By Doug Gorman
It took a half for the No.-8 ranked Clayton State men's soccer team to get on track, but in the end, the Lakers escaped with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory against Georgia Southwestern.
The Lakers had their chances early, missing on a couple of headers to keep the game scoreless at the end of the first half.
Clayton State (12-2) outshot the Hurricanes 10-1 in the first half, but never could put the ball in the back of the net.
"We came out pretty decent then we struggled the rest of the half," CSU coach Pete Peterson said. "It was 0-0, and it was like we put kerosene on the fire. A team like Georgia Southwestern stays organized and stays compact and they will sit back and draw you in and every two minutes or they will shoot out a jab and that's what happened."
The Lakers spotted Georgia Southwestern the first goal of the game when the Hurricanes lit up their half of the scoreboard just six minutes into the second half, forcing CSU to rally. Clinton Hawkins gave the visitors from Americus the lead when he took a pass from Sean Howard and blasted the ball past Lakers keeper Brian Gracie for the 1-0 goal lead.
Clayton State then got two goals from Ryan Pugh to seal the win.
Pugh, who leads the Peach Belt Conference in goals with 11, tied the game at 1-all with a header in front of the net on a pass from Kevin Rodriguez.
Pugh struck again about 12 minutes later when he scored from the left side of the penalty box on an assist from Matty Phillips and Jonathan McKerever.
"It definitely was huge," Pugh said. "It helped us keep the momentum going. A lot of teams are going to play us tough because of our high ranking, that's just the way it is."
Lady Lakers roll to victory
The Clayton State Lady Lakers picked up a goal in each half and moved their record to 5-9 with a 2-0 victory against Georgia Southwestern.
Cherie Sayon gave the Lady Lakers a 1-0 lead in the first half when she followed up a corner kick. Caitlin Clark and Natalia Valentine assisted on the play.
A few minutes later Sayon, who has scored 12 goals this season, went out with an ankle injury, but she returned for the second half.
Late in the second half, Valentine blasted two shots off the post before finally scoring the final goal at the 83:45 mark of the game.
The Lady Lakers outshot Georgia Southwestern 17-6 and keeper Stefania Cola made two saves in the shutout for CSU.
"The best part of the game was the girls needed a confidence booster, so I am glad we won and were able exhibit the plans we had for the game," CSU women's coach T.O.Totty said.