Tulsa opens conference play with 2-0 win against FAU

Sports writer Aiman Fariz Zaqwan Bin Akmal Hizam discusses soccer’s victory.
The TU Golden Hurricanes traveled east to Florida for their highly anticipated conference opener against the Florida Atlantic University Owls on Saturday evening. The stakes were high as TU aimed to continue their winning momentum, having narrowly clinched a 4-3 victory against Drake in their previous match on home turf last Saturday. On the other hand, host FAU was determined to break a streak of disappointment, having suffered four consecutive loss games. The Owls were hungry for a victory and aimed to use their home advantage to turn the tide in their favor.

Coach Tom McIntosh maintained a 4-2-3-1 formation and made four changes to the starting 11 that faced Drake, with Luke Jeffus coming in place of Takayoshi Wyatt on the right flank, Victor Thompson replacing Paul Richnow as the left center back, Mikey Morales starting as a central midfielder in place of Tom Protzek, and Camilo Vargas replacing Will Edwards as the starting right back. Meanwhile, Coach Joey Forthen of FAU stuck with his starting eleven, only changing the initial 4-2-3-1 formation to a flat 4-4-2.

The atmosphere was electric as fans from both sides gathered in anticipation of this clash. The referee blew his whistle for the start of the first half, and the hosts, playing in their white jerseys, got the ball rolling.

The Golden Hurricanes adhered to their possession-based playing style, favoring a play-from-the-back approach, which allowed them to dominate possession for the majority of the match. Their offensive strategies frequently revolved around utilizing the flanks, for they sought to execute precise crosses and well-timed cutbacks towards the center of the field to connect with Malik Henry-Scott, who had been a constant threat in front of the goal.

The opening goal arrived at the brink of halftime. It all began with Jared Aguilar’s ambitious long-range shot, which encountered a formidable FAU defense, resulting in TU earning their fifth corner of the evening. Sergio Baena stepped up to take the kick and his precision was on full display as he sent the ball towards the far post, only to see it headed back in his direction. Baena played a through ball to Edwards, who returned a swift cutback to the near post to find Bowen McCloud. McCloud remained calm under the pressure and tapped the ball into the net, securing his first goal of the season and TU’s first goal of the night. The referee blew his whistle for the end of the first 45 minutes and the Golden Hurricanes led the Owls 1-0 at halftime.

The second half kicked off with TU getting the ball rolling. They wasted no time launching their attacks, eager to extend their lead. However, FAU was equally determined, launching their own offensive efforts as they sought to find the equalizer and narrow the goal margin. It set the stage for an intense battle on the field as both teams vied for control and supremacy.

In the 85th minute, a remarkable long through lob attempt from Alvaro Torrijos pierced through FAU’s defense and met Henry-Scott, who raced down the right flank, infiltrating the Owls’ penalty area. With limited options forward, he made a pass back to Mike Eijgendaal, who kept his cool and unleashed a powerful strike into FAU’s goal, doubling TU’s lead.

As the clock ticked down, FAU continued their relentless efforts to launch attacks and mitigate the damage, hopeful of a breakthrough that could narrow the score gap. On the other hand, TU remained resolute in their pursuit of another goal to further solidify their lead. Despite their best attempts, neither team managed to alter the standing score. The final whistle blew, and the Golden Hurricanes prevailed over Florida with a 2-0 victory against the Owls.

Both teams will now shift their attention towards their next matches as TU will welcome Creighton to the Hurricane Soccer Stadium on Tuesday, September 19, while FAU will travel to DeLand to play Stetson.

Post Author: Aiman Akmal Hizam