Men’s soccer concedes last-minute goal, draws in heartbreaking fashion versus Bellarmine

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

The University of North Florida (UNF) men’s soccer team gave up two points in quite possibly the most brutal way imaginable on Saturday, with Bellarmine University scoring a goal with just 36 seconds remaining to produce a 1-1 draw.

Agony was abundant among the Ospreys, as sounds of shouts and slamming doors rang through the crisp fall air at Hodges Stadium following the match. One could easily mistake that they had lost, but giving up an outright win so late might be just as painful.

The first half didn’t produce much excitement, with the Bellarmine Knights dominating possession. This didn’t carry over into the second half, largely thanks to adjustments that UNF head coach Derek Marinatos spoke about postgame.

“We didn’t feel like we were competing at the level we needed to, which is what ramped up in the second half,” Marinatos said. “I think creating a chance early in the second half gave us some life.”

Soccer players celebrate a goal
The celebration following the opening goal was one for the ages, but this elation didn’t last long. (David Heitz)

Opportunities came and went, but the best of these arrived in the 72nd minute. UNF midfielder Braden Masker sent a crosser into the box, where confusion consumed the Bellarmine defense. Rio Onwumere took advantage, scoring the first goal of his young career.

Coach Marinatos sees this goal from the newcomer as a reflection of the strong locker room the Ospreys have worked to build.

“It’s been a phenomenal freshmen class,” Marinatos said. “I’m proud of him in that moment to step up.”

Now leading 1-0, UNF found themselves in control with just under twenty minutes remaining in the match. The Knights kicked it into high gear, though, putting immense pressure on the Ospreys’ back line. 

UNF player lurks as Bellarmine player goes to receive pass
Joaquin Acuna (21) was all over the pitch Saturday, finding himself involved in multiple scoring opportunities. (David Heitz)

The barrage continued, but UNF goalkeeper Micah Gun put a stop to everything that came his way. Time was winding down, but this one was far from over.

With just 36 ticks left on the clock, the unthinkable happened. Bellarmine midfielder Jack Fischer launched a crosser to the outskirts of the box, where defender Teagan Dunne snuck it past Gun to knot things up 1-1.

Things weren’t done just yet, though, as the Ospreys still had an inkling of time to jump back ahead. No quality chances arose, leaving UNF with the only thing as gut-wrenching as a loss: a draw. Having what appeared to be a surefire win snatched away so late is understandably frustrating.

Players could be seen in anguish over the result, but after talking with his squad, Coach Marinatos acknowledged the shortcoming, but also pointed to positivity.

“It feels like a loss because we gave away the game that we had three points in,” Marinatos said. “The message is [that] we’re unbeaten in five- we haven’t lost in five games in a row.”

Soccer player throws the ball into play
Instead of dwelling on the negative, Coach Marinatos wants his team to see the progress they’ve made. (David Heitz)

In a conference as competitive as the ASUN, every point is crucial. A win is awarded with three points, while a draw only results in one point for both teams involved. With Saturday’s result, the Ospreys still sit in seventh place, while Bellarmine moves to third. 

With just four regular season fixtures remaining, the upcoming stretch will be crucial for UNF. The Ospreys will once again be in action next Saturday, when they take on league-leading Lipscomb. 

A win in this showdown with the Bison could be just what it takes for UNF to move up the table, and put the rest of the conference on notice.


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