Saturday, November 08, 2008
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - In fitting fashion, senior Mikhail Awai sparked a second-half offensive surge for the University of North Florida men’s soccer team in its season finale and senior day, and sophomore Adam O’Neill added two goals to lift the Ospreys over Coastal Carolina at Hodges Stadium on Saturday and give UNF its highest win total since making the transition into Division I.
“We have certainly improved each season,” UNF head coach Ray Bunch said. “And that is what we aim for each season. We would have liked to get out win total in double digits, but we like the progress we’ve made and will look to continue that trend next season.”
UNF (9-10-0) and Coastal Carolina (8-8-1) battled to a scoreless tie at halftime with the Chanticleers taking six shots, compared to just three by the Ospreys. However, mid-way through the second half, Awai untied the knotted score on a somewhat surprising free kick.
The free kick was set up by a foul that occurred one yard outside the middle of the top of the box during an Osprey attack. The ball was set and ready for play but both teams seemed to be setting their respective plays when Awai swooped in and took the kick. The ball made its way through the unexpecting defense and past keeper Phillip Latham, who was also unprepared for Awai’s surprise.
“It was a very clever play,” Bunch said. “We have seen so often this season that the team that scores the first goal really takes all the momentum. That is what happened with us today.”
The play ignited the UNF squad, which extended its lead a little more than 10 minutes later. On one of the many Osprey runs into Chanticleer territory, sophomore Akil DeFreitas made a pass from the left side of the net to O’Neill, who took a shot from one yard out of the right side of the net, running the score to 2-0.
With less than six minutes left to play, O’Neill found himself in a one-on-one situation with Latham after taking a long pass and dribbling down the middle of the field from 35 yards. Latham came out about 10 yards but could not slow O’Neill and a shot from the left side of the net boosted UNF’s lead to 3-0.
Senior keeper Tony Restino finished the match with five saves, but saw much more action that that stat might indicate. He played a vital role in keeping the Chanticleers off the scoreboard during 10 corner kicks and came out to make several plays on crosses and loose balls.