FORT MYERS, Fla. – In a battle of the top two teams in the Atlantic Sun standings, the FGCU men’s soccer team used a golden goal from freshman Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./North Broward Prep) in the 93rd minute of overtime and a six-save effort from classmate Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS) to defeat Jacksonville, 2-1, on a muggy Thursday night at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
Jacksonville entered the game as the league’s only unbeaten team in A-Sun action and trailed FGCU 1-0 with three minutes left. The Dolphins forced overtime with a goal from Predrag Ivanovic at the 87:13 mark, but Silva’s goal not only handed JU its first A-Sun lost, but also propelled FGCU into sole possession of first place.
“We started off very slow and I give a lot of credit to Jacksonville for coming out and pressing us early,” said fifth-year head coach Bob Butehorn. “In the second half we came out and played much better. We were able to get an early goal in the period and got the game under control a little better. I was pleased with the effort from not only our freshmen tonight, but also the guys off the bench which gave us quality minutes. We still have another tough opponent to face in UNF on Sunday. I think the guys understand the task at hand and that they have to go out and finish the job.”
With the win, FGCU (9-4-2) clinches a bye through the quarterfinal round of the A-Sun Tournament and needs just a tie at UNF on Sunday to clinch at least a share of its second straight A-Sun regular season title and the No. 1 overall seed in its first postseason appearance. The Green and Blue’s (6-1) 18 points are two better than JU’s (5-1-1) 16 with one game left. Stetson sits in third with 13 points, but has two games remaining, including the finale against JU.
Not to be outdone by the afore mentioned freshmen duo, junior William Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS) had a hand in both goals, finishing the night with three points on a goal and the lead assist on Silva’s game-winner. Morse got the Eagles on the board in the 51st minute with his second goal of the year, while his sixth assist is tied for the team lead and a program single-season record.
Silva’s goal was his fourth of the season, but his third game-winner. The Boca Raton, Fla. product has provided the game-winner in three of FGCU’s six A-Sun victories, scoring the decisive tally in three of the last five games. He is now in a three-way tie for second on the club with 10 points.
Jacksonville supplied the only two solid scoring chances in an evenly played opening 45 minutes that saw most of the action in the midfield. Making his third straight start in goal, Ingham made a pair of diving saves in the 14th and the 37th minute, respectively, to keep the Dolphins off the board.
Ingham’s solid play in net gave the Eagle offense time to find its rhythm as it broke through the stingy JU defense in the 51st minute. Junior Deion Jones’ (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS) free kick shot from 25 yards out was on frame, but blocked to senior Cristian Raudales (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee HS) who also had his shot blocked before Morse pounded home the rebound goal at 50:39.
Sophomore Nick Patterson (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake HS) entered the game in the 67th minute and helped FGCU keep momentum going on offense. Patterson used his speed and athleticism to manufacture three shots, including two on goal, to keep the pressure on JU and keeper Gavin Carlin.
Just three minutes away from securing the win and shutout, FGCU gave up the equalizer in the 88th minute before improving to 2-0-2 in overtime games this season. The Green and Blue are now 8-3-7 all-time in overtime.
FGCU also extended its home A-Sun unbeaten streak to 15 games (14-0-1) as it now turns its attention to the A-Sun season finale on Sunday at UNF. Gametime in Jacksonville is slated for 1 p.m.