PHILADELPHIA – A valiant effort from Penn to match Florida Gulf Coast despite playing down a man for the majority of the match went for naught on Friday night, as the Eagles tallied a goal in the final minute of the first overtime to down the Quakers, 3-2, at Rhodes Field.
Stephen Baker was issued two yellow cards before the match was 24 minutes old, putting the Red and Blue at a man disadvantage quickly. Those yellows were part of a litany of bookings in the match, with eight different yellow cards issued as two teams who had never met previously went toe-to-toe.
Just under 10 minutes after Baker was sent off, FGCU struck first on a Santiago Echeverri goal in the 32nd minute. Skylar Wilks crossed in a ball from the left flank, and Echeverri got just enough on it with his head to find the inside of the right post.
Four and a half minutes later, the Quakers tied the match on a goal from Sam Hayward. The freshman was alone on the right post, and he softly slipped a shot past the keeper off an assist from a Louis Schott flick.
Penn found itself behind early in the second half following a goal by Luis Vega in the 52nd minute. On a FGCU free kick following a foul two yards outside the penalty area, Vega curled a ball to the left post to give the Eagles their second lead of the night.
The Red and Blue would again show their mettle, rallying for a second time while short a man. Duke Lacroix was the goal scorer this time, easily tapping in a ball at the goal line in the 68th minute. Louis Schott started the play from about 30 yards out, finding Matt Poplawski down the right side. The freshman lunged into the ball, sliding it through the keeper and toward goal. Lacroix ensured there were no issues, stepping into the ball to tie the match.
The Eagles carried the brunt of play after the Quakers tied the match, forcing Tyler Kinn to come up big in goal for Penn. He made two saves following Lacroix’s tying goal – part of a six-save night. His biggest save came in the 83’ when he denied Isiah Madrid from in tight. In the final moments of regulation, the Quakers had a chance to beat the clock and steal a win. Sophomore Forrest Clancy, in his first appearance after recovering from a knee injury suffered early last season, had a run down the left in the final ten seconds, but his offering was just outside the far post and proceedings moved to overtime.
Clancy had a chance in the 94’ to ice the game, but his boot was blocked. The shot resulted in a corner for Penn, but the Red and Blue were unable to mount a true attack off the set piece. Madrid would counter for the Eagles, but Kinn was up to the challenge for his final save of the night.
With time winding down in the first overtime, Echeverri knocked down a ball at the top of the box and slid it to Felipe DeSousa on the run. FGCU’s leading scorer had all the room he needed, and his low shot just beat Kinn’s hands to clinch the first win of the season for Florida Gulf Coast.
The Quakers are back in action on Rhodes Field Sunday at noon against Florida International.