FORT MYERS, Fla. - The FGCU men’s soccer team defeated the United States U-17 National Team 2-1 on Saturday at the FGCU Soccer Complex. A large, energized crowd was on-hand to watch the Eagles outlast the American squad in a thrilling exhibition.
The Eagles started strong, but allowed the Americans to get into a rhythm in the latter part of the first half. With the score tied at zero coming out of halftime, FGCU played with more creativity and flair and controlled a majority of the play. They created plenty of chances for themselves, but couldn’t find a way to get the ball into the back of the net. Halfway through the second stanza, the Americans created a goal off a cross, against the run of play, but FGCU continued to play with the same confidence and created more opportunities on the attacking end.
A free kick from the right flank proved to be the game-changer as Francesco DiStefano whipped in an incredibly dangerous ball on the American goalkeeper, but Cristian Raudales got there first. After making the initial save, the US keeper had no chance at the rebound that Raudales buried to tie the game, 1-1.
FGCU continued to prove dangerous when Distefano split two defenders at midfield and found a seam for an on-running Jonathan Hohn who was taken down in the box for a penalty kick. Manuel Gonzalez stepped to the spot, but luck was not on his side as he dinged the shot off the post. Gonzalez would get his revenge, however. In the final minutes of the game, goalkeeper Adam Glick came strongly off his line to clear a long ball to Matt O’Shaughnessy, who held it up before cleverly sending Taylor Sullivan behind the US defense. Sullivan pulled a perfect ball across the face of the goal to an on-running Gonzalez, who tucked away the ball and the victory with a single touch.
FGCU finished the week 2-0 after defeating the Venezuelan U-17 national team on Monday night, bringing the squad’s spring record to 5-1. The Eagles will be back in action at the FGCU Soccer Complex next weekend against Eckerd College.
The FGCU men’s and women’s soccer teams, in coordination with the Boys and Girls Club of Bonita Springs, also hosted a clinic and the Junior Olympic Skills Competition before Saturday night’s match. The event, like match against the US team, was a complete success.