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LAKELAND, Fla.- In an NAIA Top-20 and Sun Conference showdown, the No. 16 Southeastern University men’s soccer team rose to the challenge to defeat the No. 13 St. Thomas University Bobcats 2-0. SEU improved to 7-0-1 on the season and 2-0 in TSC play.
“We knew it was going to be a big match-up and the boys are always up for conference play,” commented SEU head coach Clay Roberts. “We came out in the first half and executed our game plan very well.”
The Fire netted both of their goals within the first 25 minutes of play.
First, senior forward Craig Barker successfully converted a penalty kick in the 14th minute to put the Fire on the board 1-0. The tally was his second of the season.
Next, graduate forward Jake Van Der Luit continued his scoring surplus, netting his conference-leading 11th goal of the season in the 24th minute off great build-up play from graduate midfielder Banabas Ganidekam and senior center back James Paylor.
The Fire outshot the Bobcats 8-5 in the first half, taking their 2-0 lead into the locker room at the half.
Senior goalkeeper Logan Whitney was dynamic in goal, leading the Fire defensive unit to hold steady against the Bobcats in the second half as they attempted to rally. Whitney recorded five of his seven saves in the second half.
“I didn’t feel like I made a lot of saves,” shared Whitney. “I feel like I owned the box. I came out, punched the ball and from there played from the back. The team confidence is what gave me confidence out there.”
Despite being outshot 9-4 in the second 45 minutes of play, the SEU back line stood firm and held the shutout for the full 90.
The Fire look to keep their rhythm in Sun Conference play, as they welcome receiving votes Keiser University to the SEU Soccer Complex on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.