LAKELAND – The difference between Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern in their Sunshine State Conference match Wednesday night may have been a matter of inches. Whatever it was, it was the width of a single post. The Moccasins hit it once late in the game with the score tied before the Sharks went on to break the tie themselves a few minutes later and come away with a 2-1 win.
Wednesday’s game was the second between the Moccasins (1-6-1, 0-1 Sunshine State Conference) and Sharks (5-3, 1-1), with Florida Southern winning a non-conference tilt in Davie by the count of 1-0. Nova was credited with 20 more shots than Florida Southern in that one, yet still lost when Jovaughn Howard came off the bench to score for the Mocs in the 71st minute. This time, the Moccasins cut the shot deficit in half, with Nova holding a 17-7 edge, yet the final result was nearly the same. The difference was the crossbar and Nova forward Riccardo Bini, who scored both goals for the Sharks.
The Moccasins trailed 1-0 before Carlos Rodriguez knotted the score on a penalty kick in the 60th minute. It was Rodriguez himself who won the PK in the first place, fighting for the ball inside the Nova Southeastern box, winning it back, and drawing the foul. The freshman from Tampa then calmly stepped to the 12-yard spot and slammed the kick home for his first career goal.
The Sharks came right back with heavy pressure and took four of their 17 shots in the match in the span of 3½ minutes immediately after the penalty kick. Brent Theriault saved two of them, including one by Bini right in front of the left post. The Sharks got a corner kick out of it, and Guido Riffeser lined up another shot from the left side of the box, but Theriault stopped that one too after it deflected off another player and spun toward the goal.
Not long after that, David Blanco checked into the game for Florida Southern and nearly duplicated Howard’s game-winning heroics from earlier in the season. After Patrick Abrahamsson forced the issue in favor of Florida Southern in the attacking third, Blanco curled a shot from the top of the box that was over the head of goalkeeper Andrea Giombetti. It was almost perfect but instead of finding the back of the net in the very top left corner, the ball bounced off the bar and spun away from the goal. Rodriguez then put another shot high in the 76th minute.
Bini would then score his second goal of the night in the 85th minute when defender Karl Enarsson played the ball thru to him, allowing Bini to take it in for the 1-on-1 opportunity. The Sharks spent most of the remainder of the game trying to run time off the clock for their first conference win of the season.
The two sides spent most of the game’s first 20 minutes testing each other with only one shot apiece during that time, and Nova’s attempt coming 40 yards downfield. The Sharks’ second shot resulted in a goal, however, as Andrea Spuntarelli fed Bini with a ball down the middle of the field, with Bini taking it directly into the box. Theriault came out to challenge him and got a hand on the shot, but could only watch as the ball still bounced over the line for Bini’s fifth goal of the season.
The Moccasins tried to answer in the 28th minute on a free kick, but Abrahamsson pushed his shot too high. Mitchell Francois had a solid attempt too in the 44th minute when he tested Giombetti from the right wing, but it was saved to keep it a 1-0 game at halftime.
Another free kick in the 55th minute gave the Mocs another chance at the tying goal with Rodriguez placing it right into the middle of the box. The Nova defense appeared to be confused for a moment as the ball bounced in, but Giombetti managed to get it out of danger before the Mocs could take a shot.
Giombetti finished with two saves for Nova and Theriault made three for Florida Southern.
The Moccasins will be on the road for their next game on Saturday when they travel to Melbourne to face Florida Tech at 4:00 p.m.