By Matthew Osterhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Flagler College Saints (7-4-1, 4-1-0 PBC) lost to the Lander University Bearcats (5-4-1, 2-0-1 PBC) 1-0 on Saturday night, ending the Saints’ six-match winning streak and receiving their first Peach Belt Conference loss.
The Saints outshot the Bearcats 16-9, had more possession and better scoring chances, but could not finish in front of the goal.
The game was tense from the start. Lander, the preseason favorite to win the conference, disrupted Flagler’s possession play early and forced long balls as the teams probed for chances to score.
Less than 15 minutes into the game, Flagler midfielder Johan Bergfeld took a cleat to the knee and was unable to continue. Eoin Cassin came on and played well for the Saints, but Bergfeld’s injury hurt the midfield.
As both teams looked for the breakthrough, Flagler midfielder Pol Berenguer powered through the Lander defense and layed the ball off to freshman forward Joseph Toby. His shot sailed over the goal.
Minutes later, Lander generated a rare quality chance, and scored. Adam Arthur broke through Flagler’s backline and shot toward the far post. Flagler goalkeeper Matt Gilman made a good save, but the rebound was smashed by Aaron Brittain.
Flagler had a second great chance before halftime, but Lander goalkeeper Matthew Atkinson stopped a shot in front of the goal.
After halftime, the Saints came out with aggression and purpose. Lander started to sit back in defense, allowing Flagler to dictate play and control the ball.
The Saints almost tied the game with 42 minutes left. A floating ball fell in front of forward Eammon Murphy. Atkinson blocked his sliding shot.
Flagler continued to pressure Landon’s goal. Forward Mack Hough sent an open header over the bar with 14 minutes left, setting the stage for a desperate period of attack.
Flagler sent everyone forward in the waning minutes and crowded the penalty box on every opportunity. However, Atkinson turned aside every shot Flagler took, ensuring the victory.
Saints Head Coach John Lynch, frustrated with the result and feeling his team deserved better, said, “In all honesty, they’ve had one chance in the game . . . they’ve put it away . . . We’ve dominated the game.”
Lynch looks for a bit more attacking composure moving forward, but gave credit to Atkinson’s goalkeeping performance and the Lander team.
Saints Captain Pol Berenguer felt his team gave everything they had and will be fine in the coming games.
“I think we played a pretty decent game,” he said. “We got our chances. They didn’t go our way today, but I’m sure they will go our way next time.”