Florida Southern shocks No. 5 Rollins
Loss ends Tars’ chances of winning conference championship
LAKELAND, Fla. -- If Florida Southern’s senior class had written a script for its swan song on Thursday, then the 2011 season finale went pretty much according to plan.
From Logan Albritton's stunning start, and a game-changing play by J.D. Ruiz, all the way through to a thunderous finish by Adam Hansjons, this one had everything they wanted. Throw in a goal by co-captain David Fletcher and one more record for Zach Hofstetter, and the Moccasins put it all together for a 4-1 win against No. 5 Rollins, ending the Tars' chance at an SSC title.
“I’m extremely proud of the character shown by this team,” Moccasin head coach Hugh Seyfarth said. “We lost a tough game to Barry on Saturday and got knocked out of the conference tournament, but we didn’t mail this one in. Hats off to our seniors, who stepped up and led us to this win, and once again showed their respect for FSC soccer and what it stands for.”
Florida Southern (7-7-1, 3-5) hadn’t beaten Rollins (12-3, 5-3) in back-to-back seasons since 1964-65, and by doing so this time, the Moccasins also beat a national top-five team for the first time since 2000. That year they knocked off third-ranked South Carolina-Spartanburg and top-ranked Barry, both on the road. This one may not have gone down to the final minute as those did, but it was every bit as sweet for the eight Florida Southern seniors who were playing their final game. Three of them ended up scoring, and there’s no telling how it might have turned out if not for the quick reaction of Ruiz on defense, yet another of the Moccasin seniors.
Albritton was a late addition to the starting lineup as a midfielder after he’d been starting most of the year as a defender. It was a fateful move as the senior from nearby Auburndale scored just 3:26 into the contest, working a give-and-go with Hofstetter at the top of the box. Albritton broke cleanly into the box and slotted his shot past goalkeeper Keneil Baker for his second goal of the year. That play also gave Hofstetter his 10th assist and made him the first player in team history with double-digit goals and assists in the same season. Neither of them were finished either, but it was enough to give the Mocs a 1-0 lead at halftime.
The second half started with Ashley Holmes and Ryan Arndt blocking shots inside the box, but it was Ruiz who made the biggest play for the Florida Southern defense. After Marten Mueller had broken free for another shot inside of 18 yards, the Mocs’ senior left back somehow headed the ball away from the net, preventing what would have been the game-tying goal.
The heart-stopping save by Ruiz seemed to energize the Mocs, who ended up pushing down the left flank on a counter-attack. When Viktor Bakkioui reached the inside of the 18-yard box, he sent the ball across to the far post where Fletcher hit a one-touch rocket into the net for a 2-0 Florida Southern lead with 33:31 remaining.
In the 67th minute, it was Fletcher who got the Mocs started en route to their third goal of the night. Getting the ball forward to Albritton in the middle, the Mocs were off and running, with Gustaf Ytterbom driving into the Rollins defense from the right. His pass into the box set up Hofstetter’s 17th goal of the season and a 3-0 lead.
Rollins got on the board in the 78th minute when Alex Bisbee headed a cross from Ryan Maleknia into the net, but Florida Southern regained its three-goal advantage just two minutes later. It was a brilliant cross again by Ytterbom that created the goal, hitting Hansjons on the run all the way across the box, leading to a blast by Hansjons who scored the first goal of his career. It was the second time in the past three conference games Ytterbom notched two assists, and it was the sixth assist in the last six games overall for the freshman midfielder.
Florida Southern made it through the final 10 minutes with its 4-1 advantage, though Rollins outshot the Mocs 20-10 in the match. Sophomore goalkeeper Andres Guzman played perhaps his best game of the season, however, making seven saves and either smothering, or grabbing cross after cross played into the box by the Rollins attackers. The Tars also had 12 corner kicks, but with Guzman and Holmes controlling the air, none of them turned into goals.
“We worked a very good week of training, and worked hard on keeping Rollins outside,” Seyfarth said. “We also worked a lot on balls whipped into the box and having our defenders head them out, and we were able to bring all of that training into the game.”
The Moccasins had beaten Rollins last year in Winter Park 3-1 before the Tars went on to finish as the Division II national runner-up. This year they’ve been ranked even higher, hitting No. 1 earlier in the season, before coming into Thursday’s match at No. 5. They’d allowed just eight goals all season prior to Thursday, and were trying to earn a share of their third consecutive Sunshine State Conference title. The Mocs kept that from happening, giving the title outright to Lynn, and forcing Rollins into a first-round game in the SSC Tournament against Eckerd instead.
The four goals were the most Florida Southern has ever scored against Rollins in 67 all-time meetings, and it got the Mocs their first win at home over the Tars since a 1-0 decision in 2001.