MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. ( Nov. 17, 2022) – Seventy-nine minutes into Florida National’s opening round match of the NAIA Tournament, the Conquistadors found themselves tied 0-0 against the running Eagles of Life University. With all signs pointing towards overtime or a potential penalty shootout, what followed was an onslaught of goals on both sides solidifying a 4-2 FNU victory and a berth to the second-round match Saturday against No. 7 St. Thomas University.
In the first half, both teams played the majority of their contest in the middle of the field. FNU only had three shots in the first half while life had gotten off ten toward goalkeeper Victor Ruiz. The Conquistador’s goalkeeper collected five saves in the contest as both teams retied the half scoreless. With a new period of 45 minutes in the works, FNU finally had a breakthrough on a beautiful header from Matias Leaniz at the 79-minute mark on a cross from the right side of the pitch by Marcos Bakale. Leaniz’s goal opened the floodgates as he scored another goal to make it 2-0 just three minutes later. Striker Fransisco Crimi saw his chance to close the door on the running eagles with a goal of his own with six minutes left to play.
Despite being down 3-0, the running eagles were not going away as Luciano Diaz connected on the running eagles’ first goal of the match and quickly ran to the midfield to get play underway as soon as possible. Artur Palmeira managed to put more daylight between FNU and Life with a stellar strike that went right over the head of goalkeeper Luka Zakarija. A penalty kick by life’s Bart Kooistra after a foul by FNU in the area gave the Running Eagles a much-needed second goal for the contest, but it was not enough to get past the Conquistadors.
Florida National ended the match with four corner kicks and 13 shots. Life led the Conquistadors in both categories with 18 shots and seven corner kicks.
Up Next: The Conquistadors will take on No. 7 St. Thomas in the second round of the NAIA Nationals Tournament Saturday at noon.