BOCA RATON, Fla. (Men’s Soccer) – No. 4 Lynn scored the game’s first goal in the 72nd minute, less than a minute after a Florida Tech red card. With a man down, the Panthers rallied to score goals in the 77th and 85th minutes to upset the Fighting Knights for the first time since 1994.
“We are very proud of the way the boys performed today,” head coach Robin Chan said. “They supported each other and fought for each other especially when the challenged increased.
“We are at the end of the regular season now and there is no better way to move into the postseason than with this sort of performance. It keeps our positive momentum flowing into the conference tournament.”
Saturday’s game, which was played at Florida Atlantic University Soccer Field, saw a total of eight cautions and one ejection. Unfortunately for Florida Tech (10-3-3), that ejection put them down a man in the 71st minute of play. The contest was even up to the red card with both teams recording six shots.
Less than a minute later, Lynn (14-3) ended the scoring drought. Michael Kutscher picked the perfect time to score his first goal of the season. Kutscher gave the Fighting Knights a 1-0 lead with a shot from the right side.
With less than 20 minutes remaining in the match and a man down, the Panthers had plenty of fight left in them.
The game’s next shot came in the 77th minute. And it came off the foot of a Panther.
Sophomore Yannis Pele controlled the ball at the endline to the right side of the Lynn keeper. Pele crossed the ball into the six-yard box to find Drake Hillman with an open net in front of him. Hillman tapped it home for a team-leading seventh goal of the season and to tie the game at 1-1.
Fourteen days ago, FIT knotted the game with Lynn, 1-1, in a conference match at Rick Stottler Field. In the first meeting, the game-tying goal by Gary Ogilvie came in the 72nd minute, but the Fighting Knights answered with two goals in a span of three minutes to escape with a 3-1 victory.
The Panthers had a different story in mind on Saturday. And in the 85th minute, it was written to perfection.
There was a scrum for the ball in front of the Lynn keeper with five minute remaining and the game tied at 1-1. The ball, bouncing around, finally came free.
Sophomore Antoine Aupiais found the loose ball and tipped it past the Fighting Knights’ keeper to give FIT a 2-1 lead. Aupiais, now with six goals on the season, has scored three goals in the last four matches.
Lynn had one opportunity to tie the game in the 88th minute, but Kerst Lehman’s header went wide left. The Panthers then took control for the final two minutes, firing one more shot on goal.
The final seconds ticked off the clock to give FIT its first victory over Lynn in 18 years, ending a 16-game skid against the Fighting Knights. The Panthers last defeated the Fighting Knights on Oct. 1, 1994 at what was then Varsity Soccer Field in Melbourne by a score of 4-3 under legendary head coach Rick Stottler.
In doing so, FIT recorded its 10th win of the season, one more than it finished with a season ago.
The Panthers will now prepare for the Sunshine State Conference Tournament. They will travel to either Rollins or Eckerd on Tuesday, Oct. 30 for a quarterfinal match. If Saint Leo defeats Nova Southeastern on Saturday, then FIT will travel to Rollins. If Nova Southeastern defeats Saint Leo, then the Panthers will travel to Eckerd. Saint Leo and Nova Southeastern square off at 7:30 p.m.