SAINT LEO, Fla. – In a fitting farewell to the current University Field, a gritty Saint Leo men's soccer team (8-5-0, 3-4-0 SSC) defeated the Florida Tech Panthers (8-5-1, 3-4-0 SSC), 1-0, Saturday night in Sunshine State Conference action.
A successful Daniel Valdez header in the 109th-minute continued to add life the to Lions' postseason hopes as they earned their third conference win of the season.
A physical contest from the onset, the two teams did not allow 35 combined fouls, including six cautions, to interrupt what was the most intense match of the 2011 campaign.
The Lions peppered Panthers' goalkeeper Brentton Muhammed with nine shots during the opening 45 minutes but could not dent the scoreboard. The Saint Leo defense was also up to the challenge in the opening half as they only allowed one shot all together from Florida Tech.
With the physicality of the match increasing, both squads pushed to find the breakthrough goal. Valdez, however, made it a point to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard and maintain the Lions postseason chances. With 13:30 to go in regulation, Valdez made a sliding team save against the left post to keep the game scoreless.
The play ignited the Lions' effort throughout the next 30 minutes. Saint Leo controlled the pace of play for much of both overtime sessions. After watching the first one tick down with no change on the board, the Lions used one of their three shots in the second overtime period to put away the Panthers.
With 1:21 remaining on the clock, Michael Panter set-up what was the sixth corner kick of the match. An unsuccessful attempt on the original corner saw a long rebound deflect back out to Panter. The midfielder settled the ball to his foot and sent a precision pass to the left edge of the box. From there, a leaping Valdez got above his defender and nudged a pass to right outstretched arm of Mohammed solidifying the victory.
McKenzey Scott collected his third clean sheet of the season as he improved to 8-5 on the season. He made two saves one eight shots. Muhammed was stellar in net for the Panthers as he collected 11 saves on 22 shot attempts.
In addition, Saint Leo held the advantage in corner kicks, 6-1, one of which eventually led to the game-winning tally.
The Lions have one game remaining on the 2011 slate as they will close out the season against archrival Tampa on Wednesday, October 26. Kickoff for the pivotal SSC contest is set for 7:00 p.m. For the latest news, updates, and information on the men's soccer team, visit SaintLeoLions.com.