LAKELAND – For roughly three quarters of their game against top-ranked Lynn University Saturday night, the Florida Southern Moccasins were on the verge of pulling off another upset of another top-five team. In the span of 14 seconds, however, the Knights changed all of that with a pair of stunning goals that allowed them to come from behind for a 4-1 non-conference win over the Mocs.
“I thought we gave a tremendous effort tonight and responded well coming back from the type of game we had against Rollins,” said head coach Hugh Seyfarth. “To go up 1-0 against Lynn and hold that lead for more than 65 minutes says a lot about the way we played. We went out and executed our game plan to perfection for all that time, but it got away from us.”
Lynn (8-0) came into the game having allowed just one goal all season while surrendering an average of only six shots per game. They hadn’t trailed since losing to Fort Lewis in overtime in last year’s national championship game, but Aleks Ratkovic put them in that unfamiliar position when he notched the first goal of his career. In the 22nd minute, the senior forward split the Lynn defense down the middle, drove into the box on a play set up Patrick Abrahamsson, and slid a shot inside the left post. It was one of only two shots taken by Florida Southern (1-5-1) in the first half, but it was enough to give the Mocs a 1-0 lead and thoughts of knocking off a top-five team for the second year in a row at Barnett Field.
While the Mocs may not have been shooting, neither were the Knights. Florida Southern’s back line held them to just four first-half shots, with one of those coming just over a minute into the match. They didn’t have another one until the 34th minute when Yannick Braeuer sent one from inside the box over the crossbar.
Lynn controlled the early stages of the second half but was unable to dent the Moccasin defense. That included a sequence in the 51st minute when Ashley Holmes came up with a blocked shot at the top of the box against Julian Halder, and Youcef Oudjudane sent a follow-up attempt wide to the left.
The Mocs would later push forward on a counter-attack that nearly gave them a 2-0 lead. Luke Jenner shot one off the crossbar, and when the Knights were unable to get control of the rebound, Alexander Garcia took another shot from the top of the box that Lynn goalkeeper Matt DiCerbo made a diving stop to keep out of the net. A few minutes later, Abrahamsson would put DiCerbo to the test with a rocket from the left wing, but Lynn’s goalkeeper again went to the ground for the save.
After withstanding the Florida Southern assault, Lynn got on the scoreboard at the 66:58 mark when the Mocs were whistled for a foul on the left edge of the penalty box, and Heiko Eberhardt converted from the 12-yard spot. Before the Mocs could re-group though, Lynn had the ball right back after the kickoff, with Halder sending the ball into the box for another scoring chance. Though Moccasin goalkeeper Andres Guzman tried to punch it clear, the ball ended up with Anthony Desperito, who volleyed an 18-yard shot under the bar for a 2-1 Knights’ lead. The two goals came just 14 seconds apart.
The score remained 2-1 until Desperito assisted goals in the 83rd and 86th minutes while the Mocs were playing a man down. Eberhardt and Halder were also credited with assists on the final two goals, which were scored by Martin Wehler and Jack Winter.
Lynn ultimately out-shot Florida Southern 16-7 in the match, and also took 10 corner kicks to Florida Southern’s one. The Mocs hit the crossbar once and the post once, and were stopped by DiCerbo three times. Guzman made three saves for Florida Southern, which also got brilliant play from Holmes before he was sent off in the 68th minute.
“I can’t say enough about the effort, the passion and the coach-ability of this team,” said Seyfarth. “We worked on our shape and our organization in practice, the guys executed, and everything was right for us a chance to beat the #1 team in the country. With effort like this, we’re going to win a lot more games than we’ll lose.”
Florida Southern will play its first conference match of the season on Wednesday when it hosts Nova Southeastern at 7:00 p.m. The Mocs and Sharks have played once already this season, with Florida Southern winning the non-conference battle 1-0.