Nov. 14, 2003
Macon, GA - Florida Atlantic University's men's soccer team advanced to the 2003 Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer Championship final after defeating Stetson 4-1 on Friday evening. The Owls will be looking for their first NCAA Tournament appearance after reaching the finals for third time in program history. Bjorn Masson set the program record for assists in a season while 2003 A-Sun Player-of-the-Year Kristoffer Aarskog tied the program record for goals and points in a season.
"I am very excited and looking forward to going back to the finals," said head coach Kos Donev. "This was a very tight game that was very well fought by both teams. We were fortunate enough to be able to create chances and take advantage of those chances by putting the ball into the net."
As has been the norm for FAU (11-8-1), the team scored its 11th goal of the season within the first 15 minutes of play. At 9:30 of the first half, Aarskog headed in his program tying 16th goal off of a free kick from Masson. Masson, the program's all-time assists leader, broke the program record for assists in a season with his 10th of the year.
In the 26th minute, Aarskog played give and go with Bjorn Totland around the Hatters box. Totland collected the pass and bent his shot around the keepers gloves into the left side of the net to give FAU a 2-0 lead.
The Hatters (8-10-1) cut the lead to 2-1 prior to halftime when Ian Zarac knocked in a goal off a pass from Daniel Gay.
The Owls increased their lead in the 57th minute when Totland scored his 10th goal of the season. He received a pass from Aarskog and launched a shot from the left side of the 18-yard box to the far post, past the keeper. Aarskog recorded his 36th point this season off the assist, tying him with Jason Rocke (1992-95) for most points in a season. Florida Atlantic now has three players with 10 goals this year.
Josh Garbee capped off the scoring two minutes later when he dribbled through the Hatter defense, beat a defender at the top of the 18-yard box and bent his shot towards the lower left post for his 11th goal of the season.
Minutes later, Anders Granstad, Second-Team All-Conference, saved a penalty kick by Alex Minton to seal the victory. Granstad saved five shots while Michael Winchester, starting in place of the injured Ian Landrum, made four saves in goal for the Hatters.
Florida Atlantic last won 11 games in a season in 1996 when the Owls went 13-6. FAU outshot Stetson 18-16 while the Hatters won the corner battle 6-2.
FAU last played in the A-Sun finals in 1999, losing to Mercer 2-0. The Owls will play the winner of the Mercer/Central Florida match on Saturday at 7 pm. FAU defeated Mercer for the first time in seven chances with its 4-0 October 31. The team was defeated by UCF 1-0 October 12. The winner of the Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer Championships will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.