FLORENCE, SC – Sophomore forward Alvaro Zamora scored the match-winning goal in the 26th minute and junior goalkeeper Maximiliano Rocco made a last-second save of a bicycle-kick near the 6-yard box to allow Francis Marion University to escape with a 1-0 win over Belmont Abbey College, Wednesday evening (Sept. 18) in non-conference men's soccer action.
Francis Marion improves to 3-0-0 on the young season, its best start since 2014. Belmont Abbey falls to 1-3-0.
FMU will play host to the University of Montevallo on Saturday at 1 p.m. on Hartzler Field.
A pass from sophomore Oliver Peters found Zamora near the corner flag on the right side of the field and he dribbled into the penalty area and hit a shot from 14-yards out with his left foot to tally the winning score. It was the Spanish international's second goal as a Patriot, and his second consecutive match-winner.
Francis Marion outshot Belmont Abbey 11-6. Both squads had one corner kick a piece.
Rocco extended his scoreless minutes streak to 287:53 with a third consecutive shutout to start his Patriot career. On Wednesday, he turned aside three Crusader attempts, with the final stop being his finest. A late throw by Belmont Abbey eventually found its way deep into the penalty area where Ryan Cowie managed a twisting and turning bicycle attempt from 6-yards out that was pushed away by Rocco. The Crusaders earned a corner kick on the play, but the clock expired before they could take it.
It is the first time since the 2015 campaign that Francis Marion has recorded three straight shutouts, and only the second time ever to open a season.
Crusaders' goalkeeper Ben Knust also registered three saves.
Senior midfielder Travis Cooke led FMU with three shots, while Zamora took two.
Belmont Abbey tested Rocco early in the match. His other two saves came in the 11th and 13th minutes. Rocco made a diving stop on a shot by Albin Baathe after a pass got over the Patriot backline at 10:40. A sequence that began at 12:45 saw Rocco stop a shot by Gianni Serio and then a follow-up shot by Baathe sailed high over the crossbar.
FMU sophomore midfielder Jafet Santiago had an attempt bounce off the right post at the 22:51 mark.
With the win, first-year Patriot head coach Luis Rincon becomes the first FMU coach to begin his tenure with three straight victories.
Post-match comments from FMU head coach Luis Rincon
Francis Marion Univ. (3-0-0) def. Belmont Abbey Coll. (1-3-0) 1-0
Date: 09/18/19 Attendance: 107
Weather: 80 degrees, mostly cloudy, Winds NE at 10 mph
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Belmont Abbey Coll.. 0 0 - 0
Francis Marion Univ. 1 0 - 1
1-0. 25:51 FMU Alvaro Zamora (2) (unassisted) - Dribbled from right side, left-footed shot from 14 yards out, glances off right post and in
Shots: Belmont Abbey 6, Francis Marion 11 ; Saves: Belmont Abbey 3 (Ben Knust 3), Francis Marion 3 (Maximiliano Rocco 3)