It’s that time of year again. The infamous Georgia State and Georgia Southern rivalry is already well-known, but for the GS men's soccer team, this year is different.
"We’re looking forward to coming up and playing an excellent team that obviously is having another fantastic season," Head Coach John Murphy said. "It should be a great game to watch."
In the Sun Belt Tournament last season, GS and GSU met on Eagle Field. It was an exciting game for fans but a disappointing loss for the men’s soccer team.
The game was the first time that both teams had come this far in the conference, and the Panthers took the lead in the first half.
The game came down to the wire and in the last fifteen minutes of play, GS scored two goals to take the lead. A Panther penalty kick during minute 75 tied the game and two more unanswered goals gave them the conference champion title.
There are two Eagles from last season’s All-Tournament team on this year’s roster, with junior midfielder Aldair Cortes and sophomore defender Gonzalo Talavera.
At the time, Head Coach John Murphy praised the team for even making it to the Championship game because the team was so young.
"We don't make excuses, but we have the youngest team in the league," he said. "We've been regularly starting seven to eight freshmen and sophomores every game... It's tough to lose to them on our home field, but the future is very bright for our program right now, we're going to continue to move forward."
Now, the team is ready for revenge. GS holds a 5-5-1 record walking into GSU’s home, and have been working on staying consistent.
GSU is 6-1-3 and undefeated at home. Junior forward Aris Briggs leads the Panthers with nine goals and 25 shots. The team returns the majority of the same roster from last season, and has outscored their opponents in the second half.
Starting redshirt junior goalkeeper Paul Tyson has notched 30 saves so far this season.
GSU leads the overall record 4-2 against GS, and is coming off of a loss on Tuesday at Lipscomb. GS played USC on Tuesday, which resulted in a draw.
Murphy believes that the draw forced the team to grow and prepare for what will be a tough game.
“You don’t need a reason to get up for that game,” he said. “The fact that we played them in the final last year just adds to it. These are the games you want to play in as a player and these are the games you want to coach in as a coach.”
The game will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Atlanta.