FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Men’s Soccer) – For the first time since 1999, Florida Tech opened Sunshine State Conference play with a victory. The 12-year drought was ended in the 102nd minute when the Panthers developed a 3-on-2 breakaway. Gary Ogilvie collected the ball and drilled it past Nova Southeastern’s goalkeeper to give FIT a 4-3 victory in double overtime at NSU Soccer Complex on Saturday.
“It is all about momentum,” head coach Robin Chan said of earning the conference victory. “If you can grind out and find a way to win the close games early in the season, it gives you momentum. Getting three points on the board is important to us because it keeps us moving in the right direction.”
Nova Southeastern (3-2-0, 0-1-0 SSC) took its third lead of the game, 3-2, in the 64th minute. The Sharks’ Sharif Shears found himself with the ball after a through-pass put him behind the FIT goalkeeper for an easy tap-in.
The Panthers (4-0-1, 1-0-0 SSC), like they have all season, continued to battle after falling a goal behind for the third time in the contest. In the 84th minute, FIT’s perseverance paid off.
Redshirt senior Robbie Russell, coming down the right side, sent a high-arching cross into the box. The Sharks’ goalkeeper, backing into his crease, hesitated for a moment and then jumped. The ball snuck over his hands and into the top, left corner of the net to tie the game at 3-3.
In the final minutes of regulation, Panthers’ goalkeeper Brentton Muhammad (3-0) made a brilliant save on a straight-on shot to keep the game tied. Muhammad made his first start since returning from World Cup qualifying action for Antigua and Barbuda.
For the second time in as many games, FIT needed overtime to decide the game. After a scoreless first overtime, the teams prepared for a second extra session.
Two minutes into double overtime, the Panthers set up an attack. FIT formed a 3-on-2 at midfield with Drake Hillman controlling the ball. The players split up with Ogilvie and Ricky Menendez streaking down the sides. Hillman then slipped the ball to Ogilvie coming down the left side. Ogilvie gathered the ball, dribbled a few steps, and blasted it past the Sharks’ keeper to end the game and give FIT a 4-3 victory in double overtime.
“I gave Drake a shout to hold up with the ball as I was making the run around him,” Ogilvie said. “He timed it perfectly and put the ball right in my path. It was easy from there.”
FIT’s first two goals came on perfectly executed corner kicks, both created by Ogilvie.
In the 33rd minute, and the Panthers trailing 1-0, Ogilvie sent in a corner kick from the far side. The ball traveled through the air and found Russell’s head, outreaching a defender at the far post, to tie the game at 1-1.
Ogilvie made a similar play in the 58th minute. With the Panthers behind 2-1, Ogilvie sent in a corner kick from the near side, this time finding TJ Peplinski on the far side. Peplinski, in similar fashion as Russell, headed the ball past the keeper to knot the game at 2-2.
“It was the first conference game of the season and a tough one on the road,” Ogilvie said. “[Nova Southeastern] is a good team. It is great to get the three points. It gives us something to build on for the next couple of weeks.”
Ogilvie finished the game with two assists and the game-winning goal, his second of the season.
Muhammad made nine saves in his return, including five saves in the second half.
“I am very proud of the team’s determination and collective spirit to keep going,” Chan said. “Coming back three times says a lot about where we are as a team.”
The Panthers now hold a 13-8-2 all-time record against Nova Southeastern.
FIT continues its road trip on Wednesday, Sept. 19 when it travels to Eckerd. The Panthers and Tritons will square off at 7:30 p.m.