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UAB men’s soccer dominates Florida Atlantic, 6-2
The No. 15 UAB men’s soccer team dominated formerly undefeated Florida Atlantic late Sunday afternoon, 6-2.
The win gave UAB an 8-1-1 record, which is the best start to a season the Blazers have had since 2001.
“I’m more concerned with how we finish than how we start,” head coach Mike Getman said. “But we’ve played well almost every game, and I think we’re getting better every game.”
The Blazers took the field directly following the UAB women’s soccer team’s victory over East Carolina (3-2). The rain that had only sprinkled during the women’s game was a constant flow of precipitation for the men’s game.
The players were drenched in a matter of minutes, and fans huddled under umbrellas and rain jackets. The wet field proved problematic for both teams, as players slid and fell.
The results were humorous at times. Redshirt senior midfielder Chase Wickham collided with a Florida Atlantic player and rolled off his opponent’s back.
Other times, they were potentially dangerous. When two players smashed into each other and the Florida Atlantic player went down, it looked like the referee was going to card UAB’s player. Getman could be heard shouting, “Not a word!” to his player, and the referee left it at a warning.
UAB controlled the first half of the game, scoring three goals and allowing none.
Pachinno Roberts, a junior midfielder, scored the first goal at the 18 minute-mark. Five and half minutes later, redshirt junior midfielder Alex Clay scored his third goal of the season.
Another five minutes later, in the 29th minute, junior forward Diego Navarrete scored the team’s third goal.
“I was getting a little bit stressed, I think, because I didn’t score in five (games),” Navarrete said. “It’s going to make me relax a little bit, just play better soccer. It’s going to help the team, I think.”
After halftime, Florida Atlantic came out strong and tried to turn the game around. For a few minutes, it looked like they could do it.
In the 56th minute, the ball deflected off a UAB player into the Blazer goal, giving Florida Atlantic their first point of the game.
“It’s something that happens,” Navarrete said about the own goal. “If we play offensive soccer, we mostly going to give some opportunities for them and we’re going to get goals against, but it’s something that happens. We’re going to get better, so we can’t do anything. Just work hard.”
The Owls were invigorated by their point, and in the 67th minute, freshman forward Jason Garcia scored his team’s second goal.
The Blazers responded by scoring another three goals, as they had done in the first half.
“I thought we played really well for most of the game,” Getman said. “There was about ten minutes in the second half where they had a couple chances. Both of them deflected and went in, and that’s just soccer, especially on a wet day.
“Overall, I thought we defended really well for 80, 85 minutes. We certainly attacked well for the whole game.”
In the 73rd minute, Navarrete collected a pass from senior midfielder Moses Adeniran and sent the ball to the top right corner. It was Navarrete’s sixth goal of the season.
Three minutes later, Navarrete sent the ball to sophomore forward Freddy Ruiz, who scored the fifth goal of the game.
Navarrette would assist Ruiz again only four minutes later, as Ruiz made his eighth goal of the season.
“Diego has played well every single game,” Getman said. “Today the ball started going into the goal for him finally. But he’s had a good performance all season. Today he got the goals . . . but it’s really what we expect from him.”
The Blazers had a few other opportunities to score, on which they weren’t able to capitalize, although the crowd seemed greedy for more. When the time ran out, the dedicated fans who had stayed through the rain cheered and left quickly, as the Owls sulked off the field.
The Blazers next travel to play conference rival Old Dominion on Saturday, October 12 at 6 p.m.
Despite being ranked for five consecutive weeks, Getman said it’s too early to look to the post-season.
“We can’t look that far ahead. We can only look to the next one. We play Old Dominion next . . . They were ranked No. 1 in the nation for a good part of last season. We’re on the road. We know that that’s going to be a battle. And so it’s one game at a time.”
Photos by Sarah Adkins