Men’s soccer can’t convert on plethora of chances, fall to Georgia Southern

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

Missed opportunities have plagued the University of North Florida (UNF) team throughout the opening stages of the season, something that yet again stung the Ospreys in a 1-0 loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles on Tuesday.

The Ospreys returned to on-campus action at Hodges Stadium for the first time in nearly three weeks. The season has gotten off to a rocky start, with UNF starting out 0-4 after going head-to-head with some of the state’s top teams. Tuesday presented an opportunity for a fresh start, though. Unfortunately for the blue and gray, this fresh start never came to fruition.

The main reason for UNF’s lack of success has been an absence of scoring. Going into Tuesday’s duel, the team had scored only one goal in their first four games. It would be easy to write this off as an indicator of a poor offense, but that simply isn’t the case. Match in and match out, the Ospreys have created plenty of scoring chances. Simply finding the back of the net has been near impossible for the squad.

UNF soccer player prepares to kick the ball downfield.
Scoring was a struggle yet again for the Ospreys in Tuesday’s loss to Georgia Southern. (Justin Nedrow)

This was evident from the get-go, with the Ospreys coming close to cracking the scoring open in the early minutes of the game. Perhaps the best of these came in the fifth minute when UNF forward Bryson Smith sent a well-placed centering pass into the box. However, it was snuffed out by Georgia Southern goalkeeper Dagoberto Romero before UNF could do anything with it.

A close call came with just over ten minutes remaining in the first half when Georgia Southern’s Samuel Odame sent one just over the crossbar. Thanks to a matter of inches, the game remained scoreless. It would stay this way through the conclusion of the first half.

With the Ospreys sending a barrage of shots in the first half, it seemed as though a goal was bound to happen sometime soon. Fans jumped to their feet in the 56th minute, when a corner kick found its way to UNF midfielder Luto Tom’s head. In what would come back to haunt them, the redirected ball did not make its way into the net.

This situation was no outlier, though. Chance after chance, but nothing to show for it. With just over 20 minutes remaining, there was a sensible shift in momentum in favor of the Eagles. Surely enough, Georgia Southern defender Alex Smith sent a screamer past the keeper to take the lead in the 70th minute. 

Now down with the clock ticking, UNF had to do something. Head coach Derek Marinatos addressed this postgame.

“We put two [strikers] up front […] you get a little more direct,” Marinatos said. “I thought we got the ball into some good spots.”

UNF soccer player works the touchline before booting the ball away.
UNF forward Herbie Steigelman has been a key part in the Ospreys creating a staggering number of chances on offense. (Justin Nedrow)

The change in approach was clearly visible as the Ospreys lit a fire under goalkeeper Romero. With less than two minutes remaining, UNF put the ball just about everywhere but the back of the net. Whether it be bouncing off the keeper, the post or the crossbar, the potential equalizing goal never happened. 

Georgia Southern survived one final onslaught to hold onto to a 1-0 win. With this latest result, the Ospreys fall to 0-5 on the season with only one goal to their name. Following the festival of frustration, Coach Marinatos had a lengthy talk with his team on the field. He’s not one to let his players dwell on the negative, though, but will rather look to upcoming fixtures as a chance for redemption.

“It’s a heartbreaker at home but the reality is we play Stetson at home on Saturday and if you win that game, you’re 1-1 and you’re in the middle of the league ,” Marinatos said. “The season’s far from over […] we’ve just had a really slow start.”

Finding goals of any kind, preferably in the first half, will be what UNF strives for in the near future. Saturday’s home duel with a Stetson squad who is fresh off a pair of draws against quality opponents in California will provide a great opportunity for the Ospreys to get on the right track. 

The goals will come. The shots will fall. This too shall pass.


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