SAINT LEO, FL – Christoph Gums scored the first goal of the match midway through the first half, and then combined with Eneko Lasheras to give the Moccasins two short-handed goals in the second half as No. 18 Florida Southern remained undefeated with a 3-1 win Saturday night at Saint Leo.
The Moccasins upped their overall record to 7-0 and their Sunshine State Conference record to 3-0. That moves them within one of tying the school record for the best undefeated start in the program's 62-year history, while giving them their first 3-0 start in SSC play for the first time. It also almost certainly assured themof moving up in the next national poll for what would be their highest ranking ever.
Saint Leo (2-5, 0-3) broke up what would have been Florida Southern's sixth shutout of the season with a goal in the 90th minute, but the Mocs have still allowed just two goals through the first seven games.
HOW IT HAPPENED
- Florida Southern scored its first goal in the 24th minute when Pablo Gallo Arias won the ball in the right corner of the field and sent a perfect cross to the center of the box for Gums, who immediately put the ball in the left side of the net with goalkeeper Roberto Biendicho on the wrong side of the goal. It was Gums' fourth goal of the season and extended his points streak to five games.
- Arias, who now leads Florida Southern with four assists, had already put Saint Leo to the test four minutes into the game on a similar sequence by putting an earlier cross into the box for Lasheras, but that shot was blocked. The Lions then put a scare into the Mocs in the sixth minute when a misplayed corner kick resulted in two shots in quick succession. The first, a header by Hermon Constant was blocked, and a longer attempt a few seconds later was well-struck by Haydn Dickinson but right at goalkeeper Benny Yusufoglu.
- Not long after Yusufoglu made his first save, center back Foster Appiah blocked a shot by Elias Niesigk at the top of the box to turn aside another attack. That shot, however, was the last taken by Saint Leo until nearly five minutes into the second half, a stretch of nearly 40 minutes without one. The Moccasins, meanwhile, put the pressure on the Lions with a pair of shots in the final 10 minutes of the first half, including one by Taylor Vincent on a counter-attack that was saved by Biendicho.
- Saint Leo had the first scoring chance of the second half when Constant fired off a shot from the left side of the box in the 50th minute, but Yusufoglu was in position at the near post to make an easy save. Less than a minute later, Mathis Hardy was able to head the ball down to his feet and split the defense for a run at the goal, but his shot from close range was wide.
- Just as they did in the first half, the Moccasins again settled down after the early push by Saint Leo. It took a big save by Biendicho in the 64th minute to keep James Meehan from scoring, and Luis Bautista had a shot in the 68th minute blocked deep inside the box on a play the Mocs thought might have been a handball.
- The elusive second goal came in the 71st minute when the Lions headed clear a long throw-in by Nick Atwood, only to have the ball end up with an unmarked Lasheras in the center of the field. The junior midfielder hit the shot from 20 to 25 yards for his first goal as a Moccasin.
- Three minutes later the Mocs were on the board again after Bautista intercepted a pass near the center circle and sent the ball across the field for Gums who converted for his second goal of the night and a 3-0 Florida Southern lead. Lasheras then had a chance for a second goal too with another shot from distance in the 78th minute but hit that one wide.
- Saint Leo prevented the clean sheet when it pushed forward in the game's closing seconds following a throw-in from their own side of the field. Constant scored the goal with 26 seconds remaining after receiving a thru ball from Michael Tinari and hitting a shot just inside the left post. It was Constant's first goal of the season.
- Florida Southern out-shot Saint Leo 14-13, with Yusufoglu making two saves and Biendicho making three.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
- Gums scored two goals in a 4-0 win over Saint Leo last year, giving him a brace against the Lions two years in a row.
- The Moccasins came into the weekend ranked second in the country in team goals against average at 0.165 with just one goal allowed in 545 minutes. Only defending national champion Charleston (WV) was ahead of them, with the Golden Eagles starting this season with seven consecutive shutouts. They play at Wheeling Jesuit on Sunday. Yusufoglu was second individually behind Charleston's Alvaro Dean.
- The only other time Florida Southern has started a season 7-0, in 1997, the Moccasins defeated Palm Beach Atlantic (4-0), and Embry-Riddle (5-1), long before they would later join the Sunshine State Conference, and Southeastern (8-1), before reeling off five consecutive 1-0 wins over West Florida, Montevallo, Rollins, Nova Southeastern, and Wingate.
- The 7-0 record not only gives the Moccasins their second best undefeated start in team history, it also ties their third longest overall winning streak. The Mocs' last seven-game winning streak occurred over a two-season span from 2000-01. The longest winning streak Florida Southern has ever had is nine in a row, which included the final game of 1996 and the first eight of 1997. The current seven-game winning streak the Moccasins are riding represents only the third time they have ever won seven in a row within one season. Those streaks have occurred in 1971 (eight games), 1997 (eight games), and this year.
- Though Lasheras scored his first goal with Florida Southern, he scored nine times at Marshalltown Community College in Iowa over the last two seasons.
- Florida Southern had to play a man down for the final 34 minutes after Alberto Diaz picked up a second yellow card. The Mocs still out-scored the Lions 2-1 during that span.
- Florida Southern has already matched its season total of 22 goals last year in half the games.
- The Moccasins are now 30-26-5 all-time against Saint Leo and have won the last two meetings after six straight wins by the Lions.
- Three of Saint Leo's five losses this year have come to nationally ranked teams. The Lions lost 3-2 to then-No. 18 Wingate on September 1, and 1-0 to No. 5 Palm Beach Atlantic last Wednesday.
Florida Southern steps outside of the Sunshine State Conference for its next game on Tuesday at Flagler College. Kickoff in St. Augustine is 7 p.m.