The task of paring a list of 500 games down to 20 was at times daunting, and there were some challenges involving soccer that were not present for softball, the subject of our first countdown last spring. Some of the games we've presented over the last several weeks were easy to choose, and the only question was where they would fall on the list, but there was never any doubt as to which game would occupy the top spot. Much like the number one game on softball's top-20 countdown, it was an easy selection, as it represents two things that occurred at Barnett Field in the same game that have each happened only once on their home field. With their 1-0 overtime win over Rollins on November 5, 1971, the Moccasins not only clinched a conference championship in the most dramatic way possible, they also secured a bid to what has so far been their only trip to the NCAA Tournament.
The Moccasins had been part of the Florida Intercollegiate Conference since 1957, and had already won conference championships in 1958, '65, and '67, the last of which they shared with Rollins when both teams had identical records and played to a pair of draws. Their two previous outright titles were both secured on the road, but in 1971, the Mocs had a chance to do that in front of their own fans at what was then known as Pipkin Field. When the season began, however, a head-to-head battle for the conference championship might have been the last thing head coach Jim Bush and the Moccasins were expecting to see in the season finale.
Rollins had won or shared the FIC title every year from 1966-70, and had gone 29-6-4 during their first three seasons under Gordie Howell. The Tars were again the favorites in 1971, and a young Florida Southern squad that featured 12 freshmen and only three seniors was their first opponent. It did not go well for the Moccasins, who lost that first meeting of the season in Winter Park, 10-2.
The Moccasins bounced back, however, for a 4-0 win over Stetson in their home opener a few days later, and after a 3-2 loss to Miami, put together what was then a school-record seven-game winning streak. One of those wins was a 4-3 victory over Saint Leo in which the Mocs came back from a 3-1 halftime deficit that Bush later acknowledged as a turning point in the season. That put the Moccasins at 8-2 overall and 4-1 in the FIC going into the season finale, a re-match with Rollins at Pipkin Field with the conference title on the line.
With the game still scoreless at the end of regulation, the Mocs and Tars were off to overtime, and it was there, with only three seconds remaining, that Frank Hanraets netted the game-winning goal, taking a perfect pass from senior forward and co-captain Richard Brelsford, and lining his shot into the center of the net. It was the 15th goal of the season for Hanraets, a freshman from Holland who led the state in scoring in his only season at Florida Southern.
The goal completed a stunning turn-around for the Moccasins, who had lost their opener at Rollins by eight goals but beat the Tars at the end for their eighth consecutive win. According to the Lakeland Ledger's account of the game, the largest crowd in Florida Southern history rushed the field after the goal was scored as Hanraets and co-captain John Dawsey were hoisted to the shoulders of their teammates and carried to the side line.
Following the game, Bush talked about the total team effort it took to win, but also singled out the defensive line of David Kellaway, Bob Scherer and Tom Smith, as well as freshman goalkeeper Tom Arthur, who had replaced injured senior Don Cubberley earlier in the year and posted his third shutout of the season. Also starting in that game were Dawsey, Hanraets, Brelsford, Alan Grossman, Dennis Visconti, Jeff Hoch, and Frank Dennis.
One week later, Bush received a call from NCAA headquarters, inviting Florida Southern to the Small College South Regional Tournament featuring the four best teams from 13 southern states. The Moccasins joined Loyola of Maryland and James Madison at Rollins the first weekend of December, and though their season ended there, it remains the only time the Mocs have ever played in the NCAA Tournament.
#20 on the Countdown: October 24, 1958
#19 on the Countdown: September 16, 1999
#18 on the Countdown: September 25, 1980
#17 on the Countdown: October 26, 2013
#16 on the Countdown: September 25, 1978
#15 on the Countdown: October 22, 1988
#14 on the Countdown: September 14, 2003
#13 on the Countdown: November 2, 1963
#12 on the Countdown: September 30, 2009
#11 on the Countdown: September 18, 1973