FORT MYERS, Fla. –– In a hostile road environment (FGCU’s Soccer Complex), No. 7 Palm Beach Atlantic (12-1) outlasted No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast (11-3) in a classic rivalry game, 18-13.
Although the first 150 fans received cowbells, it was the Sailfish faithful that had something to cheer about first–––a Joe Ciringione goal from Bobby Hantske.
From there, it was all Florida Gulf Coast, who took a 4-1 lead on a Kevin Meyer goal that led to a PBA timeout. After scoring man-up, PBA fell into a tight spot, trailing 6-2 and later 7-3. A small run gave the ‘Fish life heading into halftime on goals from Ciringione and Colin Price (2).
In the second half, the Palm Beach Atlantic offense exploded for twelve more goals on a highly touted defense. FGCU’s defense came into Thursday night’s game averaging only 5.6 goals allowed per game.
The helpful offensive measure was boosted by the Sailfish defensive efforts, lead by senior goalie Ryan Talks, who finished with 15 saves.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Colin Price is the player of the game for the second time in a row. After a clutch performance against Georgia Southern, the junior followed with a four goal, two assist performance on Thursday night against FGCU. His timely goals and smart assisting came at key times in the game, helping PBA climb out of a deficit, take the lead, or hold onto the lead many times.
UNSUNG HERO OF THE GAME
Senior attackman Joe Ciringione picked up what may be the quietest ten point performance in Sailfish history. Having four goals and six helpers, Ciringione quarterbacked the offense and easily navigated the attempted shut on teammate Dominic Scalzo. Ciringione’s incredible finishing and feeding ability what just what PBA needed to turn the game in their favor.
His prowess on extra-man opportunities helped FGCU pay for their penalties; he finished with two goals and three assists on EMO alone.
Ciringione’s ten points are the fourth time he has scored 10 points or more in a Sailfish uniform. The other times?
February 17, 2013 at Emmanuel College (11); April 19, 2012 at University of Miami (10); February 5, 2011 vs Liberty University (11).
TURNING POINT OF THE GAME
From 3:09 to 1:02 in the third quarter, PBA swung a 10-8 deficit into a 12-10 lead. The four goals that came in rapid succession were capped by Colin Price and Joe Ciringione goals that were just eighteen seconds apart.
In the fourth quarter, PBA continued to carry its’ momentum, scoring twice to expand the lead even further. PBA outscored FGCU 6-3 in the final stanza to ice-away the victory for head coach Chris Southard.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Following an FGCU goal (Danny Meyer) that cut the lead to 15-12 with 8:13 remaining, the Eagles gained possession again thanks to a scrum which ensued following the face-off. The ball popped up and into the stick of Vinny Valentine, who flipped the ball across crease to a wide open and waiting Victor Porter.
Porter’s one-on-one crease opportunity was saved by senior goalie Ryan Talks. The phenomenal save which saved the lead would have been good enough to stand on its’ own, but Talks was not done. He chased down his own rebound and sprinted the length of the defensive end before passing to Colin Price. Following one minute of Sailfish possession, junior Dominic Scalzo buried another goal to finish the excellent hustle play.
SLINGIN’ IN THE RAIN
After an uneventful start to warmups, a large storm cell moved through the Fort Myers area, dropping 0.41″ of rain before game time. Although any further rain held off until the latter stages of the fourth quarter, both teams adjusted to the soggy socks and baggy shorts and played without any issue.
Thursday’s 18-13 win for the No. 7 Sailfish is PBA’s biggest over FGCU since the inception of the rivalry in 2009 (PBA won that game, 18-8). It is also the highest scoring output for PBA since 2009 as well.
Palm Beach Atlantic is now 4-1 all time against Florida Gulf Coast.
WHAT’S ON TAP
Thursday’s win clinched another playoff berth for the Sailfish, meaning they’ve earned the right to take on No. 4 Liberty University in the quarterfinals of the SELC Tournament. It’s a battle of top ten teams, and the fun begins at 5:30 p.m. (site TBD). Also of note, the winner of PBA/Liberty will face the winner of Emory/The Citadel in the semifinals.