Top-20 Soccer Moments at Barnett Field, #6 (October 25, 1997)

Top-20 Soccer Moments at Barnett Field, #6 (October 25, 1997)

The recent and continuing success of the 2018 men's soccer team has drawn a lot of comparisons to past Moccasin teams, including one in particular. In 1997, the Moccasins were in their fifth season under former Florida Southern goalkeeper Kris Pahl, who by the end of his career would be involved in more games as a player, assistant coach or head coach than anyone else in the history of Florida Southern soccer, 357 to be exact. The Moccasins had been hovering right around the .500 mark for a few seasons prior to 1997, but it was that year in which they took the next step forward and began the greatest five-year run the program has ever had. From 1997-2001, the Mocs won 12 or more games four times, had three seasons allowing less than one goal per match, and became fixtures in the South Region rankings with many of those weeks in the national rankings as well. It was on October 25, 1997, that Florida Southern broke a mark that had stood for 25 years, setting a new school record for wins with a resounding 8-0 victory over Carson-Newman.

The Moccasins had started the '97 season with a school-record eight-game winning streak, and goals were rare for the opposition. The Mocs had out-scored those eight teams 22-2 and at one point had five consecutive shutouts before a 1-1 draw at Queens (NC) on October 5. Going into their October 25 match against Carson-Newman, the Mocs had pushed their record up to 10-1-2, were ranked No. 20 in the country and had still surrendered just five goals in 13 games. The Mocs had reached the 10-win plateau for only the third time in team history a week earlier, but with four games remaining in the season, they were not only looking for a school-record 11th win, but also a chance to make a statement for the NCAA selection committee. They did so by scoring their most goals against another Division II opponent in 17 years.

The Mocs didn't wait too long to score their first goal, but it was still just a 2-0 game well into the second half. Tim Cooper had converted a penalty kick in the 14th minute, and Matt Ruby rebounded in his own shot that was initially saved in the 31st minute to give the Mocs their lead. Florida Southern then exploded for six goals in the final 33 minutes to turn the game into a rout. The third, fourth and fifth goals came on three consecutive shots by Harold Betancourt, Simo Arajarvi, and Tony Zito, with Betancourt also providing the assist on the second goal in that sequence. That put the Mocs up 5-0 still with 20 minutes to play.

A goal by Gerard Goodman in the 74th minute made it 6-0, and Dan Levie scored twice after that for the final margin. Altogether, seven different Moccasins put shots in the back of the net that night, and 10 different Moccasins had either a goal or an assist, including Chris Crawshaw, Paul Sluyter and Blaise Bussell. Betancourt, Arajarvi, and Goodman had one of each. Defensively, the Moccasins allowed only five shots with Bruce Manuel, Ahmad Belfon, Jeff Collins and Luke Miller responsible for another shutout, which was the 10th of the season. Goalkeepers Cliff Dixon and Scott Horne had to make only two saves as Florida Southern lowered its team goals against average to 0.34.

The 11th win of the season established a new Florida Southern record, breaking the previous mark that had stood since 1972 and was tied once in 1991. Both of those earlier teams had won their 10th game in the final game of the season, but the 1997 Moccasins weren't quite finished. On November 5 of that year, they added another win to the record for #12, taking down Barry 1-0, which also pushed their school record for shutouts in a season to 11. The shutout record and final goals against average of 0.62 still stand, but the Moccasins broke the record for wins just two years later by going 13-5-2. That record-breaking win came on the road in the 1999 season finale at Eckerd.

#20 on the Countdown: October 24, 1958
#19 on the Countdown: September 16, 1999
#18 on the Countdown: September 25, 1980
#17 on the Countdown: October 26, 2013
#16 on the Countdown: September 25, 1978

#15 on the Countdown: October 22, 1988
#14 on the Countdown: September 14, 2003
#13 on the Countdown: November 2, 1963
#12 on the Countdown: September 30, 2009
#11 on the Countdown: September 18, 1973

#10 on the Countdown: October 23, 2010
#9 on the Countdown: September 28, 1999
#8 on the Countdown: October 10, 2015
#7 on the Countdown: October 30, 2012