For more than 109 minutes, Ryan Coulter wasn’t called upon to do much. But when the East Tennessee State soccer team’s goalkeeper was needed, he came through in record-breaking fashion.
Coulter broke the Atlantic Sun Conference career record for shutouts Saturday night, making a dramatic diving save with 17 seconds left of the second overtime to preserve a 0-0 tie against Lipscomb.
“Everything was going through my head,” Coulter said. “I haven’t made a save all night, our defense played great and with 17 seconds left, I get called on.”
It was the 24th shutout of Coulter’s career and it came with his parents, who had flown in from Ireland, in the stands. He broke the record held by Florida International University’s Jeff Cassar, set from 1992-95.
“He made a great save,” ETSU coach Scott Calabrese said. “Unfortunately, we had put ourselves in the position where a save at the end was necessary to make sure we at least got a tie. Ryan all season has come up big in critical moments and he did very well again.”
With 17 seconds remaining in the second overtime, ETSU was whistled for a foul some 40 yards out. The ensuing free kick by the conference’s leading scorer, Omar Djabi, dipped over the wall of defenders and appeared headed toward the lower left corner. Coulter got a finger tip on it at the last second and kocked it out of harm’s way.
“I didn’t want it to end that way,” Coulter said. “So it ends on a high note for me.”
As it turns out, it was the final game at Summers-Taylor Stadium for ETSU’s seniors, including Coulter and David Geno, the program’s all-time leading scorer. Florida Gulf Coast clinched the A-Sun’s regular-season championship on Saturday night with a 2-0 victory over Jacksonville and will host the conference turnament.
“It is difficult when our goal is to host and one of our goals is to win the regular-season championship,” Calabrese said. “We didn’t achieve that, but there are still other goals.”
The result left the Bucs 7-5-4 overall, 5-2-1 in the A-Sun. Lipsomb is 8-7-2, 4-2-1.
Lipscomb’s best scoring chance came in the opening minute when a shot banged off the post. ETSU outshot the Bisons 19-5.
“We had a couple of good looks, we just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Geno said.
ETSU closes the regular season on Tuesday with a nonconference game at Wofford. The A-sun tournament begins Nov. 13 and the Bucs can still earn the No. 2 seed and ensuing quarterfiuna; bye if Lipscomb loses to Mercer next Saturday.