uc soccer

University of Charleston players celebrate after scoring their second goal early in the second half against Gannon in the NCAA Division II Region 1 soccer semifinal match Thursday in Erie, Pa.

In a battle of two of the best defenses in NCAA Division II men’s soccer, the University of Charleston proved its defense was better.

The Golden Eagles pitched their 15th shutout of the season, a 3-0 win over Gannon in the national round of 16 Thursday in Erie, Pennsylvania. UC (19-2-1) has not allowed a goal in its last five matches and has not yet been scored upon in the postseason.

UC will face Franklin Pierce, which beat Post 2-1 in double overtime in the other round-of-16 game Thursday at Gannon, for a spot in the Division II national semifinals. Charleston has made it at least that far in four of the previous five seasons.

The Golden Eagles didn’t reach the national quarterfinals last year, but in the prior four, they played in three national title matches, winning one, and reached another semifinal.

Charleston and Franklin Pierce square off at 2 p.m. Saturday in Erie.

The Golden Eagles dispatched the Golden Knights with an offense equally as potent as their defense. UC entered Thursday ranked second in Division II in goals scored per match and didn’t disappoint against Gannon.

The first goal of the match came in the 34th minute. Adam Burchell, at the top of the goal box, found Ettore Ballestracci in the bottom right corner for a one-touch goal. Gannon held Charleston scoreless for the rest of the first half, but weren’t so lucky in the second.

Ballestracci found the back of the net again in the 47th minute taking another pass from Burchell and burying it low and to the left for a 2-0 lead. Then, with less than 3 minutes left to play, Christopher Allan scored off a Christos Charalambous pass for the final margin.

UC keeper Alvaro Dean faced some pressure from Gannon’s offense but turned everything away. Dean stopped all seven shots on goal the Golden Knights took.