CONWAY - For the first time in four games the No. 18 Coastal Carolina men's soccer team did not need overtime to down their opposition as goals by Justin Portillo and Ashton Bennett enabled the Chanticleers to roll past Florida Atlantic 2-0 in front of 658 fans at the CCU Soccer Field on Friday evening.
The win moves the Chanticleers to 3-1-1 (1-0-0, Big South) on the season and 1-0-0 in the Coastal Carolina Invitational, while the loss drops the Owls to 1-3-0 (0-0-0, Mid-American) and 0-1-0 in the Chanticleer-hosted tournament. Wofford defeated Bowling Green 1-0 in the first game of the tournament.
The Chanticleers dominated play through the early portion of the first half as they continued to hold possession in their offensive third. Holding a 5-1 advantage in shots, the Chants finally broke through in the 27th minute thanks to a header by Portillo. Portillo was initially taken down inside the '18 setting up a penalty kick for Coastal. Portillo attempted the kick but it was saved by Florida Atlantic's Jeremy Crumpton; however, the rebound deflected into the air where the junior midfielder headed it home for his second goal of the season.
The Chants continued to connect passes, many of which led to scoring opportunities, throughout the remainder of the half and would take the 1-nil lead into the locker room.
Florida Atlantic came out on the offensive to start the second stanza, but the stout Coastal backline would turn away each chance the Owls could muster.
After regaining their rhythm and putting posting four shots on frame the Chants found some breathing room off the foot of Bennett, the Big South Conference Preseason Player of the Year, in the 77th minute. Bennett, who finished the night with two of his five shot attempts on frame, took a pass from Ricky Garbanzo near the 18 before uncurling his fourth scoring strike of the season toward the far post. Garbanzo and Bennett have now hooked up on three of Coastal's last four goals. Moreover, for his Chanticleer career, Bennett is averaging one goal per game with 27 goals in 27 career games.
As much as the night belonged to the Coastal attackers, the Chanticleer defenders turned in an equally impressive performance. The Coastal backline and goalkeeper Scott Shewfelt, who made his first start of the season in front of the home fans, limited the Owls to only five shots and none on goal for their third clean sheet of the season.
In all, the Chants finished the contest with 16 shots, including nine on net, and four corner opportunities. The Owls would force two corners and attempt only five shots.
The Chanticleers return to action on Sunday, Sept. 9 at 2:30 p.m. in the fourth and final game of the Coastal Carolina University Invitational as they take on the Falcons of Bowling Green. Wofford and Florida Atlantic will square off in the third game of the tournament at Noon on Sunday.
Coastal Carolina University Invitational Schedule
Bowling Green 0, Wofford 1
Coastal Carolina 2, Florida Atlantic 0
Wofford vs. Florida Atlantic - Sunday | Noon
Coastal Carolina vs. Bowling Green - Sunday | 2:30 p.m.