It was, in the words of University of Tampa coach Adrian Bush, an “ugly performance”.
But the No.1-ranked Spartans emerged with a 1-1 tie against No.22 West Florida thanks to Matt Karn’s second half goal from a set piece by Dan Ingvarsson.
Jay Mainville gave the Argonauts (4-1-1) the lead in the 28th minute as he combined with strike-partner Steven Munoz before shooting home. The Argonauts continued to give the Spartans problems, outshooting them 19-8 for the game, but goalkeeper Ryan Maxwell made six saves to keep the Spartans in the game.
That became crucial in the 74th minute, when Tampa (4-0-1) was awarded a free kick in the left corner. Ingvarsson delivered the ball into the penalty area, and Karn rose to head home his first goal for the Spartans.
Tampa was reduced to 10 men in the second overtime period, Zach Fraser being shown a red card, but the Spartans held on for the final four minutes to earn a tie.
“You have to give a lot of credit to West Florida,” Bush said. “They are a fantastic team and one we have a lot of respect for.
“Hopefully this can serve as a wake-up call for our players as we head into SSC play."
The Spartans open Sunshine State Conference play against Barry next Saturday at 7 p.m.