson with to put Reinhardt in front 1-0 in the game’s second minute.
The goal made history of a less than memorable sort for Southern Poly —it was the fastest opponent had scored against the Hornets in the program’s six-year history.
For Momeni, it showed the inexperience of a young defense that features a number of freshmen.
“It was a terrible, terrible start,” he said. “We knew we were very young in the back, and we had three players back there who haven’t played for us before. They’re just learning as they go along. They’re trying to learn their strengths and weaknesses, so it’s a process. It was a terrible goal that we let in.”
It wasn’t long before Southern Poly got back on track as the Hornets began to dominate and maintain possession on Reinhardt’s end of the field.
The Hornets had a number of scoring opportunities fall just short before Santo blasted a shot into the goal on an assist from Adis Islamovic to tie the game at 1-all with 18:01 remaining in the first half.
Southern Poly continued to control the action and put pressure on the Reinhardt defense through the rest of the first half, and early in the second half, but it couldn’t quite get the ball in the goal.
The Hornets finally broke through when Maduka scored on an assist from Juan Henao to give them their margin of victory with 27:08 left in the game.
“I thought we could have kept the ball at times a little bit better and try to put (Southern Poly) under a little bit more pressure,” Farnham said. “We could have pushed out of the back a little quicker at times, but, again, credit to (Southern Poly).”