“It was spinning, and I didn’t want to hit it first time,” Goncalves said. “So I thought I’d better take a touch. I thought the other player was going to get it, and then I just had to tap it past one of the others, and then it was just shoot. I didn’t know where it was going, just hit it.”
Goncalves buried his left-footed shot from 15 yards out low into the right corner of the net with 30 seconds remaining, lifting the No.1 Spartans to a 3-1 victory against the Savannah College of Art and Design on Friday afternoon at Pepin-Rood Stadium. Pascal Milien tacked on a third goal with eight seconds remaining on a breakaway.
Despite the late goals preserving the Spartans’ perfect record, it was a rather indifferent performance. Chances were missed, and the team only appeared to play with the emotion Coach Adrian Bush thought it needed sporadically, a late onslaught leading to the game-winning goal.
“That’s the thing we talked about at halftime,” Bush said. “I said that in my opinion, the No.1 team in the country is absolutely boring, and they’re playing with no emotion. I thought it did take ‘til the final eight minutes to go until they started playing with emotion, and when they play with emotion, they’re a very dangerous team, but I think we got fortunate today.”
Tampa (4-0-0) had taken the lead in the 9th minute, Lister Warren flicking Dan Ingvarsson’s free kick from the left side into the right corner of the net. The Spartans had chances to add to their lead as Milien caused problems for the Bees down the left. In the 26th minute, he centered for Mike Bethel, who had his shot cleared off the line by Savannah’s Ally McDonald. The rebound came to Warren, who’s shot was saved by Ross Faulds before Bethel shot over the bar.
Warren also should have done better when he sent a header high from Milien’s cross late in the first half.
Savannah (3-1-1) made Tampa pay for its poor finishing when it tied the game 12 minutes after the break, as the Spartans failed to deal with a cross from the right. Bees forward Ellert Hreinsson had his shot saved by Ryan Thompson, but Josiah Millar was on hand to tap in the rebound.
“You let teams hang around and don’t finish your chances, those things are going to happen,” Bush said. “I give our guys credit, they did hold it together, discipline was key, but we’ve got to do a better job of scoring goals, no doubt.”
Millar was shown a red card late in the game for a reckless challenge, as were both Savannah coach Tom Melville and assistant Rob Weisel, who were infrequently frustrated by the officials. Mellville’s ejection came directly after Goncalves goal, when he rushed the field to take issue with referee David Sorondo’s handling of the game.
While the Bees left the field with a sour taste in their mouths, Bush said he was happy Goncalves was the player who found the crucial goal.
“I’m happy for him,” Bush said. “He’s worked hard, he’s come over from England as a freshman, battled all the way through preseason and I thought he had a very solid game tonight defensively, some great runs into the attack, and just a great individual effort to put it home.”