Men’s Soccer advances to ASUN Championship with win over UNF
By Chase Henry
The FGCU men’s soccer team (9-7-2) advanced to the ASUN Championship game with a 2-1 win over the University of North Florida (6-8-2), in the semifinals Sunday afternoon at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
“Remarkable character by the guys. I thought it was a difficult game, very physical,” said Jesse Cormier, head coach for the FGCU men’s soccer team. “UNF had a simple strategy they were going to stick to, and it was on us to keep our identity. Eventually, we got a break in the second half with a goal.”
FGCU got on the scoreboard early in the game with a long-range goal from Ivan Rosales from an assist by Shak Adams after Adams retrieved the ball from the Ospreys’ defense and found Rosales alone with space in the fifth minute.
North Florida found an equalizer with the next on-target shot, as Miguel DeLeon Jr. found the back of the net after the ball bounced around the FGCU box from a throw-in, in the 12th minute.
The Eagles kept the momentum up for the rest of the first half, as the Eagles produced three more chances and kept the Ospreys from putting another shot on target the rest of the half.
O’Vonte Mullings scored what would end up becoming the match-winning goal for FGCU in the 70th minute when he used the top of his foot to dink his shot to the left of the Osprey goalkeeper after the keeper tried to rush Mullings into a mistake. Ryan Medilah picked up an assist on the play with an over-the-top pass that allowed Mullings to run onto the ball.
The Eagles defense had to step up another level when Ryan Medilah was issued a red card for yellow card accumulation in the 86th minute.
“The red card made things imbalanced where we had to convert the wingers to play deeper and depend on the strength of our aerial ability in the back,” Cormier said. “I thought UNF’s strategy was to launch it into dangerous areas.”
The change in tactics allowed the Eagles to see out the rest of the game without conceding another goal.
With the assist, Shak Adams moves into sole possession of first place in men’s soccer history with 16 assists. Even though Adams now owns this record, he says the team has unfinished business.
“It feels great to know I’ve done it, but it will be better to break a record and win a championship in the same year,” Adams said. “Winning a championship would mean a lot more to me than breaking the assist record.”
Adams and Cormier think the mental aspects of winning a championship will be the most important things to work on for men’s soccer as the team prepares for the upcoming ASUN Championship.
“When it comes to the playoffs, you’re managing the pressure from both sides,” Cormier said. “The most important component is having that unified feel, and I thought everyone was in it.”
“Rest and get our legs back and prepare for hard training,” Adams added. “Coach will increase intensity to match what a championship team is all about —work on the finite things and prepare for the championship game.”
The FGCU men’s soccer team will now travel on the road to take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the ASUN Championship game next Saturday.