By Matthew Osterhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Flagler College men’s soccer team is finding their form.
With a convincing 2-1 home victory over Peach Belt Conference foe Montevallo, they have abandoned their early season misfortunes.
Playing in their first NCAA Division II conference match, the Flagler Saints (1-2-1, 1-0-0 PBC) knew they had a tough test against the University of Montevallo Falcons (3-2-0, 0-1-0 PBC).
Head Coach John Lynch understands the importance of the season’s first win. “[There has] probably never been a more important one in my career,” he said.
A steady rain had little effect on either team. The match was fast and physical from the start. The teams combined to take 40 shots, commit 41 fouls and receive 10 cards. Both teams enjoyed possession and crisp passing at different times.
The Saints created the first real scoring chance on a counterattack through the heart of the Falcons midfield. Sophomore striker Hough Mack received a ball just outside the 18-yard box and sent a driven shot across the face of goal, missing by a few feet.
The breakthrough came with 13 minutes remaining in the first half. Saint’s defender Ryan Endrizzi received the ball 40 yards from the goal. His driven cross was perfectly weighted allowing, Mack to run onto it and direct it with his head at the back post.
“It’s something we worked on,” Mack said. “Last year we scored a couple goals — me and Ryan Endrizzi — just like that. We link up very well and it was a great ball; it worked out well for us.”
A pivotal play in the game came just minutes later when Montevallo midfielder Phil Jackson was sent off for a challenge. He slid into a Flagler player from behind with studs exposed, drawing a red card.
Falcons striker Will Cameron responded by beating Saints defender Cameron Will and moving toward the goal. Cameron hauled him down — penalty kick; goal.
The decisive moment came with 17 minutes left in the game.
The Saints’ Toby Joseph sent a floating cross from the right side, which found its way over the defense. Senior Steven Carothers headed the ball past Falcon’s goalie Robert Mueller into the far netting.
“The ball just laid there for me; I was wide open,” Mueller said. “It was real easy from there.”
The defense did the rest. Flagler allowed 15 shots, but most of them were not dangerous to Matt Gilman’s goal. The Saints goalkeeper was well-positioned and made a few big saves, anchoring the backline and ensuring a victory.
“You can see the relief on the lads,” Lynch said. “It was a huge win for us.”