Defense Dominates the Night; Moccasins and Tritons Play to 0-0 Tie
ST. PETERSBURG – Considering how few shots were taken in Florida Southern’s non-conference match at Eckerd Tuesday night, and how often the defense completely erased any other chances the teams may have had, there may not have been a more appropriate outcome than a 0-0 tie. With the two sides combining for only 13 shots in the game, and Brent Theriault stopping a potential game-winner by Eckerd late in the second half, the Mocs saw their fifth overtime game of the year end without a goal for either team.
The scoreless tie was the seventh in team history for the Moccasins, and the first since September 3, 2006, when a game against Alabama-Huntsville ended that way. It was also the second scoreless tie in the SSC this year, with Rollins and Florida Tech battling to that score in a conference game on September 26.
“I want to applaud the effort by all the guys tonight,” said FSC coach Hugh Seyfarth. “We’ve had a tough string of results lately, and to play four games in nine days like we did, took a huge toll on us physically and mentally. For them to re-group and play the way they did against a team that beat us 5-0 less than two weeks ago was very encouraging.”
A scoreless first half saw the Moccasins out-shoot the Tritons 5-3 and take four corner kicks without allowing any. The five shots by Florida Southern were all quality chances too. Three of them came off free kicks or corner kicks in the attacking third, with Adam Hansjons providing the set-up. Two of those resulted in headers in close by Carlos Rodriguez and James Gibson, and another gave Ashley Holmes a header from inside the box that was saved by Andrew Hoffer.
One shot that didn’t come off a set play was taken by Niklas Davidsson, who ripped one from the left flank from 25 yards in the 44th minute. It seemed to catch the Tritons off-guard but was still handled by Hoffer without too much difficulty. Eckerd defender Anthony Brenner also came up big in the 42nd minute by stopping an attack by Petter Allansson after a well-played ball from Rodriguez.
All of Eckerd’s first-half shots were also high-quality chances, including one by Joe Swindell in the seventh minute that he sent over the bar after going in 1-on-1 against Theriault. Daniel Lopez had a chance to do the same thing in the 28th minute but was brought down by Ricky Marton at the edge of the penalty box. The play resulted in a yellow card, but it allowed the Mocs to re-group and Theriault was able to deflect the free kick taken by Eduardo Juarez.
In the second half it was more of the same for both sides, with Florida Southern (2-11-2) adding just one shot to its ledger, and Eckerd (7-7-2) taking only two. Again, all of them were good chances that could have resulted in goals, and there were a handful of other times where neither team could pull the trigger. The Mocs also picked up five more corner kicks in the half, while the Tritons had three, but none of them resulted in any shots.
Though Hansjons continued his stand-out play in the second half, the only shot taken by the Mocs came off an equally well-played ball by Mitchell Francois in the 82nd minute. The sophomore midfielder hit Patrick Abrahamsson in stride, allowing him to take it straight in against Hoffer. The Eckerd net-minder was up to the challenge though, and deflected the shot wide of the net. The Tritons then cleared the corner kick to keep the game scoreless.
If Eckerd was going to score, its best opportunities came in the opening minutes of the second half or at the end of regulation. The Tritons put together a pair of good-looking drives in the first six minutes, but Holmes and Gibson each had two clearances during that time to keep them from even taking a shot.
Later, Clay Clingerman fell back when Eckerd tried to counter-attack after a corner kick, with the sophomore midfielder taking on Joe Swindell all alone in the 6-yard box and forcing the ball over the end line. Then it was Theriault’s turn to keep Swindell from scoring, as the sophomore goalkeeper stopped the Eckerd forward 1-on-1 as he drove in from the right wing in the 87th minute.
After neither team had a shot in the first overtime, Eckerd had two early in the second, but neither was on goal. The Tritons also had a free kick from just outside the penalty box with 1:10 remaining, as Nick Jackson sent it teasingly toward the far post, only to have it run out of bounds with no Eckerd player able to put a head on it.
“I think we’ll see we held possession about 65 to 70 percent of the game tonight, and I was pleased to see how we took the sting out of Eckerd’s attack. That was something we didn’t do a couple of weeks ago. I also was very proud of the way Mitchell and Adam played tonight. Our record may not indicate it, but I still believe we have a good team. We just don’t have that true goal scorer that we need to finish.”
Eckerd ended the night with a 7-6 advantage in shots, and both Theriault and Hoffer made three saves. The shutout was Theriault's second, while Hoffer earned his third.
Florida Southern will wrap up the season on Saturday in Winter Park with a 5:00 p.m. kickoff at Rollins College.