A successful counter attack in the second half gave ETSU (9-6-2, 5-2-0 A-Sun) a 1-0 win over the Stetson men's soccer team (3-8-2, 2-4-1 A-Sun) on Senior Day at the Athletics Training Center.
An emotional afternoon for seniors Jonathan Mendoza, Luis Ocejo, Kai Eckenrode, Joakim Helland, and Caleb Matthews, the Hatters came out with energy and dominated possession against the Buccaneers throughout the contest.
As has been an issue for Stetson all season long, the team just couldn't put one in the back of the net on Sunday. With 14:30 remaining in the first half a corner kick taken by Eckenrode found the head of junior JJ Bostic at the far post, but the defender's header attempt was saved by Buccaneer goalkeeper Ryan Coulter.
Neither squad was able to get any other clean looks at goal during the first 45 minutes, but the Hatters definitely had the advantage. Stetson outshot ETSU 6-2 in the first frame, and recorded five corner kicks to the Bucs' one.
After the break, ETSU had its first real opportunity to score just over a minute into play. Simon Schroettle took a free kick from outside the left side of the box, and as it deflected off of a Stetson defender and headed towards net, goalkeeper Andreas Schnabl was forced to make a difficult diving save to keep the game scoreless.
It wasn't until the 74th minute of action that the Bucs took their 1-0 lead that remained for the rest of the contest. After an ETSU foul gave Stetson a free kick just outside the top of the box, an early play of ball by the Hatters proved costly. The Bucs quickly gained possession and started a counter attack.
The first attempt on the break by David Geno hit off the post and rebounded out to Luis Calzadilla in the right side of the box. His shot was saved by Schnabl, but unfortunately for Stetson, rebounded out to around the six yard line where Alesi Osorio finished home.
Stetson fought to tie the game for the final 16 minutes, and the best opportunity came when Mendoza played a long ball down the left side to a streaking Eckenrode. The forward carried to the end line and crossed a ball toward the far post where Raffaele Centofanti got his foot on it, but sent his shot just wide of the net.
The Buccaneers escaped with the 1-0 victory, improving to 5-2-0 in Atlantic Sun Conference playing and clinch a spot in the league tournament. Stetson, with a 2-4-1 league mark and seven points, remains tied with Lipscomb for the fifth spot in the championships.
The Hatters will conclude A-Sun play on the road at Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday. A win against the Eagles would put the Hatters into the A-Sun tournament, but depending on other outcomes in the final week of the season, SU still has a number of ways to claim a spot in the playoffs.