In their last home game of the regular season, the No. 22 FGCU Eagles squared off against the FIU Panthers Tuesday, Oct. 20.
Looking to please their fans in the final home outing of the regular season, the Eagles fell short to the Panthers in overtime by a score of 2-1.
In a fast paced first half that saw 12 shots between both teams, the Eagles were able to get out in front thanks to a goal by Albert Ruiz.
The Eagles were tested early as the Panthers pushed numbers forward, and it looked like the Panthers were going to grab an early lead ten minutes into the match. However a save in a one-on-one situation by FGCU Goalkeeper Nathan Ingham kept the match at 0-0.
Twenty-Two minutes later, Skylar Wilks curled the ball around the Panther defense into the box to Justin Gavin where he was taken down by a Panther defender. The referee immediately pointed to the spot, and Albert Ruiz rose to the challenge, slotting the ball in the middle of the net as the goalkeeper dove right. That goal gives Ruiz four goals this season, all coming from the penalty spot and tying the program record for career penalty kick goals.
Thanks to Ruiz’s goal, the Eagles went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. Four minutes into the second half, the Panthers had another chance on goal when Ismael Longo played the ball into the box, which was headed towards goal by Santiago Patino. The ball was met by the right hand of a diving Nathan Ingham, keeping the Eagles ahead 1-0.
Ten minutes later, the Panthers would tie the game at one a piece when Ismael Longo played the ball from a corner kick to the back post of the Eagles’ net to a wide-open Patrick Lopez, who headed the ball in the back of the net.
The rest of the second half gave opportunities on goal for both sides, but neither team was able to break the tie in regulation, sending the game to overtime.
In the fifth minute of overtime, the Panthers Jamar Campion-Hinds floated a ball into the Eagles’ box to Darren Rios, who put in the ball in the back of the net past a confused Eagles side. The Eagles stopped playing because Rios was called offsides by the side official. The head referee eventually overturned the offsides call, giving Rios and the Panthers a 2-1 victory in overtime.
“The referee made a really bad judgment call,” said head coach Bob Butehorn. “I told my guys the only reason they won that game is because everyone thought the play was done. I could have scored that one. It’s a shame the game had to end that way. I’ve never seen a game end like this before. As far as how we go, we just keep moving forward.”
The Eagles will now travel to Spartanburg to play against the USC Upstate Spartans Saturday night in their final Atlantic Sun Conference game of the regular season.