Sept. 26, 2009

Courtesy of Stetson

Jacksonville, Fla. - The Stetson men's soccer team scored a big win over the College of Charleston Friday evening in the opening game of the JU/Nike Classic in Jacksonville. Coming into the game the Cougars (6-2-0) were ranked at #6 in the South Region, one spot ahead of the Hatters who were at #7 for the second week in a row. Nationally Charleston is ranked just outside the Top-25 in the 26th position. It was Stetson’s first-ever win over the Cougars (1-2-0).

Just over fifteen minutes into the game Griffin Gilstrap (Safety Harbor, Fla.) opened the scoring with his team-leading fourth goal of the season. Fellow senior Kevin Munz (Jupiter, Fla.) made a nice cut to the inside and played a through ball to Gilstrap who broke in alone and finished to the left side.

Three more goals were scored in the first half and unfortunately for Stetson, all three were by the College of Charleston. The first C of C goal on the night broke a shutout streak of just under 314 minutes by Stetson goalkeeper Logan Potter (Merritt Island, Fla.).

Although down 3-1 at the break, the Hatters were never out and began their first comeback of the night 20 minutes into the second half. In the 65th minute it was Munz’s turn. Gonzalo de Mujica (Weston, Fla.) slipped a through ball past the defenders and Munz finished to the near post to make the score 3-2.

Three minutes later the game was tied 3-3 after freshman Jonathan Mendoza (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) picked up his second assist of the season with a nifty pass to de Mujica.

The teams played even until the Cougars’ Steven Nagy found the net with just under a minute and a half remaining in regulation. While some teams would have fell back and packed it in, Stetson showed tremendous confidence and pressed forward with everything it had including defenders Dan Sackman (Hampshire, England), Ryan Corning (Ponte Vedra, Fla.) and Robert Hodge (Devon, England).   

The relentless pressure paid off when Hodge scored the tying goal, unassisted, with just 48 seconds remaining.

“Our guys went up to the front of the line and gave it all they had”, said Stetson head Coach T. Logan Fleck. “I am really happy with how we came together and played as a team.”

The teams played through the first 10-minute overtime period scoreless with C of C holding a 3-1 advantage in shots. Potter kept Stetson in the game by turning one of those shots away.

4 minutes and 43 seconds into the second overtime the game ended unceremoniously when a cross by Fredrik Brustad (Oslo, Norway) was headed by a Cougar into his own goal. Once again the tremendous forward pressure by the Hatters paid off. Stetson improved to a perfect 6-0-0 on the season.

Sunday Stetson will attempt to win its second tournament championship in as many weeks when it takes on Alabama A&M for the JU/Nike Invitational title. The Bulldogs (2-7-0) defeated Jacksonville 2-1 in the night’s second game. Stetson is 2-1-1 all-time vs. Alabama A&M with the last game being played in 2000.