|USF Ends Stetson's Season in NCAA 1st Round|
Brustad Runs the flank against the Bulls on Thursday.
Courtesy: Stetson University
Tampa, Fla. - With just over a minute remaining Stetson's All-Freshman Team member Jonathan Mendoza (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) ripped a left footer that sailed just over the top right corner of the goal. As it turned out it was the last opportunity of the season for the Atlantic Sun Conference champions.
In the game the University of South Florida Bulls (14-3-3) scored twice on headers and defeated Stetson 2-1 in the first round of the NCAA Championship Tournament. The Hatters (14-4-2) played hard, performed well, and represented their conference proudly.
"We didn't give it away. We had to fight, bite and chew", said Stetson head coach T. Logan Fleck. "I have to give it to them. Give USF credit."
Much to the excitement of the many Stetson fans in attendance, the Hatters jumped out to an early lead in the 8th minute of play. With Stetson pressuring USF on a counter attack, Fredrik Brustad pounced on a rebound and delivered a one-time blast to the back of the net from 10 yards out.
USF responded by stepping up the pressure and then answered in the 14th minute of a set piece. Sebastian Thuriere (St. Petersburg, Fla.) positioned himself perfectly in the back of the box and ripped a header off a corner by Javed Mohammed (LaRomain, Trinidad).
After the teams battled back and forth for another 30 minutes USF scored the go-ahead goal at 43:07 on another header. Mohammed crossed a pass through the box to Bernardo Anor (Caracas, Venezuela) who finished the play and delivered what turned out to be the game-winner. The second half went scoreless.
"We didn't execute well enough on the head balls", said Stetson goalkeeper Logan Potter (Merritt Island, Fla.). "That is something we have done really well all season."
Although the Hatters played well and had its chances to win the game, in the end USF held the advantage in shots 15-7, and more importantly 10-3 in corner kicks.
"We stayed in our game and got good crosses and chances at the net", said Fleck. "Our kids played with a lot of heart tonight. I couldn't be more proud of these young men. They left it on the field."
This was Stetson's second appearance in an NCAA Tournament game. In 1995 Stetson played this same USF program in Tampa and fell by a score of 3-0. The same score that the Bulls defeated the Hatters by earlier this year in the preseason. The effort tonight showed how far this program has come over the course of a season.
Brustad's goal was the first-ever goal in an NCAA Tournament game by a Stetson player.
Tonight's game signals the end of the prolific careers of Stetson seniors Robert Hodge (A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year), Kevin Munz (First Team All-Conference), Griffin Gilstrap (First Team All-Conference) and Set Carpintero. Although the future is bright under Coach Fleck, they will be dearly missed.
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