BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The Birmingham-Southern men's soccer team opened up the 2018 campaign at home with a convincing win over Cal Lutheran on Saturday afternoon, rolling to a 3-0 victory in its first game of the annual BSC Labor Day Classic.
Three different Panthers, including two freshmen, scored in the home debut and three others added the assists.
After senior defender Luke Hambleton (Fort Walton Beach, Fla./Choctawhatchee HS) was shown a straight red card in the third minute, the Panthers were forced to play with 10 men and overcome the disadvantage.
Despite being a man down, BSC continued to pressure the Cal Lutheran defense. Freshman midfielder Brandon Robinson (Harvest, Ala./Sparkman HS) found the back of the net first, slotting his shot past the Kingsmen goalkeeper in the 32nd minute for his first career goal. Junior midfielder Ryan Hepp (Homewood, Ala./Homewood HS) recorded the assist on the play.
The Panthers would take the 1-0 lead into halftime, but two minutes into the second half, a handball call on BSC in the penalty area gave Cal Lutheran an opportunity to level it up from the spot. Alex Cortez took the shot for the Kingsmen but BSC's senior goalkeeper, Galen Curry (Birmingham, Ala./Spain Park HS), dove to his left to get a hand on the ball and deny the visitors.
In the 69th minute, freshman forward Christian Hernandez (Fort Payne, Ala./Fort Payne HS), off a through ball assist from fellow freshman Ryo Elliott (Handa-shi, Japan/Kubaski HS), scored his first career goal to put the Panthers up 2-0.
Sophomore Corby Groark (Huntsville, Ala./Saint Paul John II HS) capped the scoring in the 90th minute with a scorching finish to beat the keeper. Senior midfielder Brother Swagler (Birmingham, Ala./Mountain Brook HS) was credited with the assist.
Birmingham-Southern will return to Preston Goldfarb Field on Sunday, Sept. 2 for its final match of the BSC Labor Day Classic against the University of the Ozarks. Kickoff for the game against the Eagles is set for 1:30 p.m.