Falcons fall to Flagler in conference title match

FROM STAFF REPORTS

After reaching the Peach Belt Conference tournament title match twice in the past two years and not coming away with the crown, top-seeded Flagler College made the third time the charm as it rallied to beat No. 2 seed Montevallo 3-1 for its first tournament championship Nov. 6.

The Saints, who improved to 15-3-2 overall with the win, were down 1-0 at halftime to the Falcons. Flagler scored three second-half goals, including two by Will Fransden, in the come-from-behind win.

Montevallo fell to 12-4-4 with the loss. The Falcons were the defending Peach Belt Conference tournament champions after beating Flagler in the title match last year.

With daylight turning to dusk at Blanchard Woods Park in Evans, Ga., Montevallo went on the attack early but was left open to counterattack and were outshot 4-1 in the opening 20 minutes of the match. That changed with a corner kick 30:25 into play as Ricky Davey headed the corner attempt from Phil Jackson into the crossbar. Guliano Frano was there for the rebound and buried it into the net to give the Falcons a 1-0 lead.

That lead would hold up for the rest of the half as Flagler had problems maintaining possession, but were still able to take shots, outshooting the Falcons 6-8 in the first half.

Both teams had opportunities to begin the second half as a header from Flagler’s Joseph Toby sailed high, followed minutes later by a pair of Falcon shots. One Montevallo shot went wide and another was saved by Saints’ keeper Camp Bissel.

Flagler tied the match at the 55:36 mark as Joseph Toby found himself inside the 18-yard-box with all kinds of space and sent a perfect ball to Will Fransden, who headed it home.

Flagler struck again 12 minutes later as Fransden did the honors again, this time with his feet. Johan Bergfeld broke free on the right side and sent a ball into Toby, who flicked it with his chest over to Fransden.

Montevallo was further hampered by foul trouble as Davey picked up his second yellow card of the game at the 72:17 mark, forcing Montevallo to play with only 10 players. Flagler struck for the third time just 13 seconds later as Pol Berenguer headed a free kick from Kevin Keenan just under the crossbar. Montevallo players played the ball out, but officials ruled that it had crossed the line, which gave Flagler a 3-1 lead.

Montevallo pulled out all the stops in the last 20 minutes, but were unable to come away with the win. The Falcons took nine corners to Flagler’s seven, but were outshot by the Saints 15-13. Montevallo collected seven yellow cards in the physical game, with three more handed to Flagler.

Both teams await the NCAA Tournament selections, which will happen Nov. 7 at 7:30.