Eagles use three second half goals to claim third straight win
TAMPA, Fla. – Behind three second half goals from its senior class, the FGCU men’s soccer team picked up its third straight win on Saturday with a 3-0 shutout of Conference USA foe South Carolina at the USF Tournament played at Corbett Soccer Stadium.
The Eagles defeated MAAC favorite Iona 2-0 on Thursday to open the tournament and scored all five of their goals on the weekend in the second half. Despite being 33-13-4 in its last 50 games dating back to 2009, FGCU’s three-game non-conference win streak is the first in program history as it improves to 3-2 on the year.
South Carolina (2-2-1), who has played three ranked teams already this season, was coming off a 1-0 win over No. 2 USF on Thursday. The Gamecocks are the fifth straight opponent FGCU has faced to open the year that is ranked in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Tournament 48.
Seniors Jelani Smith (Mississauga, Ontario/Rick Hansen Secondary), William Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS) and Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS/FIU) accounted for all three of the second half goals that came in the 54th, 68th and 86th minute, respectively. Morse has scored in each of FGCU’s three straight wins after registering four goals in his first three seasons.
Not lost is the season-high three goals was the play of sophomore keeper Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS), who made five saves, including three in the second half. The shutout is the second straight for Ingham, while it’s FGCU’s first back-to-back shutouts since the end of the 2010 campaign.
The pace of play changed hands a few times in the first half and resulted in a scoreless opening 45 minutes with the South Carolina producing two of the three shots.
Much like Thursday’s game, FGCU came out of the gates firing in the second half, creating several scoring chances until Smith broke the scoreless tie with his first goal of the season at the 54:14 mark. Smith nearly scored a few minutes earlier on a cross from redshirt sophomore Donovan Henry (Parkland, Fla./Stoneman Douglas HS), but converted his second opportunity on an assist from sophomore Santiago Echeverri (Kissimmee, Fla./Celebration HS).
For the second straight game, the insurance goal came off the foot of Morse, who tucked a left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of the net in the 68th minute to make it 2-0. The play started on a great long ball by senior Deion Jones (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS) to a streaking Henry on the left side of the goal box. Henry was tackled by USC goalie Alex Long with the rebound deflecting to the opportunistic Morse, who finished into the open net.
Playing with a two-goal lead, FGCU nearly gave up a pair of goals when South Carolina hit the far left post and freshman Steven Oliveri (Stuart, Fla./Jensen Beach HS) cleared a ball off the line.
FGCU tacked on a third goal in the 86th minute, as Navas completed a pretty pass from freshman Jourdan Gooden (Fort Myers, Fla./Lake Forrest Academy (IL)) for the 3-0 final.
After playing four of its first five games away from home, FGCU will now host the Courtyard-Marriott Classic on Friday, Sept. 14 and Sunday, Sept. 16. The tournament will open with No. 23 Furman taking on FAU at 5 p.m. while FGCU and VCU will square off a roughly 7:30 p.m. Sunday’s lone matchup will feature FGCU against No. 23 Furman at 2:30 p.m.
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