Coastal uses Bennett’s hot foot to give Camels the boot

For the second consecutive game and the third time this season Ashton Bennett scored a pair of goals as No. 12 Coastal Carolina took a 3-1 decision over Campbell in Big South action on Wednesday evening.

Coastal pushes its record to 10-1-2 overall and 5-0-0 in conference play with the win, while Campbell falls to 7-4-1 and 3-4-0 in conference action.

The Chants are now 19-1 when Bennett scores over the last two seasons. Bennett has now found the net on nine occasions this season with five of those coming in the past three games.

Coastal Carolina lit up the scoreboard for the first time at the Eakes Athletic Complex in the 11th minute of play. A deep Shawn McLaws throw from the right side was initially headed high by Pedro Ribeiro inside the box. The 6-foot-3 Brazilian stayed with the play, heading the second ball down to the foot of Bennett. Bennett turned and launched a high blast over Campbell’s Ethan Hall to the center of the net. The strike was the Big South Preseason Player of the Year’s eighth of the season and fourth in the last three games.

The sides exchanged runs and scoring opportunities over the next 25 minutes with neither able to find the back of the net.

Campbell finally broke through to knot the game at 1-all in the 40th minute. The Fighting Camels’ Isaiah Page dribbled through traffic to the right side of the box before slotting a shot just inside the right post for his first counter of his career. The goal was the first surrendered by the Chants to a conference opponent this season in more than 399 minutes of action. Moreover, the goal was first to get past Coastal’s Federico Bertele in more than 252 minutes of play.

The Chants were unable to net the equalizer before the break, despite having a pair of free kicks in Fighting Camel territory.

The teams played level over the opening 20-plus minutes of the half with the keepers matching each other spectacular save for spectacular save. Coastal’s Bertele twice converted game-changing saves in the half to keep the score tied a 1-1. Bertele’s first was a right-footed stop, followed by a diving tip over the crossbar.

Bennett netted the eventual game-winner at the 73:36 mark of the match. Ribeiro again provided the assist. This time Ribeiro sent a through ball from the top of the box toward the near post. Bennett elevated above Campbell’s Hall to head the ball home.

Junior Justin Portillo added an insurance goal for the Chants in the 80th minute. Portillo beat a defender just inside the 18-yard box and played a chip shot past the keeper who had come off his line to challenge the shot. The goal was Portillo’s third of the season and first since Sept. 7 against Florida Atlantic.

Campbell finished with a slight 14-12 advantage in shots. Coastal held a 6-4 edge in corners.

Coastal continues its two-game road trip at VMI on Saturday. Kickoff from the Keydets’ Patchin Field is set for 2 p.m. Coastal is 14-0 all-time versus VMI after posting a 4-1 victory last season.

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