The Florida Tech Men’s Soccer team opened their season with a win Thursday night, beating Lee 1-0 at Rick Stottler Field on the campus of FIT.
“A lot of credit to Lee, they worked really hard and made it difficult for us,” said Panthers coach Robin Chan. “They made it hard for us to get into a rhythm, especially in that first half. Maybe first game rustiness in that first half particularly, but important for us to get the result, that’s an important habit for us to get into at this stage.”
Florida Tech registered 11 shots, but only two were on goal, both by Luca Campanini. Florida Tech netminder Aymerick Berald-Cate stopped all three shots he faced, recording a clean sheet in the first game of the season.
Campanini netted the only goal of the night for either side with 30:37 left in the second half and the Panthers hung on, despite playing the last 29:27 a man down. Robbie Madden was shown a red card after arguing with the referee and that meant the Panthers would go the rest of the way with 10 men.
“It was a reaction from our player on a non-call, the boot was high and the ref played on while he (Madden) was down,” said Chan. “He reacted in the wrong way and he knows it. That’s obviously a bit of adversity as a group we had to deal with and I thought we handled ourselves well.”
As expected, the first half was a feeling out process for the Panthers, who did get a couple decent chances early, with Campanini forcing Flames goalkeeper Daniel Hrenko to make a save 5:58 in and Per Henrik Nag banging one off the post, with 8:10 gone by.
Nag would get another chance with 29:18 left in the half and he beat Hrenko, but the play was offsides and the game remained scoreless.
The Panthers (1-0-0) took three consecutive corner kicks, all by Craig McCall within 71 seconds, but the Panthers were unable to cash in.
Lee (0-1-0) had the first good chance of the second half, with Jose Orellana getting off a good shot that was stopped by Berald-Cate. Florida Tech took the ball back up the field and Paris Junior Roserie fed the ball to Campanini, who headed it home, giving the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
The Flames would take advantage of the space created without Madden in there, with Lee Samaan getting two shots off in just over three minutes. Berald-Cate came up with saves on both. Lee took just five shots all night, with three of them on net.
“He did his job,” said Chan of Berald-Cate. “Hopefully he doesn’t have a lot to do in the game, but a couple important saves he had to be brave in and I thought he did a good job with that. Sometimes those are hard if you haven’t had a lot of action.”
Florida Tech looked to add an insurance goal with 1:15 left in the contest, but the shot off the foot of Guillermo Segovia Ma hit the crossbar. He would get another chance 35 seconds later, but that shot would go wide.
For more info: Lee @ Florida Tech Box Score
The Panthers will now play their next two games on the road, starting with Saturday’s trip to Alabama to take on Auburn University Montgomery, at 7:00 p.m. They will stay there to play Union University out of Tennessee on Monday in a 5:00 p.m. start.
“It is important for us to get comfortable learning how to travel and be able to produce a performance,” Chan said. “That’ll be the challenge and the next step in the journey for us.”
“We play gain on Monday which is gonna be an extra challenge for us,” Chan continued. “Just makes it a little bit of a tougher more challenging opening season.”