LAKELAND – A lengthy weather delay midway through the first half proved to be only a temporary stoppage to the Florida Southern men's soccer team, and any fears it may have killed the momentum provided by a James Meehan goal just before it were unfounded. Not long after play resumed following an hour and 45-minute delay, Meehan scored again for the Moccasins, sending them to a 2-0 win over 14th-ranked Rollins at Moccasin Field Wednesday night.
Meehan's brace, his second of the season, came in Florida Southern's first game as a nationally-ranked team in eight years and it gave them back-to-back wins over two top-25 opponents for the first time ever. The Moccasins (6-0, 2-0 Sunshine State Conference) were coming off a 2-1 victory at then-No. 15 Lynn on Saturday in which Meehan scored the game-winner in overtime. Under second-year coach Jason Carlson, the Mocs are now 6-0 for only the second time in their 62-year history, trailing only the 1997 team that started 8-0 for the best perfect start to a season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern had the first shot of the game less than three minutes into the match, but Rollins (6-1, 0-1) put together a series of runs between the 10 and 15-minute mark that resulted in a pair of shots on the other end of the field. None of those attempts by either team was on target, however, and FSC center backs Foster Appiah and Daniel Moore broke up two other scoring chances for Rollins inside the penalty area.
- Christoph Gums nearly put the Moccasins on the board in the 17th minute when he ripped a shot from the top of the box that was saved in one-handed fashion by Abdiel Martinez. Gums was then part of the scoring play in the 21st minute that gave Florida Southern the lead. The junior midfielder sent a corner kick into the box that was twice repelled by the Rollins defense, but the second time that happened, Meehan ended up with the ball and fired a shot from the left side of the box into the lower right corner of the net for his fourth goal of the season.
- Immediately after the goal, the field was cleared due to lightning and play did not resume following a second warm-up period until 9:10. The Mocs essentially picked up right where they left off with Alberto Diaz taking a shot just seconds later, and Gums forcing Martinez into another difficult save in the 25th minute. Moccasin goalkeeper Benny Yusufoglu matched Martinez with an equally impressive stop on the other end in the 31st minute, preserving the Mocs' one-goal lead.
- Meehan struck again in the 37th minute, with Gums again the catalyst on a play initiated by defender Jake Starling on the right flank. Meehan took Gums' centering pass and buried another shot in the back of the net for his second goal of the night and now team-leading fifth goal of the season.
- The Tars had one more dangerous opportunity in the 44th minute, but Yusufoglu snuffed out a shot following a long run by Stefan Avram that sent the Mocs to halftime still ahead by two goals.
- The two sides traded shots early in the second half, with Avram hitting the post in the 46th minute, and Ian McIntosh putting one on target that was stopped by Martinez moments later. Luis Bautista had another near-miss for Florida Southern in the 59th minute. One minute later Georg Michajlov was given an opportunity on a free kick and looped his shot over the Rollins wall but a bit too high over the crossbar.
- Following that attempt in the 60th minute, each team had only one more shot the rest of the night, and the Mocs' was the more troubling of the two. Receiving a ball from Julian Jordan-Canosa on the right flank, Taylor Vincent was denied a goal only by Martinez's diving save at the near post. The final Rollins attempt was a free kick taken by Ray Gerke in the 73rd minute that was blocked by the Florida Southern wall outside the box.
- Florida Southern out-shot Rollins 14-8, representing the most shots the Tars have allowed this season. It was the fifth time in six games the Moccasins have allowed less than 10, with the back line of Appiah, Moore, Starling and Claus Lehland providing them with their SSC-leading fifth shutout this year.
- Yusufoglu had three saves for Florida Southern and Martinez had four for Rollins.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- The Moccasins are now 3-0 in games this year against teams ranked in the regional poll ahead of them. Those wins have come against Montevallo, Lynn, and Rollins. The Tars were No. 2 in the South Region this week and Florida Southern was No. 3.
- Wednesday night's game was only the fifth time the Moccasins were involved in a ranked-vs.-ranked matchup, and the first since 1999 when No. 20 Florida Southern lost to No. 2 Barry, 1-0.
- The Moccasins began the night ranked third nationally in goals against average at 0.198. Rollins had a 0.500 goals against average and had a three-game shutout streak snapped by Meehan's goal in the 21st minute.
- The only other time Florida Southern started a season 6-0, in 1997, their sixth win also came against Rollins.
- Though Rollins still leads the all-time series 52-14-9, the Moccasins and Tars have split their 10 meetings evenly since 2010 with each team winning five times. Three of those Florida Southern wins have come when Rollins was a top-25 team, including a 3-1 decision in Winter Park in 2010 (Rollins was No. 17), and a 4-1 win in Lakeland in 2011 (Rollins was No. 5).
- This year is the third time Florida Southern has beaten two nationally ranked teams in the same season. The other years were 2000, when they beat the No. 1 and No. 3 ranked teams in the country, and 2010, when they won three such games against Rollins, Barry, and Lynn, all on the road.
- Florida Southern's five shutouts this season are the most since the 2002 team had seven, and Yusufoglu's five individual shutouts are tied for the second most in the team record book. Don Brady (1978) and Oscar Gullbrandsson (2002) also had five, and only Cliff Dixon has more with 11 in 1997.
Florida Southern will be on the road Saturday night at Saint Leo for a 7 p.m. match against the Lions.