FORT MYERS, Fla. -
The FGCU men’s soccer defeated the Venezuelan U-17 National Team on Monday night by a score of 3-2 at the FGCU Soccer Complex. A raucous crowd was on hand to witness the fast-paced, high-scoring affair that saw the Eagles outlast the Venezuelans, who are in the midst of preparing for World Cup qualification.
FGCU got things rolling in the opening moments as Francesco DiStefano picked off a pass in the midfield, beat a Venezuelan defender and whipped a service to Josey Portillo who tucked a volley into the side netting with the outside of his foot just 15 seconds into the game. The Venezuelans struck back less than two minutes later, bending a free kick into the net from 20 yards out. Almost immediately, FGCU struck back when a deflected DiStefano free kick found Cristian Raudales at the back post, who roped a side volley past the Venezuelan goalkeeper.
With a 2-1 score just five minutes into the match, both teams continued to play with flair and created a number of scoring opportunities. The Venezuelans were the next to strike when a free kick from the end line was fired across the six-yard box and found its way into the roof of the FGCU net. The scoring was rounded out before halftime when Jon Koshko combined with Manny Gonzalez to get in behind the Venezuelan backline before being taken down in the box. Gonzalez stepped to the ball assertively and put the penalty kick in the back of the net for a 3-2 lead.
That game remained fast and entertaining, as both teams looked to solve the game as opposed to simply outrun the other squad. The Eagles played with passion and maturity, closing out the game against a very talented Venezuelan group.
The FGCU men’s soccer program would like to thank the Venezuelan Football Federation for making the trip to Fort Myers and being such gracious guests and opponents.
The Eagles take the FGCU Soccer Complex field again on Saturday night against the United States U17 National Team. Kickoff is set for 6:30 pm.