November 2, 2013

Lions UPSET No. 1 Rollins, Capture SSC Title

SAINT LEO, Fla. – In their final regular season matchup against the No. 1 Rollins College Tars, the No. 7 Saint Leo men's soccer team captured an explosive and exciting win to take home an upset victory and secure the Sunshine State Conference regular season title. The Lions, led by head coach Keith Fulk, defeated the visiting Tars by a 4-3 score in double overtime, Saturday night from University Soccer Field.

With a packed crowd filling the stadium, the Lions took to the scoreboard first, scoring in the 12th minute to take an early lead. The shot came off the foot of junior Lukas Cramer, whose unassisted goal marked his fifth of the season.

Nearly 15 minutes later, the Tars tied the score at 1-1, thanks to Rollins' senior Rob Cowley and a double assist from Tucker Hume and Tosan Popo. After the first 45 minutes of the match expired, the Lions and Tars headed into halftime, hoping to regroup and reload.

In the 52nd minute, junior Melvin Agyei Boateng sent a ball into the box that tipped off the foot of Frank Bayabanen towards Maximilian Schulze-Geisthovel, who blasted the ball past a diving Rollins goalkeeper to give the Lions a 2-1 lead.

Seconds later, Cramer took another opportunity to score, sending a laser shot into the top of the Tars' goal to bring the crowd to their feet and take a 3-1 lead.

Rebounding quickly, the Tars' Gareth Partidge sent a Rollins free kick through a group of Saint Leo men and into the back of the Lions' net to cut the deficit to 3-2.

In the 82nd minute, a Rollins penalty kick was sent from the foot of Tosan Popo past a diving Schoenhuber to tie the game at 3-3. With a tie score at the end of regulation, the Tars and Lions were forced into a sudden-death golden goal overtime period.

Despite a tough back and forth ten minutes, Saint Leo and Rollins were unable to score in the first overtime, forcing a second and final overtime period. With the game and the conference championship on the line, the Lions' senior Edgar Herrera connected with a loose ball in the Rollins box to send the game-winner into the back of the Rollins net for a win. The goal came in the 102nd minute of play.

The win, which cleared the entire Saint Leo stands, signaled the Lions' clinch of the Sunshine State Conference Championship for the second time in program history.  

Before the match, the seniors on the Saint Leo squad were celebrated for their contributions to the men's soccer program during their time with the green and gold. Diego Pestana, Javiem Blanchette, Sean Jones, Michael Panter, and Edgar Herrera were all honored in front of an exciting crowd before taking home a historic conference championship.

Thanks to the win, the Lions will receive a bye in the first round of the SSC tournament, and will host the remaining semifinal games and the championship match. Saint Leo is set to play the winner of Barry and Florida Southern on November 8th at 7:00 p.m. at University Soccer Field.

For more on the Saint Leo men's soccer program, visit SaintLeoLions.com. Also, be sure to 'Like' the Lions on Facebook and 'Follow' Saint Leo Athletics on Twitter and Instagram.