TAMPA, Fla. – Back-to-back goals separated by just over a minute in the first half proved to be the difference, as the FGCU men’s soccer team dropped the opening game of the USF Tournament, 2-1, against No. 5 UC Irvine on Friday evening.
The Anteaters strung together goals in 26th and 27th-minute, respectively, to take the early lead that was good enough to improve to a perfect 7-0. The loss dips the Eagles to 1-2-2 on the young season heading into Sunday’s tournament finale against Saint Louis at 2 p.m.
“I thought overall that we played well, but they took advantage of a couple of our mistakes and that was the difference,” said head coach Bob Butehorn. “We can take a lot from this game and we need to make sure we do because we have another tough one on Sunday against Saint Louis.”
The pace of play over the opening 25 minutes belonged to FGCU, as it supplied the only two corner kicks and shot over that span.
FGCU’s momentum quickly came to a halt when back-to-back UC Irvine goals over a 1:06 span gave the nation’s fifth-ranked team a 2-0 lead. Senior keeper Adam Glick (Leola, Pa./Conestoga Valley HS) stopped the initial shot on the first goal, but the rebound wasn’t cleared off the line and Christopher Santana poured in the goal. The second goal came off a giveaway in the FGCU end and the Anteaters quickly turned it into a score.
Both of the Green and Blue’s shot on goal came off the foot of senior Francesco DiStefano (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola HS), but both ended up in the hands of UC Irvine goalie Andrew Fontein to keep the score 2-0.
FGCU’s 7-4 shot advantage in the second half finally paid off in the 85th minute when senior Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS) buried a free kick from just outside the left side of the 18 into the far upper right corner to make it 2-1.
The Eagles were able to generate a couple of scoring chances over the final five minutes, but neither resulted in a goal for the 2-1 final.
For the game, the Green and Blue held a 12-9 advantage in shots and manufactured five corner kicks. Glick made four saves in net for the Eagles while his counterpart Fontein did the same. Both goalies are up for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.