On Nov. 3, the Palm Beach Atlantic University Sailfish Men’s Soccer team hosted the semi-finals of the Sunshine State Conference Tournament at the Rinker Athletic Complex.
The Sailfish earned the honor of hosting the tournament by winning the Sunshine State Conference Regular Season Championship with their impressive 9-0 conference record. Throughout the season, they dominated the conference, only allowing three goals with an impressive 13 shutouts.
Having earned a bye in the first round, they only needed to win two playoff games to make it to their goal of winning the SSC Championship. Instead of the semi- final match starting at 7:00 like it was supposed to, the other semi-final game went into penalty kicks as the University of Tampa beat Lynn University.
When the match finally began, the stands were packed; people had to stand up to watch the game. It was clearly going to be a hard fought match between the No. 2 ranked PBA team and Rollins College, as in regular season play, it was a close 1-0 victory for the Sailfish. As the teams took the field, the fans were loud, cheering for the Sailfish.
Sophomore Jessie Girgis loves coming to watch the games.
“It’s important to support the team because it lets them know we are rooting for them,” she said, “and tonight they have to know how much we care about them.”
The Sailfish entered this game excited and ready, looking to win the SSC Championships on their home turf. Unfortunately for the ‘Fish, that was not how it was going to happen, and the dream ended on a rainy South Florida evening.
As the first half got under way, there was not much excitement. Both teams stayed strong defensively, and the pouring rain didn't seem to affect the game at all, nor could it dampen the spirits of the ‘Fish fans. The first half closed with a scoreless draw.
The rain slowed down in the second half, and nine minutes in, one of the Rollins Tars hit a shot past goalkeeper Elliot Barker. Instead of giving in, however, the Sailfish fought back. Charlie Dennis hit a solid shot into the crossbar. The fans and players went crazy, and many argued that it was inside the goal. The referee disagreed, and time was running out on the ‘Fish, but they held on hope.
The hope was stolen from them in the minute 75 though, as the Tars put another goal past Barker. The shock was evident throughout the Rinker Athletic Complex, as the ‘Fish watched the clock wind down. The rain picked back up, and it seemed to match the mood of nearly everyone in the stands.
As the final whistle blew, the scoreboard showed a 2-0 deficit for the PBA Sailfish, and the dream of bringing home the first SSC Championship for the school disappeared. The heartbroken players dropped to the ground as they realized it was over, and some even shed some tears, showing just how much of their hearts were invested in this season.
Although the ‘Fish lost their chance at winning the SSC Championship, they still hold on to hope of winning the National Championship, as they qualified for it by their impressive regular season performance.