Pascal Milien scored the game-winning goal after teammate Ryan Griffin had forced overtime with just over two minutes to play in regulation as No.4 Tampa came back to defeat No.1 Lynn 2-1 at Pepin-Rood Stadium on Saturday in the latest installment of what has been an enthralling rivalry.
Lynn forward Paolo Vaz was shown a straight red card for a dangerous challenge on Spartans center back Dan Ingvarsson in the 38th minute. The Fighting Knights (10-1-0, 2-1-0 Sunshine State Conference) persisted despite being down a man, and took the lead in the 79th minute when Scott Gordon drove a free kick into the top left corner of the Spartans’ net.
Falling behind saw the Spartans (6-0-1, 2-0-0 SSC) play with even greater urgency, and they were rewarded in the 87th minute after a long ball by Ingvarsson into the penalty area found Griffin, who fired home.
The goal was a fitting reward for Griffin’s work in the center of midfield for the Spartans.
“I hope people are taking notice of what he does game in and game out,” Spartans coach Adrian Bush said. “He’s not the guy with all the flash, but he’s a rock in the middle along with Karl Swan.”
Milien then gave the Spartans victory, beating Lynn goalkeeper Alessandro Dalvatore to a through ball by Greg O’Connor to fire home the winner, and send the Spartans bench into celebration.
Bush said while defeating Lynn was a big achievement for his squad, he expected to see the Fighting Knights again later in the season. The Spartans and Fighting Knights have played in the regular season, Sunshine State Conference Tournament and NCAA Division II Tournament for the past two seasons.
“It’s a big win for the program” Bush said. “I’m happy for the university, for our fans, and for our players, but we understand that this does not make out season. We’re now getting ready for Palm Beach Atlantic on Tuesday.”