WINTER PARK – A tie game at halftime was exactly the type of thing Florida Southern was looking for Saturday night at 14th-ranked Rollins, but two goals early in the second half changed that very quickly. Rollins then went on to score three more goals after that and hand the Moccasins a 6-2 defeat in their season finale.
“A 1-1 tie at halftime was perfect for us,” said FSC head coach Hugh Seyfarth. “They’re one of the highest scoring teams in the country, we were playing well and had the game where we wanted it, but before we knew it, it was 3-1, and it forced us to change what we were doing. We had a couple of chances to make it 3-2 that we couldn’t convert and it just got away from us after that.”
Both teams scored in the first 12½ minutes of the game on free kicks with Rollins going on the board first. After the Tars’ leading scorer, Rob Crowley, ran over the ball, Brett Durrance followed in behind him to blast a shot off the left post on the 20-yard direct free kick. The sixth-minute goal was the seventh of the year for Durrance.
In the 13th minute, the Moccasins (2-12-2, 1-7 SSC) used a free kick from much further out to tie the score at one. Niklas Davidsson sent the ball into the box from the left flank between the sideline and center circle, but Rollins defender Mark Biddinger immediately cleared it to the opposite side where Clay Clingerman had fallen back for the Moccasins. Clingerman sent the ball back into the box where James Gibson soared over the Rollins defender to send a header into the net for his first career goal.
Before the end of the first half, both teams would hit the crossbar once (Rob Crowley in the 23rd minute for Rollins, Mitchell Francois in the 35th for FSC), and Rollins goalkeeper Keneil Baker saved two good shots by Matthew Firestine in the 27th minute.
The second half started with Durrance hitting the post for Rollins in the 47th minute and the ball ending up with Philip Schad. His quick pass inside the Grant Blackhurst turned into the go-ahead goal. The Mocs barely had time to recover before combo passing by Durrance and Schad drove the Tars right down the middle of the field and led to another goal by Blackhurst, his fifth of the season. That put the Mocs in a 3-1 hole just six minutes into the second half.
The Tars (12-3-2, 4-2-1) made it 4-1 in the 55th minute when Alex Bisbee connected on a shot from dead center of the field, 25 yards out. Bisbee then had a shot saved by Brent Theriault in the 63rd minute, but Durrance was there for the rebound and his second goal of the night, making the score 5-1.
Less than three minutes later, Schad scored on a shot from the left side of the box after taking a pass from Joe Crowley, and it was 6-1. That capped an 18-minute span that saw Rollins score five goals on a total of eight shots.
“Once we got down 3-1 and had to change some things, we let ourselves get exposed in the back,” said Seyfarth. “They just took it to us right down the middle like bulldozers.”
Florida Southern scored in the 74th minute when Patrick Abrahamsson slipped in behind the Tars after they failed to clear a throw-in, and connected for his third goal of the season, giving him a share of the team lead with Carlos Rodriguez and Luke Jenner.
The Tars had a chance to score more after that but Theriault came up with four saves during that time to keep the score where it was. The Tars finished with a 24-9 advantage in shots, however, and Theriault had a total of eight saves in the game.
“I’d like to thank all of our seniors, Ashley Holmes, Jovaughn Howard, James May and David Blanco, for their effort this year,” said Seyfarth. “They fought hard all the way to the end.”