By Matthew Osterhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
The Flagler College Saints (12-5-1, 7-1-0 PBC) survived a tough test from the North Georgia College & State University Saints (5-10-1, 1-6-1 PBC) to win a dramatic playoff match at Flagler Field.
In the opening moments of overtime, Mack Hough, the team’s leading scorer, received a pass from Will Frandsen and blasted a shot by the North Georgia goalkeeper, giving Flagler a 1-0 win.
“I just turned and saw an open net, and just struck it. Kick ball hard. That’s what I do,” Hough said.
North Georgia played well and gave Flagler, the regular season Peach Belt Conference champions, a real test. They did not look like a team who had just one win and were ranked last in the conference.
Head Coach John Lynch said of the close match, “I just credit North Georgia. They never stopped. I think it was a tough game to play; they are a hard working team. They made it very difficult for us to play football[soccer].”
North Georgia had a glorious chance to go ahead less than 10 minutes into the match. A low cross found Justin Gonzales open in front of the goal. His shot missed completely.
Flagler responded, creating multiple scoring chances, and played an even half with North Georgia. The best opportunity came to Flagler’s Eammon Murphy. His open header at the back post hit the crossbar.
The second half was also competitive, but Flagler created better scoring opportunities and played excellent defense. North Georgia players blocked two Flagler shots off the goal line, and Flagler’s Toby Joseph sent an open header over the crossbar.
Then Hough scored the game winning goal, moments into overtime.
“We felt they would give us as hard a game this season as any team, and we knew we were in a dogfight. I am very pleased and proud that we pulled it out because that was a tough game,” Lynch said.
Captain Eoin Cassin played an important role in defense and believes the team’s backline is performing outstandingly.
“I can’t speak enough of Kevin [Partel], Ryan [Endrizzi], Steve [Carothers], and Adam [Jackson]. They have been the regular back line and Matt [Gilman] has been an inspiration in goal. We can trust him behind us,” Cassin said.
As Flagler prepares for the semifinal match, Lynch feels the tough test from North Georgia will prepare his team for future challenges.
“It is always good to win an overtime game, it gives you some confidence. The games this weekend are going to be tough,” Lynch said.