TAMPA, Fla. (gohatters.com) - Stetson men's soccer beat South Florida, 3-2, thanks in part to a pair of late goals Wednesday night at Corbett Stadium in Tampa. The win marks the first win over the Bulls since 1998.
"It shows from where we were to where we are," head coach Emmett Rutkowski "You see a lot of maturity and resiliency. The game did not start the best, but we were able to weather it. My favorite part was seeing guys that are relentless in how we pressed. We played with a lot of belief, and you could see it and sense it. Most importantly, we were playing with a completely different lineup that won the game than what started, so it shows you the way the program is growing."
Both sides were pressed into mistakes early as the Hatters gave up a goal in the ninth minute then responded by pressing South Florida into a mistake that freshman midfielder Cesar Mata capitalized on to make it 1-1 in the 13th minute.
"It was a really good team effort [tonight]," Mata said about the team's performance "but we have to keep going to win the conference, because we can control possession better and are capable of scoring more."
USF controlled the run of play in the first half creating multiple chances before recapturing the lead, 2-1. Oscar Resano got on the end of a cross and punched in his second goal and the home side's second notch at the 24:08 mark.
Despite chances for both sides, the defenses held serve through the half with no more break throughs.
The second half saw Stetson storm out with renewed vigor pressing the ball at every opportunity. The pressure wore on the Bulls as the match went on and SU created more chances further into the match.
In the 80th minute, redshirt sophomore Daniel Wintermeier notched his first career goal. The tall defender was forward for a set piece and got his head on a cross from freshman Miguel Romero that blew right by Bulls goalkeeper Jackson Weyman, tying the match at two with 10:50 left on the clock.
"It was a corner kick that got cleared back out," Wintermeier said "I recircled my run and when I saw it coming in, I knew it was my opportunity to get on top of it and get us the tying goal."
With each side pressing for a winner in the final 10 minutes, Stetson started building momentum with possession with USF pressing in counter attacks when creating turnovers. Eventually the ball found its way to the Hatter attacking right with under two minutes to play. Redshirt freshman Jayden Gonsalves took a throw in around the Bulls final third that worked sophomore midfielder Gabriel Toro into space on the right. The shifty midfielder juked his defender, attacking the end line and sent in a cross around his defender. The defense attempted to clear the attack, but sent the ball right to Mata, as the defense closed on him and the goalkeeper squared for his shot, he passed to redshirt sophomore forward Luis Lara who got around his defender on the inside and sent the ball into the net screaming into the net, and the Hatter team into orbit with a 3-2 advantage and 47 seconds left in the match.
USF tried to force another attack, but the disciplined defense prevented any chances with Gonsalves booting out a clearance as the PA 10 second countdown rang out and the clock ticked to zero.
Nicolo Radaelli made his first start facing the Bulls and notched four saves including redirecting a screaming shot off the cross bar in the second half.
"Tonight was a very important game," Radaelli said after grabbing the win "We had some difficulties at the beginning but when we realized we can play [with them] we could show our mentality and attitude."
"This one means a ton," Wintermeier said about the importance of tonight's win moving forward "With Lipscomb coming in here Saturday, Coach Rutkowski was talking about a 'shifting moment' and I think this was really it. We talk about how gritty we are, and we showed it tonight. We went down 2-1 and going into the second half getting two goals to come back."
"It was such a team effort it's tough to single out a few players," Rutkowski said of the team's performance and the effect on the program's growth. "I think it's special because we had a lot of alums that were in the stands, we had a good pool of support staff, you start seeing the type of culture built here. You have former assistants and former players that I coached texting in and they're really pumped. That's special and the next thing is how do we keep progressing and compete for an ASUN championship."
Stetson men's soccer returns to the ATC Saturday for a showdown with #9 ranked Lipscomb, kickoff is schedule 7 p.m.
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The ASUN, a Division I conference member of the NCAA, boasts a membership of institutions that share visionary leadership, bold ambition and creative innovation. As a nimble adaptive conference, unafraid to blaze a national pathway for better service to our student-athletes, teams, and institutions, the ASUN has a proud history of firsts, national academic and athletic achievements and a conference culture that walks the walk with its four ASUN Beams. Students First! Rise. Connect. Impact. #ASUNBuilt by Austin Peay (Clarksville, Tenn.), Bellarmine (Louisville, Ky.), Central Arkansas (Conway, Ark.), Eastern Kentucky (Richmond, Ky.), FGCU (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jacksonville (Fla.), Jacksonville State (Jacksonville, Ala.), Kennesaw State (Ga.), Liberty (Lynchburg, Va.), Lipscomb (Nashville, Tenn.), North Alabama (Florence, Ala.), North Florida (Jacksonville, Fla.), Queens (Charlotte, N.C.) and Stetson (DeLand, Fla.).