North Florida came into the Atlantic Sun Men’s Soccer
Championship as the No. 5 seed with a team compiled of several new faces and
young players. The program had never found themselves in an A-Sun Championship
Semifinal nor did they ever expect to land in the championship match, but they
did just that with an upset victory against top-seeded FGCU.
“We aren’t going to head into the final with nerves because we know that we have nothing to lose,” Head Coach Derek Marinatos explained. “Just like tonight the only team that had something to lose was FGCU who had all the records and wins, so at the end of the day we had no pressure on us.”
“I was excited for the team and the program but in the game, especially those last ten minutes I could feel my nerves going through the roof,” said impact freshman Jay Bolt.
The Ospreys had to learn early on in the season how to get such a new team to mesh well as they looked to find chemistry early on.
“Chemistry comes with playing with each other. It’s never easy, but we kept sticking to what we knew best and worked through it,” goalkeeper Brad Sienkiewicz said.
“I saw the transitions and I talked to the coaches and they knew they’d have to start from scratch. I just tried to use my experience to help some of the new guys learn what it means to be a Division I athlete.”
Coach Marinatos new early on how important it was to have his team buy into the program he was looking to create.
“We had a good core to get us here. We went out and branched out all over the world to bring these guys in,” Marinatos said. “We started the season strong when we beat FIU and UCF on the road but we hit a mid-season rut when we experienced some growing pains but these guys banded together and figured it out.”
In the end when it comes to the Osprey squad entering their first ever A-Sun Championship Final there is one thing that Marinatos is sure of and that is that his team has nothing to worry about.
“We aren’t supposed to be here, we are the underdogs.”