JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Lipscomb Men’s Soccer team saw its season end Saturday night as second-seeded North Florida headed in the game-winning goal in the 109th minute of the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament semifinals at Hodges Stadium.
Lipscomb took the early advantage on a Jonathan Ramirez goal in the 19th minute, but it was unable to hold the lead as the A-Sun regular season co-champion Ospreys found an equalizer 20 minutes later. The two teams battled the next 70 minutes of action without a goal until UNF netted the game-winner on a rebound off a saved penalty kick with a little more than one minute to play in the final overtime.
The loss continues the postseason headache for the Lipscomb program, as it has now fallen in the semifinals of the A-Sun Championship seven times in the last nine seasons.
Numerous times throughout the match it seemed as though the Bisons would find a second goal.
Lipscomb’s sophomore midfielder and two-time first team all-conference selection Ivan Alvarado struck two of the best balls of the night, but UNF’s senior goalkeeper Kyle Nasta was up to the task.
Early in the first half, Alvarado hit a curving screamer that seemed destined to find the upper right corner, but Nasta somehow climbed the ladder and got a hand on the ball to deflect it over the end line.
Alvarado would again be denied just five minutes into play of the second half.
Second team all-conference forward Matt Kerridge made a run towards the end line, beating three defenders, before sliding a pass back to Alvarado who was standing all by himself in the middle of the box 15-yards out. The Texas native settled the ball, squared up and fired a shot that Nasta was somehow able to get a finger on to send the ball over the cross bar.
With less than seven minutes remaining it was now Kerridge’s turn. The senior drilled a hard, rising ball that was once again denied by the keeper.
In overtime UNF outshot the Bisons 7-1 and attempted two corner kicks to Lipscomb’s zero.
With No. 4 USC Upstate’s come-from-behind win at No. 1 FGCU Saturday night in Fort Myers, the Spartans advance to the A-Sun Championship Final on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. where they will face North Florida in Jacksonville.
UNF advances to its third-straight A-Sun Finals appearance. The Ospreys fell to FGCU 1-0 last year in Nashville and dropped a 3-1 decision to former A-Sun member, ETSU, in 2013 in Fort Myers.
North Florida (9-6-1)
19' – LIPSCOMB – Matt Kerridge dished the ball to Jonathan “Buddy” Ramirez at the edge of the 18-yard box, allowing Ramirez to crack off a shot and burry it in the left corner of the net to give the Bisons an early 1-0 edge.
38’ – UNF – All-Conference first teamer Alex Morrell leveled the score just seven minutes before halftime with his fourth goal of the year. Morrell dribbled into the middle of the box and struck a left-footer just inside the right post.
109’ – UNF – Helge Pietschmann stepped up for a penalty kick at 108:24 after Drew Spragg was fouled in the box by a Lipscomb defender. Pietschmann’s initial shot was saved by a diving Micah Bledsoe, but the rebound bounced right back to the first team all-conference member and he headed the ball into the empty net for the game-winner.
- UNF outshot Lipscomb 18-10, but the Bisons finished with an 8-7 advantage in shots on frame.
- Ramirez’s goal was his first of the year and the third of his career.
- Matt Kerridge notched his first assist of the season on the score. He finished his Lipscomb career with nine.
- North Florida has now defeated Lipscomb in three-consecutive meetings, the longest such streak in the series history. The Ospreys own a 7-5-1 mark all-time versus the Bisons.
- Each team played a man down for the final 36 minutes after receiving separate red card bookings.
- Bledsoe scooped up five saves in the loss and finishes the year with 59.
- Matt Kerridge, Anthony Cedano and Kevin McMahon finished their Lipscomb careers with the loss. The trio combined for 18 goals and 18 assists in their time.
WHAT HEAD COACH CHARLES MORROW SAID
“Obviously this was a devastating loss for us, but I am really proud of our guys and how they prepared and played in tonight’s game. I thought we were a bit unfortunate to not end it in regulation after having several of our opportunities cleared off the line.
We have to give credit to North Florida and their defensive effort tonight. We also want to wish them the best of luck moving forward.
Our guys left everything they had on the field tonight, but we just came up short.”