Saints nab first soccer wins

Men’s soccer snaps 14-game losing streak against Thomas University

By Ryan Day |

Flagler midfielder Sean Gormley can’t help but laugh when asked what the first victory of the season means to a Flagler’s men’s soccer team that was on the verge of a 15th straight winless game.

“There are so many games where we’ve played well in the first half and then just let it get away,” Gormley said. “To get up on them [Thomas] and finish the way we did raises everyone’s confidence.”

The Saints have started the 2007 season 0-8-1 and were looking at a potential 10th winless game of the season as they took the field against Thomas University on Oct. 6. They notched the season’s second win Nov. 14 at home with a 2-1 victory over Saint Xavier University of Chicago.

That victory was built on the momentum of their first win against Thomas, when Flagler had two goals in the first 21 minutes.

Flagler midfielder Danny Burke scored in the fifth minute and Sean Gormley scored off an assist by midfielder Conor Killeen in the 21st minute to give Flagler a 2-0 lead. Josiah Holtz tallied six saves in the game and would have had his first shutout of the season if it wasn’t for a meaningless goal by Thomas with nine minutes remaining to make the final score 2-1.

The victory over Thomas University was about more than relief — it was about Saints soccer finding the confidence to turn around a disappointing start.

“It’s huge,” Flagler midfielder Eoin Cassin said. “There were players afraid of getting the ball, of screwing up. But we’ve stuck together and getting the first win of the season is a big weight off our shoulders.”

Why has it taken 10 games to put it all together? When asked the difference between the 9-10 team that finished last season to this year’s 2-8-1 team, players point to a Saints team this year ravaged by injury. The inability to stay healthy makes it difficult to be good on both sides of the ball on a regular basis.

“We’ve had injuries and a very inconsistent lineup due to injury,” Cassin said. “There haven’t been two straight games with the same back four defenders and defense was a strength of ours coming into the season. And it’s the same with midfielders. Danny [Burke] was injured in the preseason and he just now came back for us in the middle of the season.”

“Because of the injuries, either the offense is lacking a starter or the defense is lacking a starter,” said Flagler defender Luke Sturgiss. “It’s frustrating, but the spirit is unbelievable. No one’s packed it in and no one’s given up.”

But no one’s giving the Saints a free pass to be 2-8-1 at the season’s midpoint. “We expected to be on the right side of .500 at this point,” Coach John Lynch said. “Period.”

Flagler’s next home game is against Florida Southern College Tuesday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. at Flagler Field.

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