Spartanburg, S.C. – Xavier Silva scored with a little more than seven minutes to play in the game to lift Florida Gulf Coast to a 1-0 victory over a gutsy USC Upstate squad in A-Sun men's soccer action Friday night at County University Soccer Stadium.
FGCU improved to 6-3-2 overall and 3-0-0 with nine points in the A-Sun. Upstate fell to 5-6-1 overall and 2-2-1 with seven points in the league. The Spartans will play host to Stetson Sunday at noon on Senior Day as Upstate honors nine seniors who are playing their final regular season home game of their careers.
"I thought we fought hard tonight," said Upstate head coach Greg Hooks. "I thought we played pretty even for the first 20 minutes, then they settled in and took over. The last 15 minutes, they really attacked us. Although they didn't get many really good chances, the fact that they continued to attack us made a difference. When they scored their goal, their man was marked. He just was able to get a head on the ball and put it in."
Upstate went on the attack early and created two opportunities in the first eight minutes, but the FGCU defense closed down to prevent any shots. The Eagles had the game's first real scoring opportunity in the 19th-miniute when Josey Portillo got behind the Upstate defense on the left side of the box. Upstate goalkeeper Jason McCabe (Irmo, S.C.) came off his line to create a tough angle for Portillo and Portillo's shot went wide of the goal.
FGCU created another scoring opportunity when Deion Jones pounded a shot from the right side that curved toward the left post. McCabe was there to knock the ball away in the 36th-minute. Upstate countered two minutes later and on a free kick, John Kadane (Garland, Texas) flicked a ball to the far post, but James Hadley (Norwich, England) couldn't get a head on it as FGCU keeper Adam Glick deflected the ball over the end line for an Upstate corner kick.
The teams battled to a scoreless tie in the first half. FGCU owned the lead in shots with five, though McCabe had to make just one save. Upstate had the one shot and Glick was credited with the save as he deflected the ball over the end line on Kadane's flick.
McCabe came up huge in the 61st-minute in the second half. FGCU put together a pair of crosses that ended with a header by Portillo. The header floated toward the goal and McCabe had to make a jumping save to prevent the goal and flick the ball over the goal.
McCabe made another strong save with a little more than eight minutes to play in the game. Christian Velez hammered a shot from the right side and McCabe made a diving save to his right.
FGCU's relentless attack in the second half finally took its toll on Upstate and the Eagles scored with 7:03 to play. Jeremy Vollmer played a cross from the right to Silva. Silva put the header in the back of the net to give FGCU a 1-0 lead. The Eagles nearly made it a 2-0 score when Will Morse's shot hit off the post with under five minutes to play.
FGCU finished the game with a 17-2 lead in shots, taking 12 in the second half alone. The Eagles placed seven on goal and McCabe made five saves for the Spartans. Upstate finished with two shots in the game with Glick making a save.
"We fought hard enough to win, but they played hard enough to win," said Hooks. "The most important thing we take out of this tonight is that we are disappointed with this outcome. We need to put this behind us and concentrate on trying to get three points on Sunday. Stetson is as quality a team as they always have been. It certainly doesn't get any easier."