The NSU men’s soccer team (6-3-0, 2-1-0 SSC) continued to build on their chances of going to the Sunshine State Conference playoffs by upending the undefeated Lynn Fighting Knights (9-1-0, 4-1-0 SSC).
The Sharks beat the number one team in the country on Sept. 29, 1-0, thanks to freshman Stefano Fanfoni’s first collegiate-career goal in the 55th minute.
The men’s game was the second of a doubleheader hosted at the NSU Soccer Complex, coming after the women’s soccer team lost to Lynn, 1-0. Over the years, the Sharks had very little success against Lynn, losing the all time series, 3-26-4. This time, the men were able to gain their fourth win in school’s history over the Fighting Knights in front of a home crowd of 619 people.
“We were brilliant. We were able stick to the game plan for the entire game,” said Head Coach Giuseppe “Joe” DePalo.
The first half started off all in favor of the Fighting Knights. They led at the half with a total of 10 shots compared to the Sharks’ four, and had taken three corner kicks compared to the zero posted by NSU. What kept the Sharks in the game was that they had committed five less fouls than their counterparts and NSU’s goalkeeper, Andrea Giombetti, had made three crucial saves.
During the second half the Sharks seemed to become a quicker and more aggressive team, keeping up with the faster paced Fighting Knights. The Sharks saw themselves keep up with the amount of shots taken in the second half, being outshot by only two. Even though this was the first time all season the Sharks had been outshot, and the Fighting Knights had yet to allow a goal in Sunshine State Conference play, the Sharks were still able to score the only goal of the match.
Although they beat the number one team, DePalo is still humble about his team’s chances.
“We have to take it by a weekly basis being careful to not feel on top of the world but to use the momentum to finish the season strong,” he said.
The Sharks are ranked third in the SSC standings with a chance to gain a spot in the post-season. The remaining portion of the schedule will provide a tough challenge as the remaining ones are all critical conference games. Each game could help determine the fate of the Sharks. The games will include two away games against the University of Tampa and Florida Institute of Technology. The Sharks will also have three games on the home pitch against Eckerd College, Barry University and Rollins College.
Sophomore goalkeeper Andrea Giombetti is hopeful for the remainder of the season.
“We have been playing great. If we play how we did against Lynn, we can do great things but it will always be really hard work,” he said.
If the Sharks plan to finish this season strong and to build momentum for next season they will have to ensure that they stay healthy. There is a lot of inexperience on the NSU roster as there are seven freshman and four sophomore starters.
Coach DePalo hopes that with this young group of players the Sharks will be able to build their program over the next two to three years — getting better as they become both physically and mentally stronger.