Hillman’s Late Goal Propels Panthers Past Bobcats

By  //  August 31, 2012

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Drake Hillman scored in the 79th minute to give Florida Tech a 1-0 victory

MIAMI GARDENS• FLORIDA— With the hint of a potential season-opening overtime after 78 scoreless minutes of play, sophomore Drake Hillman erased those thoughts from the crowd.

In the 79th minute, Hillman rippled the twine to give Florida Tech a 1-0 lead and the eventual win in the season opener against St. Thomas on Friday.

Florida Tech (1-0) and St. Thomas (0-1) had just three combined shots on goal through the first 78 minutes. But the fourth shot was the one that mattered most.

Florida Tech senior Robert Russell delivered perfect cross for Tech winner (Florida Tech image)

Senior takes charge 

Senior Robert Russell controlled the ball at midfield and then made a break down the right, far side.

From 30 yards out, Russell sent in a cross that found Hillman in the box with just one defender and the Bobcats’ goalkeeper.

Hillman took the ball right, then struck the ball left to find the back of the net and set the Panthers’ bench into a cheering frenzy.

“It was a brilliant pass,” Hillman said when describing Russell’s pass.

“It is something we have been working on quite a bit, getting crosses into the near post. I saw there was a space in the back post so I drifted into it, kept my composure and found the back of the net.”

Florida Tech's Drake Hillman scored the winner in the season opener (Florida Tech image)

The Panthers took over in the second session, outshooting the Bobcats by a margin of 13-1.

Both teams struggled to take control of the game in the first half, combining for just seven shots.

Tech keeper shuts the door

One shot by St. Thomas, however, could have changed the outcome of the game.

In the 11th minute, St. Thomas’ Malick Njie found himself one-on-one with FIT’s keeper Brentton Muhammad (1-0).

Muhammad charged towards Njie to take away the angle. Jumping in the air, Muhammad deflected the ball up over the goal to keep the game tied at 0-0.

5 Bookings and a red card

The game heated up late in the first half with the teams combining for five cards.

The Bobcats took the worst of it when Njie received a yellow card for a takedown and was then immediately issued a red card for showing his displeasure of the call.

The red card gave FIT a man advantage for the final 62 minutes.

Florida Tech head soccer coach Robin Chan (Florida Tech image)

“At halftime it was important for us to understand that we had the extra man,” head coach Robin Chan said.

“We needed to make sure we stayed patient, but kept aggressive on the attack. I think we did that well in the second half.”

Tech finds another gear

The Panthers listened. They developed several scoring chances in the final side, including six consecutive scoring chances in a span of five minutes after scoring the go-ahead goal.

The Panthers will continue their opening two-game road swing on Tuesday, Sept. 4 when they travel to Hartsville, S.C. to take on the No. 18 Coker College Cobras. The game is slated for 7 p.m.

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