Soccer men beat Mercer to advance in A-Sun playoffs

Andrew Nichols

UNF dominated Mercer through the first 65 to 70 minutes of the game, earning a penalty that would be the game winner scored in the 32nd minute.

UNF went into the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament with a possession mentality, according to head coach Derek Marinatos in a pre-game interview with Spinnaker Sports.

“For us its about not getting into an aerial battle with Mercer,” Marinatos said. “If we can keep possession then we can manage the game, but at the same time we have to take care of the counter attack.”

Though the first few minutes looked nervous for UNF, the team held to their game plan and out-possessed Mercer with a clear advantage, roughly 60 to 40 percent, through the first 70 minutes of the game.

Christopher Bush battles with a FGCU defender. The two teams will battle again in the second round. (Photo credit Garrett Haupt)
Christopher Bush battles with a FGCU defender. The two teams will battle again in the second round. (Photo credit Garrett Haupt)

Combination play from the Ospreys was abundant as multiple players were getting in on the attack. Links between Sean Young, Pedro Carneiro and Drew Spragg were the most noticeable as much of the attack went through them.

Pedro Carneiro was moved to the forward possession, something Marinatos said he did well throughout the week.

“Pedro did great to hold the ball for us,” Marinatos said. “He trained really well up top for us this week and it showed tonight.”

The goal came from the penalty spot after Christopher Bush found Sean Young inside the top of the box. Mercer keeper, Greg Ranjitsingh, came charging and took Young out from behind as the Osprey flicked the ball wide toward Carneiro.

Carneiro stepped to the spot in the 32nd minute and struck the ball into the right corner to put UNF up 1-0.

UNF’s defense held firm when called into action on possible counters as Mercer looked to put their 1st Team All-Conference forward Ehjayson Henry in on goal.

Mercer was unable to penetrate the UNF defense, only forcing four shots, though no clear effort on goal with the defense stepping to each chance.

UNF outshot the Bears 8-4 in the first half, but allowed them to triple that number by the end of the game.

When the 70th minute came around, momentum shifted in favor of Mercer.

Marinatos said the team defended well, but could’ve done better to possess and to get a second goal for more comfort.

“I thought we defended them very well, Brad came out with some big saves for us,” Marinatos said. “I thought we could’ve possessed better and waste time. We had a few balls that got in behind us and had to drop off even more which we didn’t want.”

Marinatos said the wind was a strong factor but thought his team did well to play into it, and that Mercer did the same.

A 10 minute run by Mercer earned them nearly five chances, forcing Sienkiewicz to come up big and the defense to stay composed.

Sienkiewicz ended the game with four saves to Ranjitsingh’s five.

With the win, UNF will play No. 1 seed and host team Florida Gulf Coast on Friday at 7 p.m. in the semifinal match.

The Ospreys lost to FCGU to close out their regular season and Marinatos said he thinks his team has what it takes to beat them.

“I think they had a tough time when we held our shape,” Marinatos said. “When we put pressure on them we got chances and they have some weakness at set pieces. If we can get some good chances then they may give up some goals.”

With the victory, the Ospreys advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic Sun Tournament for the first time in school history.