SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo men’s soccer team (3-6, 0-3 SSC) fell in overtime to the Florida Tech Panthers (6-5, 1-3 SSC) 2-1 in Sunshine State Conference play, Saturday evening from University Field.
After a scoreless first half, Leonardo Nogueira opened the scoring for the Green & Gold in the 69th minute, blasting his second goal of the 2009 season into the back of the net. SLU continued to pepper the Panther’s goal keeper but remained up to the challenge, making six saves on 24 shots. The inability to finish on the offensive end allowed Florida Tech to stay within striking distance late in the game. Eventually, the persistent FIT offense broke through in the 87th minute to tie the game at one a piece; eventually forcing overtime. Florida Tech wasted little time in scoring as Stanley Abada connected on the golden-goal shot, securing the 2-1 win for Florida Tech just 59 seconds into the first overtime.
The Lions wasted no time in forcing their offensive game plan, penetrating the Panthers defense on multiple occasions in the first half. During their thirteen-shot first period barrage, the Lions forced Panther ‘keeper Derrick Hackett into making three outstanding saves. Despite the advantage in shots taken, Saint Leo could not penetrate the net as the game remained scoreless heading into halftime.
The break came at the right time for the Panthers as they came out more focused and energized on both ends. The two teams exchanged scoring opportunities the first 23 minutes of the half with each team nearly missing go-ahead goals. But, Nogueira had other plans in the 69th minute as he and forward Jonathan Glenn connected to give Saint Leo the advantage it had been looking for. Glenn drove hard through the box making one defender miss and forcing the ‘keeper out of his net. At the same time, Nogueira charged in from the right side, received a flick pass from Glenn and snuck home the first goal of the match.
Despite the Lions advantage and a strong SLU defense, the Panthers continued to chip away and eventually found a seam in the 87th minute when Timothy McRae converted on a chance to equalize the game with less than four minutes to play. The goal deflated the Lions brass momentarily but regained its fire with a near miss towards the end of regulation.
However, just 59 seconds into the first overtime period a Saint Leo foul awarded Florida Tech a free kick. Despite the spot of the kick being disputed, the ball was lobbed in from just inside the Saint Leo half of the field. The ball bounced into the box where Abada eventually corralled and fired it past Erik Mozzo for the game-winner.
The loss negated a tremendous effort by the Saint Leo backline and goal keeper Mozzo (3-6), who made four saves on the evening on 15 shots.
SLU dominated in shots, ending the contest with a 24-15 advantage , while both teams closed the evening with five corner kicks and committing 13 fouls apiece.
Saint Leo returns to action on Tuesday, October 6 in a non-conference duel with Thomas University. Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. at University Field.