Fort Myers, Fla. – No. 2 FGCU secured its berth to the 2016 ASUN Conference Men's Soccer Championship Final with a Golden Goal from Rielee Mohsin in the first minute of double overtime. The Eagles defeated Lipscomb 3-2 tonight, and await the winner of Sunday's second semifinal between North Florida and Jacksonville.
Mohsin found himself wide open on the far post in the 101st minute and headed a Justin Gavin cross into the open net to set off wild celebrations at the FGCU Soccer Complex. Albert Ruiz scored two goals in regulation for the Eagles, while Logan Paynter and Cameron Botes had the tallies for the Bisons.
The Bisons were the aggressor from the opening whistle as they put pressure on the FGCU defense. Josue Chavez had the opening chance three minutes into the match as his shot rattled the cross bar from inside the box. A few minutes later Ivan Alvarado sent a free kick just over the bar. It took until the 28th minute, but the Bisons were rewarded for their consistent pressure. A free kick from Eduardo Reza bounced in the box and fell to top-scorer Logan Paynter, who settled with his first touch and drove the ball low and hard through multiple bodies for the 1-0 lead.
The Eagles needed a response, and turned to the 2016 ASUN Player of the Year eight minutes later to find that response. Albert Ruiz finished a lightning counter attack for his 18th goal of the season and the 1-1 equalizer in the 35th minute. Dennis Zapata played a through ball to Arion Sobers-Assue who laid the ball off to Ruiz at the top of the box, and the striker finished off the inside of the right post.
FGCU carried that momentum into the opening 15 minutes of the second half as they pressed for the lead. Sobers-Assue had a golden opportunity in the 50th minute when he was 1-on-1 with Christopher Zappia, but the Bisons keeper made a great stop to keep the match tied. Miguel Perez crossed a great ball a few minutes later, but no Eagle could reach the ball at the far post.
In the 61st minute, the pressure finally paid off and again it was the nation's leading scorer giving FGCU the lead. Ruiz gathered a pass from Zapata and dribbled 25 yards out towards the Bisons net. Ruiz then took a left-footed shot from just outside the box and curled it into the bottom left corner for the 2-1 Eagles lead.
That lead lasted less than two minutes as the Bisons once again used a set piece to score their second goal of the night. A scramble off a free kick saw FGCU keeper Jared Brown come out of his net, but he wasn't able to clear the ball far enough as Paynter passed to an open Cameron Botes inside the box and the defender scored into the empty net to knot the match at 2-2. Both sides continued to push in regulation for a winner, with Lipscomb coming closest in the 82nd minute, when Scout Monteith's shot was stopped from point-blank range by Brown. The game remained tied 2-2 as we headed to overtime.
In the first extra period, FGCU had two good opportunities as Gavin and Sobers-Assue saw efforts go inches wide of the post. The Bisons absorbed some pressure and looked to break on the counter attack, but were unable to mount any clear-cut opportunities in the first overtime. The match remained tied at 2-2 as we played a second overtime period.
It took only 46 seconds in the second overtime period to find the Golden Goal. Gavin sent a long looping cross towards the box. Shak Adams battled in the air with Lipscomb's keeper Zappia and the ball found its way to Mohsin at the back post who headed the ball into an unguarded net for the game-winner.
No. 2 FGCU advances to its fourth ASUN Championship Final, first since 2014 when they won the title. The 2016 ASUN Championship Final takes place next Saturday, Dec. 12th at the highest remaining seed. The Eagles await the winner of Sunday's second semifinal match featuring No. 1 North Florida and No. 5 Jacksonville. The River City Rivalry match kicks off at 7 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 6th.
No. 2 FGCU vs. No. 3 Lipscomb Semifinal Notes
- Tonight's match was the third-straight ASUN Championship Semifinal to go to overtime. Both semifinals in last season's championship went into extra time. For FGCU, it was the first ASUN Championship overtime match since 2012, while Lipscomb played in the semifinals last year.
- ASUN Player of the Year, Albert Ruiz scored twice tonight to give him 19 goals on the season, the most in the country. Tonight's match marked his fifth multi-goal match of the season.
- Rielee Mohsin's second goal of his FGCU career tonight was also his first game-winning goal. His goal gives FGCU 10 matches this season with three or more goals scored, best in the nation.
- Logan Paynter continued his hot scoring stretch as he netted his 11th goal of the season and sixth in the last seven matches for the Bisons. Paynter scored in both ASUN Championship matches this season.
- Cameron Botes became the 12th Lipscomb player to score a goal this season. Tonight's 2-2 equalizer was his first career goal in his 55th career match for the Bisons.