Positively Promoting the Student Athlete Since 1992

LAKELAND, Fla.—The Fire men’s soccer team fell to the Georgia Gwinnett College Grizzlies by a score of 4-0 in the NAIA National Tournament Opening Round. With the defeat, Southeastern finished a notable year with a 12-4-2 overall record.
In the first ever men’s soccer opening round game held in Lakeland, GGC controlled the majority of the play for the initial 25 minutes. A quick goal in the 12th minute by the Grizzlies had the Fire chasing the game from the onset.
Georgia Gwinnett followed up their first tally with a strike just two minutes later to double their lead. GGC held an 8-1 shot advantage heading into the half, maintaining possession and holding SEU to a single shot.
The Fire responded with better offensive chances in the second half, outshooting the Grizzlies 11-7 and producing six second-half corner kicks to Gwinnett’s zero; however, GGC stretched the lead with a pair of late goals on the counterattack.
As Southeastern tried to climb back into the competition, the squad generated a series of excellent opportunities, none of which fell in SEU’s favor. In the 70th minute, Craig Barker fired an absolute rocket from 25 yards out that struck the inside of the post, narrowly avoiding the back of the net. Joey Dotson then forced a Gwinnett save with a shot on frame in the 73rd minute, which tested Matija Gligorovic.
In the end, the Fire sent a plethora of shots just wide of the frame, but were unable to find the scoresheet, leading to the four-goal deficit. Ben-Avir Espinal led SEU with three shots, while Noah Richmond and Barker each created a pair of scoring chances.
Head Coach Clay Roberts said, “I am extremely proud of our team and how hard they worked this season. We knew Georgia Gwinnett was a tough challenge and they executed a couple of high-quality goals early that hurt us.”
The difference in the contest came through Georgia Gwinnett’s ability to finish quality chances. The Grizzlies put ten of their 15 shots on frame, creating four goals. Fire goalkeeper Logan Whitney stood tall in the net, making six saves, but GGC’s offense proved too much to handle on the night.
Omar Thali and Michael Weber each had a goal and an assist to guide GGC to the Round of 16. The Grizzlies will now advance to play the No. 1 seed William Carey in Irvine, California.
The Fire advanced to the National Tournament for the second time in program history, winning the Sun Conference Tournament for the first time since 2015.
“I am thankful for each of the young men on this team, especially our seniors who have invested so much in this program and are leaving a legacy greater than themselves,” concluded Roberts.