Oct. 31, 2004
BOCA RATON, FL - Senior Bjorn Totland's two goals and an assist powered the Florida Atlantic University men's soccer team to a 3-1 conference win over Mercer on Sunday afternoon, guaranteeing the Owls at least a share of their first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title.
"Everybody stepped up and had a consistent game today," said Owls head coach Kos Donev after his team's seventh consecutive win and 10th in their last 11 games.
"The guys deserved to win and they all know what's at stake here."
Playing without their injured star forward Kristoffer Aarskog for the first time this season, the Owls (11-2, 7-1) took about 10 minutes of the first half to get adjusted to a new 4-3-3 formation. Once they got settled however, it was business as usual.
In the 18th minute, Totland opened the scoring after some good passing from Samuel-Eli Dzegede and Andreas Heggelund. Totland found himself with space just inside the box and unleashed a low shot into the far corner of Martin Walker's net.
Totland seemed to be relishing his new forward role and the Norwegian turned provider for the Owls' second goal on the 38:56 mark.
After a defensive giveaway by the Bears (9-7, 6-3) on their left side, Totland located strike partner Rustin Kluge with a cross and the senior finished well into almost exactly the same part of the net as Totland had earlier.
Mercer seemed out of sorts the entire first half, rarely entering FAU territory. Midfielder Vicinte Arze looked the most dangerous option for the Bears but was many times physically outplayed by the strong Owls defense.
Nine minutes into the second half, Mercer found themselves back in the game thanks to an opportunistic goal by Mark McKeever. The sophomore forward took a pass from Andrew Jones and finished easily from close range.
With the momentum now squarely against the Owls for the first time in the match, the question was how they would respond after such a mentally draining win over Georgia State on Friday.
The Owls responded in the best way possible, with another goal three minutes later.
After good work in the middle, Josh Garbee found Dzegede streaking down the right wing. A looping cross from the junior midfielder found Totland unmarked at the far post. Totland brought the ball down and found the top corner of Walker's net with authority.
Walker kept the score at 3-1 with some solid goalkeeping down the stretch but the Irishman's Bears never threatened Anders Granstad's goal the rest of the way.
With the win, the Owls clinch a bye in the first round of the Atlantic Sun Tournament, which will be held in Macon, Ga. on Nov. 11-13. A win at Stetson on Thursday will give FAU the outright conference title and the number one seed in the tournament.
The Owls will play their final regular-season game on Sunday, November 7th when they host Adelphi. The six Owl seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony.
NOTES: The current seven-game win streak ties a program record (1989)...with two games remaining, the Owls have a chance to equal the program record for wins (13 in 1996) and are assured of setting a new record for highest winning percentage...the seven conference wins sets a new program record (6, 2003)...Totland has six goals in his last five games and has a point in six of his last seven games.