North Florida Upends Upstate
North Florida scored two goals in each half and won an offensive battle by taking a 4-2 victory over USC Upstate in A-Sun men's soccer action Sunday afternoon at Hodges Stadium.
The loss dealt Upstate a big blow in its quest to secure a spot in the six-team A-Sun Tournament. Upstate fell to 4-8-2 overall and 1-4-2 with five points in the A-Sun. The Spartans are three points out of a spot in the tournament with two games left. However, the team in the sixth position for the tournament is Lipscomb, the Spartans' opponent next Sunday at County University Soccer Stadium. North Florida strengthened its position for a tournament spot with the win and stands 3-10-1 overall and 3-3-1 with 10 points in the conference.
"They put their chances away and we didn't," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "They made their chances count. We had some unlucky things happen to us, but that's how it goes sometimes. You just can't give up four goals and expect to win games. We put up a decent offensive attack today, but gave up four goals. That was the difference.
We are still definitely in it (the fight for a position in the A-Sun Tournament). There are still six points out there and if we win both games next weekend we will finish with 11 points. I think that will allow us to leapfrog over a couple of teams and could even get to fifth. We didn't do ourselves any favors with the losses this weekend, but we aren't out of it by any stretch of the imagination."
Upstate and North Florida battled to create chances in the first 23 minutes of the first half. The teams notched two shots each, but it was the Ospreys' second shot that cracked the scoreboard. After an Upstate foul, North Florida took the free kick and played the ball into the box. Theo Fulger collected the loose ball and put the shot into the bottom right side of the goal past Spartan goalkeeper Pat Regna for a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
Despite falling behind midway through the first half, Upstate continued to battle and tied the game in the 32nd minute. The Spartans were given a corner kick and Timo Foerster played a ball into the box. The ball was loose and bounced toward the top of the box where Maurice Beggs hammered the ball into the net past UNF goalkeeper Jullian Beau to tie the game at 1-1.
North Florida regained the momentum nine minutes later. Matthew Hollyoak played a pass from the midfield into the box where Greg Crowell took the pass and put the shot into the bottom right side of the goal to lift the Ospreys to a 2-1 lead.
North Florida maintained the lead for the rest of the half and took its 2-1 advantage into halftime. Both teams were active offensively and combined for 15 shots, eight for UNF and seven for Upstate.
North Florida struck first in the second half. Following a yellow card on Upstate, UNF was issued a free kick. Hollyoak sent a cross into the box where Adam O'Neill put the shot away in the top right of the goal to give the Ospreys a 3-1 lead in the 61st minute.
Upstate, though, would not quit and got a goal back just under six minutes later. After a free kick, Foerster took a shot from outside of the box and found the back of the net to get the Spartans within a goal at 3-2 in the 67th minute.
The back and forth flow of the game tilted back to North Florida's side in the 69th minute. Calvin Lowe broke through Upstate's defense and went one-on-one with Regna. Lowe was able to win the battle and found the back of the net to give the Ospreys a 4-2 lead.
Despite battling, Upstate could not draw closer as North Florida held its two-goal advantage for the win. Upstate outshot North Florida for the game, holding a 15-13 lead. However, the Ospreys put 10 of its shots on goal while the Spartans managed just five shots on goal for the game.
Upstate's Regna made six saves on the day, while Beau notched three for North Florida. The Spartans did have two unlucky breaks go against them in the game which could have made a huge difference in the outcome. Foerster had a shot hit the post and Erkan Yildirim knocked a shot over the goalkeeper and towards the empty goal, but the ball took a funny bounce and went wide of the mark.