What you need to know
*GSU defeated rival Georgia Southern 4-2 in the SBC Tournament Finals
*Hannes Burmeister led the Panthers with a hat trick
*The conference title was Georgia State’s first since 2000
STATESBORO, Ga. – Fourth time’s the charm.
After three consecutive years of heart break in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament Championship match, Georgia State men’s soccer broke through to capture its first ever Sun Belt title, as three goals from Hannes Burmeister lifted GSU to a 4-2 victory over rival Georgia Southern Sunday afternoon at Eagle Field.
The win gave GSU (11-6-2) its first NCAA Tournament berth since the team made the postseason as an at-large bid in 2011 and its first conference tournament championship since the Panthers won the Trans America Athletic Conference (now ASUN Conference) in 2000.
“I think the biggest thing about this game was the adversity and how we responded to it,” GSU head coach and Sun Belt Coach of the Year Brett Surrency said. “To be able to fight back after going down 2-1 to make it 3-2 and then 4-2, it was unbelievable.”
Georgia State got on the board first, as a foul in the box by the Eagles led to a successful penalty kick from Burmeister. The Panthers would take the 1-0 lead into the break, as the two squads headed to halftime with two shots on target apiece.
Georgia Southern battled back, netting the equalizer in the 66th minute from Co-Player and Co-Offensive Player of the Year Javier Carbonell. It was the senior forward’s 15th goal of the season. The Eagles later added to their lead in the 72nd minute, getting a goal from Aldair Cortes.
Another Georgia Southern foul in the box gave Burmeister an opportunity to tie the game with 15 minutes to play, and the senior midfielder took full advantage of the opportunity, burying the PK in the back of the net. As the clock continued to shrink, the match seemed headed for overtime. Burmeister and company had other plans.
The GSU attack continued to stay aggressive late in the second half and broke through with the go-ahead goal with eight minutes remaining. Max Hemmings played a chip into the box that connected with Burmeister, who notched his third goal of the day. Burmeister entered Sunday without a goal scored in the 2018 season, but his hat trick improved his career total to 26 and bumped him into ninth place on the GSU all-time career goals list.
“I said in the beginning of the season as long as we were successful as a team and we find a way to win this championship I didn’t care how many goals I had,” Burmeister said. “And for it to actually happen – I’m just as happy as I could be.”
In desperation mode, the Eagles brought their keeper into the attacking third of the pitch in the final 30 seconds, which instead resulted in a fourth goal for the Panthers. Frank Rosenwald led in a counter attack with roughly 15 seconds to go, sinking Georgia State’s fourth goal on an empty net and sealing the victory.
GSU ended the afternoon with a 19-15 advantage in total shots and 8-6 in shots on goal. The Panthers’ four goals were the third-most in a SBC Tournament final in conference history.
Four different Panthers earned 2018 Sun Belt Championship All-Tournament honors, headlined by Burmeister as Most Outstanding Player. Joining Burmeister was Liam Fitzsimmons, Hemmings and Rosenwald.
Sunday’s victory also gave GSU two points in the Georgia State-Georgia Southern Rivalry Series, which the Panthers now lead by a score of 4-2.
Georgia State will learn its first-round opponent in the NCAA Tournament on the NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Selection Show on Monday at 1 p.m. ET on NCAA.com.
Follow along with Georgia State on Twitter (@GSUMensSoccer) for the latest news and updates.
2018 Men's Soccer Championship Schedule
Thursday, November 8 (Quarterfinals)
Match 1 - #4 Coastal Carolina 2, #5 Howard 1
Friday, November 9 (Semifinals)
Match 2 – 4 p.m. – #1 Georgia State 2, #4 Coastal Carolina 1
Match 3 – 7 p.m. – #2 Georgia Southern 3, #3 Appalachian State 0
Sunday, November 11 (Championship Match)
Match 4 - 1 p.m. – #1 Georgia State 4, #2 Georgia Southern 2