SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo University men’s soccer team concluded regular season play with a 3-1 victory over Nova Southeastern in Sunshine State Conference action on Wednesday evening from a chilly University Field. With the win the Lions pick up three important points as teams begin to align themselves for the SSC Tournament, which begins on Tuesday afternoon. Saint Leo, who notched their fifth conference win, stand alone in third place in the SSC with 15 points, behind Lynn and Tampa, who are tied for first.
The Lions (9-6-1, 5-3) spun the scoreboard first as two SLU seniors connected on a beautiful score in the 15th minute. Brandon Whitsett drove the ball even with the box before dropping it into Eusebio Montoya at the top of the box. After dribbling around a couple of Shark defenders, Montoya laced a ball past the diving keeper and inside the left post.
Speedy sophomore Jonathan Glenn used a baseball-style slide to put the Lions up 2-0 in the 34th minute. As the Lions attempted to keep possession of an errant corner-kick that nearly was sent out of the NSU side of the field, defender Art Gendreau stepped up and crossed a ball into the keeper’s box where is was deflected by Whitsett. His slight touch of the ball caught the keeper off-guard and he did not react quick enough to Glenn, who came sliding in near the back post to plant the ball in the net.
The Lions added a penalty-kick goal from Bruce Cutler just three minutes later when Montoya was drug down in the box. Cutler easily converted the penalty and the Lions went into the interval up 3-0.
Saint Leo needed to play stellar defense in the second half, and nearly did that very thing; with one exception as the Lions were called on a foul in the box in the 68th minute. The resulting penalty kick by Craig Heenighan was good, giving Nova their only goal of the contest.
Although both teams would have serious chances in the final 20 minutes, neither could again find the net, and the Lions would prove victorious.
Saint Leo would have the edge in shots on goal 11-to-5 as Griffin Pharr would post three saves and the Lions would notch a team save. Saint Leo also led in corners 6-to-1.
The Lions await completion of the remaining SSC contests before knowing exactly where they will find themselves in the tournament. It is assured that Saint Leo will host a game on Tuesday, but the opponent is yet to be determined.
Stay tuned to SaintLeoLions.com for Sunday’s release of opponents and times.