Senior Kai Eckenrode scored three goals to lead the Stetson
men's soccer team (3-7-2, 2-3-1 A-Sun) to a 3-2 victory over North Florida
(3-12-0, 0-6-0 A-Sun) on Friday evening in an Atlantic Sun Conference "Coaches
vs. Cancer" match.
With Hurricane Sandy causing winds of over 25 miles per hour
at the Stetson University Athletics Training Center on Friday, many were
wondering whether the weather would delay this game's start. In an effort to get the contest in before the
storm hit the area, the Hatters and the Ospreys kicked off 15 minutes earlier
than the scheduled 7:00 pm start time.
It was just over 14 minutes later that Eckenrode put Stetson
on the board. The forward, who came into
the game leading the Hatters with two goals on the season, stole the ball from
UNF and beat Osprey goalkeeper Brad Sienkiewics, who came running out to
prevent the one-v-one attempt for Stetson.
Eckenrode simply played the ball around the keeper and scored on the
open net to give the Hatters a 1-0 lead early in the match.
Playing without senior captain Luis Ocejo, who was sitting
the game out after receiving a red card late in the last match, the Stetson
defense gave up a pair of early goals to North Florida. Alex Morrell and Camilo Garcia scored in the
19th and 28th minute respectively to give the ospreys a
2-1 lead and hopes of a fourth win on the season.
Less than four minutes later Eckenrode halted the UNF
momentum with his second goal of the night.
When junior Raffaele Centofanti beat a defender, carried the ball to the
end line, and crossed it into the box, it was Eckenrode who got on the end of
it, and one-touched it to the far post.
The score in the 32nd minute tied the game at 2-2 going into
After the break the Stetson defense buckled down, and kept
UNF off the board for the entire 45 minutes.
Centofanti, junior JJ Bostic, sophomore JJ Lofthouse-Smith, and junior
Chris Aguirre each played nearly the full 90 minutes, and stepped up without
Ocejo, last year's A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year.
The Hatters still needed to score to earn the three points
in league play, and it was Eckenrode who was in the right place at the right
time once again. This time the senior
received a pass from classmate Jonathan Mendoza, who found Eckenrode open in
the middle of the box. The forward
controlled the ball, and placed his shot perfectly to the far post and put
Stetson on top for good.
The Ospreys didn't give up, and Stetson faced a number of
challenges from UNF in the final 27 minutes of action. North Florida's best opportunity came right
after Stetson took the lead, but a shot from only 10 yards out was stopped by a
diving save from junior Andreas Schnabl, preserving the Hatter lead.
Stetson outshot UNF by a mark of 20-9, and recorded six
corner kicks to the Ospreys' one.
Schnabl finished with three saves in the win, while Sienkiewicz totaled
five in the defeat.
"Sometimes bringing home a win no matter what actually makes
a team feel good about themselves," Head Coach T. Logan Fleck said. "When you
see success, you can say to your team, - See, you did it. Now we need to do it
a lot more."
The Hatters will next host ETSU in their final home game of
the season. The Senior Day match is
scheduled for 1:00 pm on Sunday.
Mendoza, Ocejo, Eckenrode, Joakim Helland, and Caleb Matthews will be
recognized for their great careers prior to kickoff.