Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) Men’s Soccer defeated Lipscomb in the semi-final on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 5 to advance to the ASUN final.
Rielee Mohsin headed goal in the second OT gave FGCU a 3-2 victory over Lipscomb to keep the ASUN home winning streak alive.
“We called it on the sidelines,” Bob Butehorn, FGCU head coach said. “I even said to my staff, he’s going to get a goal. That’s why we let him on the pitch, and he said it to me as well, he said, “I’m going to get it.’”
Coming from a 1-1 draw with Lipscomb a week ago in Tennessee, the Eagles fell behind 20 minutes into the first half when Logan Paynter struck past Jared Brown to give the Bisons a 1-0 lead.
“Well, they deserved it,” Butehorn said. “I think they deserved that goal. We kinda fortunate, maybe not let them score early on. They earned that goal.”
FGCU won six straight ASUN tournaments from 2010-15. The Eagles have not lost an ASUN game at home since 2008, a stretch of 28 games in a row (25-0-3). The Eagles have the longest home regular-season winning streak in the nation as well. Saturday was not any different. They were not going to lose here at home in front of their crowd. They knew this as they headed to the final. It was only a matter of time.
In the 35th minute, Zapata found Arion Sobers-Assue, who set up Albert Ruiz in a stride toward the goal, which struck with a left-footed kick to the far right post to bring FGCU level at one.
“That’s just our team. I swear, just our team,” Mohsin said. “We got a lot of heart, a lot of fight in us. We go down; we get right back in it.”
After pressuring the Bisons’ defenders, Ruiz once again put the ball in the back of the net in the 61st minute, putting FGCU up 2-1. Receiving the ball from Zapata from 25 yards out, Ruiz fired the ball with his left-foot from 20 yards out to the far left post, leaving Lipscomb’s goalkeeper stationary as he stared at the ball.
The Bisons quickly responded back as Cameron Botes scored his first goal of his collegiate career. He hit home a pass from Paynter into the net after Brown come off of his line to challenge a play into the box.
Both teams went back and forth during the last 10 minutes, pressuring each other to get another goal, but it did not happen.
Albert Ruiz got hurt after scoring his second goal. He tried to return to the game in the first OT, but his body did not allow him. Coach Butehorn made the right substitution at the right time when he put Rielee Mohsin in the game.
The first OT was scoreless, but as shocking as it was, Rielee Mohsin would bring the whole Lipscomb team to their knees. In the first four minutes of the second OT, Mohsin headed the ball in the back of the net.
The whole team ran out of the field to meet the home crowd as everyone rushed to the field to celebrate the victory. The team carried Mohsin up in the air. Fans hugged players with tears in their eyes, cameras flashes lit up the field to capture the memorable moment.
“That is a classy team we just played,” Butehorn said. “They played extremely hard. They fought through so many difficult things. They were down with injuries, so that’s a win either team could have come up with.”
Lipscomb’s fans rushed out of their seats to exit the soccer field, but the players did not have any more strength to walk off the field. They laid there in the grass, consoling one another.
It was a hard game with many hard faults that stopped the game. Many of the Eagles players recovered from the faults, but the Bisons lost their star player, Ivan Alvarado, five minutes after they scored on FGCU. The coaching staff and the medical team did not know it was as bad as they thought until they noticed Ivan screaming every time they touched his shin. He was later taken to the hospital. The ASUN player of the year, Albert Ruiz, extended his nation-leading goal total to 19.
“We have been watching the tape of the game we played with Lipscomb the last two weeks,” Ruiz said. “They’re a very tough team to beat. We had a tough time playing Lipscomb last week. Today it was exaggerated.”
Albert ran to the sideline toward the camera to celebrate his second goal with his teammates. Unfortunately, he was cramped up. He could not get back in the game when the ref. asked him and his other two teammates to get back on the field. Ruiz would spend the rest of the second half sitting out on the sidelines watching his team perform.
“I did everything I could to come back, but I couldn’t,” Ruiz said. “I mean, I was ready to take a penalty if we were going to penalty shoot-out.”
FGCU will face Jacksonville in the ASUN final here at the FGCU Soccer Complex, Saturday, Nov.12 at 7 p.m.