For the second time in a week, the Florida Tech Panthers men’s soccer team traveled to Rollins, to take on the Tars in a Sunshine State Conference quarterfinal tournament game. Last week, the Panthers dropped a 4-2 decision, giving Rollins home field advantage in this game. The Panthers had the lead for much of the game Tuesday before Rollins got two goals in the last 7:42, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory.
It was a hard-fought game from the outset, with both teams having limited chances early before things really opened up in the second half. Panthers goalie Chris Page made some outstanding saves and deserved a better fate, as did the rest of his team.
Rollins got on the board first when Johnny Nartowicz got a free-kick and sent it in for Ben Grant who was able to head it into the net, giving Rollins a 1-0 lead 15:41 into the contest.
Florida Tech (9-6, 6-4 SSC) evened things up on a scramble in front of the net. Luca Campanini found some space and scored on Rollins goalkeeper Drew Trautmann, evening the score at one, with 27:24 gone in the half. The Panthers weren’t done. Moments after Page made a great tip save, sending the ball over the net, Paris Junior Roserie got loose and found the back of the net, giving the Panthers a 2-1 lead with 9:51 left in the half.
The Panthers were able to hold that lead into the break and things looked really good for them for much of the second half. At the 26:34 mark, Page came out to make a save and got run into by a hard-charging Avram. It was not intentional at all on the part of Avram, but Page did stay down for a bit. After he got up, he looked to be favoring his shoulder, but to his credit, continued to play a heck of a game.
Grant did his best to test Page and that shoulder moments later, but Page was up to the task, turning another Grant header away.
With 7:42 to go in the game, disaster struck for the Panthers, as Jan Hlavica looked to clear a ball that Avram sent in and it just glanced off Hlavica’s foot and into his own net. There was nothing Page could do and just like that, the game was tied at two.
It took just 1:15 for the Tars to strike again on a great individual effort by Avram as he got by his defender and took off, beating Page in the far corner and giving the Tars a 3-2 lead against a deflated Florida Tech bunch and who could blame them.
For more info: Florida Tech @ Rollins Box Score
There really couldn’t be a more difficult way for the Panthers season to end, so hopefully, they will hear their name called next week when the NCAA Tournament seedings are announced. Until then, all they can do is wait.