If coach Paul Furey made any birthday wishes on Friday, he kept them to himself, but his team provided the veteran coach with a party he will likely never forget on Senior Night and Homecoming weekend at Lee University.
Lee's 2-0 win over visiting Shorter University gave Furey an important coaching milestone, his 300th college coaching victory. The shutout also secured a second-place finish in Lee's first season as a member of the Gulf South Conference.
The victory gives the Flames a final 8-2-4 mark in the GSC. They are 9-3-4 overall and will carry a 10-match unbeaten streak into final non-conference games at Clearwater Christian and Palm Beach Atlantic.
"I'm so proud of these guys on so many fronts," said the Lee coach after the important win. "We did not allow Shorter a shot on goal and posted our second straight shutout. I can go on and on but mostly I'm proud of our seniors. Ben (Armstrong) had a solid game and Chev (Roberts) was again the difference with two assists. This was just a great night for Lee soccer."
Jonathan Finlay broke open a scoreless battle with his first goal of the season in the 64th minute. Roberts delivered a pass from 30 yards out off a set play to get credit for the assist. "Jonny had a great header to go along with a terrific match overall," praised Furey.
Eli Price helped insure the victory with his second goal of the year in the 67th minute. The score came off a cross that was delivered by the ever-present Roberts.
As Furey noted earlier, the Flames dominated the contest with their impressive defensive play. The Hawks fired nine shots but none were on target. Lee was credited with seven shots and placed seven on target. Shorter's Nicolas Ferrigno had five saves in a losing cause.
Furey took a few moments to reflect on his 300th coaching win. "I won't lie, it means a lot to me. Not because of anything special I've done, but for what it represents, and having some terrific players and people I have had around me for almost three decades. This is for all the special players I have loved over the years."
The coach added, "The 300th win is also for my wife and kids who have supported me through the good times and tough times. It's been a great birthday."