RICHMOND, Va. – Florida Gulf Coast University scored on a free kick near midfield with seven seconds remaining in double overtime and gave Virginia Commonwealth University a stunning 2-1 loss in its regular season opener Saturday evening at Sports Backers Stadium.
Florida Gulf Coast's Matthew O'Shaughnessy was awarded a free kick from the far right wing just inside VCU territory near midfield with a 1-1 tie and nine second showing in double-OT. The senior defender promptly lifted a shot and found the upper left corner of the net, just out of the reach of Rams' goalkeeper Josh Pantazelos for the win.
"I think we had some good moments tonight," said VCU Head Coach Dave Giffard. "In general, I thought we were a little unfortunate to not finish our chances sooner. We hit three posts. The guys did very well to create those chances but those will come. I was disappointed obviously with the result. You have to give a lot of credit to Florida Gulf Coast as I thought they fought very hard.
"For us it's a good start. We have a long way to go throughout the course of the season. It's important for our guys to learn lessons and it's important for us to get into competitive situations. I was really proud of the way our guys fought to the end."
Both teams generated several scoring opportunities during the first half in what proved to be an entertaining opening period.
VCU (0-1-0) nearly got on the board in the sixth minute when sophomore Yoram Mwila (right)sent a pass to senior Jake Van Yahres but Eagles goalkeeper Adam Glick came up with his first save of the night. Florida Gulf Coast countered less than three minutes later when Jonathan Koshko slid a pass just out of the reach of a streaking Cristian Raudales in front of the net.
Mwila teamed with Van Yahres (left) again to give VCU a 1-0 lead in the 16th minute after he took a cross from Van Yahres and found the net from nine yards out.
Deion Jones eventually scored the equalizer on a free kick for Florida Gulf Coast (2-0-0) in the 40th minute. Following a VCU foul, Jones hooked a shot from 30 yards away into the lower left of the net.
After battling for possession to start the second half, Koshko took a cross from Ryan Price in the 53rd minute and fired a point blank shot from 10 yards out but the VCU back line blocked the strike and preserved the tie.
Less than five minutes later, sophomore Alberto Fonseca caught fire and recorded his first shot of the season off a rebound but Glick again came up with a save.
Fonseca was at it again in the 60th minute when his pass to Van Yares in front of the goal just missed giving VCU the lead. Van Yares' tap snuck just wide right of the post. Fonseca continued to pressure the Eagles back line when he hit the left post from eight yards out three minutes later.
Senior C.J. Gehin-Scott then added to the Rams' offensive burden in the 69th minute when his strike from the top of the box hit the crossbar.
Florida Gulf Coast had a chance to win at the end of regulation but was called offside on a potential one-on-one with 30 seconds left.
After VCU spent much of the night in Florida Gulf Coast territory, the Eagles had a furry of corner kicks early in the overtime period and controlled most of the extra frames. However, VCU was able to apply pressure on several occasions, including when Fonseca fired a running strike high of the net as time expired in the first OT.
Mwila nearly ended it with a shot just over two minutes into the final overtime but it, too, sailed high of the net.
Glick kept the Rams off the board when he collected a save after senior Lucas Paulini lifted a running shot from 25 yards out with just under two minutes to go.
VCU is back in action on Monday at 2:30 p.m. against Coastal Carolina in the final game of the Richmond Marriott Classic presented by Adidas at Sports Backers Stadium.