Florida Tech Soccer March On Following Gutsy 1-0 Effort

By  //  November 6, 2014

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semifinal showdown against Saint Leo friday

Josh Thomas and the Panthers edged Eckerd 1-0 Tuesday evening, advancing to the SSC semifinals. (Florida Tech image)
Josh Thomas and the Panthers edged Eckerd 1-0 Tuesday evening, advancing to the SSC semifinals. (Florida Tech image)

BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – On a night in which Panther players remembered fellow student-athlete Alex Brack, who passed away on Sunday evening, Florida Tech displayed a spirited effort en route to a 1-0 triumph over Eckerd in the Sunshine State Conference Championship quarterfinal round.

With the win, the Panthers will travel to tournament-host Lynn University Friday for a semifinal showdown with No. 19 Saint Leo at 4 p.m.

On paper, Florida Tech (10-4-2) overwhelmed the Tritons (4-11-1) throughout the drizzly night at Rick Stottler Field. However, tension mounted throughout the match until the final whistle sounded.

With the match deadlocked at 0-0 early in the first half, Florida Tech’sDrake Hillman wiggled free from the Eckerd defense, creating a breakaway opportunity with keeper Alex Gott. However, Hillman struggled to find his footing and had his shot deflected away at the last second to keep the score knotted up.

In the thirty-first minute, Gott was tested once again as Florida Tech midfielder Jack Willison lined a sweeping left-footed volley towards the net. The shot was initially bobbled, but eventually corralled, preventing Florida Tech from another scoring opportunity.

Robin Chan
Robin Chan

“At this stage of the season, you win and you go on,” said head coach Robin Chan.

“Obviously, the most important thing to us was getting the positive result. I thought we earned it tonight. I thought we played well. It would’ve been nice to finish a couple more opportunities that we created, but in terms of performance, I thought we put in a good one tonight.”

The first 45 minutes were dominated by the Panthers, as the few Eckerd chances all seemed to be wiped away by offside calls. Yet, the match remained scoreless as both squads entered the locker room for halftime.

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With it raining sideways for a solid portion of the second half, Florida Tech finally pulled in front on Josh Thomas’ left-footed strike in the 52nd minute. The native of Bagworth, England, gained possession after multiple deflections in the box, finding just enough room to drill home his fourth goal of the season.

Shortly after, the Panthers were inches from adding to their lead as Hillman fired his second shot of the match, but the ball was deflected just over the crossbar to keep the Tritons in striking distant.

The lone shot on goal for Eckerd nearly tied the match, as junior Rich Ainscough flicked a bouncing ball off the post in the 68th minute. A sigh of relief was felt as the slow-motion ricochet was eventually controlled by Florida Tech keeper Mitch Thorn.

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As the clock ticked under 10 seconds remaining Eckerd heaved one final throw-in towards the net, but to no avail, allowing the Panthers to knock off the Tritons for the third time in three tries this season.

In all, Florida Tech outshot Eckerd by a wide 19-6 margin. The shutout marked the third consecutive, and seventh overall for the Panthers for this season.