SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s soccer team could find no answers on Friday evening as they found themselves on the wrong end of a 3-1 final score at the hands of the Palm Beach Atlantic Sailfish from a damp and rainy University Field.
The Lions came out flat in the first half and PBA made them pay in the 15th minute as Kyle Crouse slipped in behind the Saint Leo defenders and launched a ball across the face of the goal, past a diving Eric Mozzo, that caught inside the far post for the first tally of the match.
After a back-and-forth battle in a steady rain for the remainder of the half, and with both teams preparing for the break, the visiting Sailfish managed to strike again. With less than half a minute remaining until the intermission, the Sailfish punched a free-kick into the 18-yard box that was deflected around before falling at the feet of Crouse, who then blistered a shot into the net to put PBA up 2-0 heading into the lockers.
A different approach by SLU in the second half was met by the same results as the visitors from West Palm Beach stifled numerous Saint Leo attacks, including a golden opportunity that saw the Lions blast three straight shots toward goal, with PBA keeper Joe Yurchak making tremendous saves to keep the game scoreless.
A direct free-kick in the 63rd minute registered another goal for PBA as Johnathon Clark set up 20 yards out and struck a ball that carried over Mozzo.
A sense of urgency struck the Lions in the final 15 minutes which was furthered by a beautiful header goal in the 80th minute from substitute Ruud Van Der Sar, as he redirected a Bruce Cutler corner-kick into the net to halt the shut out. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late for the Lions as PBA spread the ball around for the remaining time and ran out the clock.
Despite picking up the loss, Mozzo had a decent performance in goal as he stopped some great chances by the visitors. He would finish the evening making five saves and facing a total of 13 shots.
Yurchak had a stellar evening in net for PBA, stopping seven shots toward goal and surrendering the lone score.
In the loss the Lions outshot the visitors 14-to-13 and posted more corners, with a 10-to-3 advantage, but also had the dubious honor of having more fouls than PBA at 13-to-11.
Saint Leo will have almost a week to recover before they look to rebound when they host Flagler College on Wednesday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. at University Field on the Saint Leo campus.