LIVINGSTON, Ala. — Posting arguably one of the greatest comebacks in Lee men’s soccer history, the Flames battled back from a 3-0 deficit to 25th-ranked and host West Alabama to win 4-3 on Sunday afternoon.
It was Lee’s second Gulf South Conference victory after suffering a pair of heartbreaking overtime defeats, but coach Paul Furey promised his team and fans after Friday’s loss that his club was going to get a victory.
Furey, who has been coaching college soccer for 29 years, said he had never had a club go down 3-0 at halftime and come back to win. “I told the boys that,” he noted. “Today was a pretty special win for Lee soccer. Not just beating a top 25 team at their place, but how we did it.”
The Flames fell behind quickly and the margin grew to 3-0 in the 36th minute. “They beat us in every way in the first half,” said the coach. “But it takes two halves to win in this game. We talked at the half and said if we could get an early goal that would make things interesting.”
Senior Josh Ball answered the call. The veteran forward scored on a penalty kick in the 51st minute to cut the lead to 3-1. It was the first of three goals on the day for Ball. But that was just the beginning of the quick comeback for Ball and the Flames. He collected a pass from Chevon Roberts in the 52nd minute and scored from 15 yards out. The goal was also set up by a long service from Lee keeper Tom Halsall.
The contest rocked on to the 86th minute and Ball struck again to put the Flames even at three. Roberts recorded his second assist. The score sheet showed that just five seconds later, freshman Arturo Rocha tallied an unassisted goal from six yards out and touched off a grand celebration near the Lee bench with the Flames on top 4-3.
“JB (Ball) scored twice in the first eight minutes [of the second half] and that made it a different game,” explained Furey. “JB’s equalizer and Arturo’s game winner in the final five minutes were both quality goals.”
Furey continued his praise by saying, “what character this group displayed today. This is one we will remember for a long time.”
Bryan Meadows scored the first West Alabama goal of the game and was assisted by Vitor Gazza. The pair reversed roles on the next two scores. Gazza tallied his fourth and fifth scores of the year and Meadows registered a pair of assists.
Halsall recorded six saves for the Flames, who are now all even at 3-3-1 overall and 2-2-1 in rugged GSC play. Lee made the best of 14 shots, 10 in the second half, placing nine on goal. The Tigers took 17 shots and had nine on target. The loss dropped West Alabama to 5-2-1 overall and 3-2-1 in the league.
The Flames will remain on the road for more GSC action Friday when they travel to Rome, Ga., to face old rival Shorter University.