Sharks Surge to No. 15 in United Soccer Coaches National Poll

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Off to an unbeaten 3-0-1 start to the season, head coach Matt Watts and the Nova Southeastern men’s soccer team have continued their climb up the United Soccer Coaches national poll, rising to No. 15 in the latest rankings. The new ranking marks the highest for the Sharks under Watts, and highest overall for the program since reaching No. 2 all the way back in 2007.

After being held out of competition in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sharks have returned to the pitch in a big way during the first month of the 2021 campaign. NSU opened the fall with a bang by beating Gulf South Conference preseason favorite Mississippi College and later added a quality draw against Top-10 NAIA program St. Thomas (Fla.). In their most recent match on Tuesday, the Sharks overcame a second-half deficit by scoring the go-ahead goal in the 87th minute to defeat Sunshine State Conference rival Barry.

NSU is one of three SSC programs among this week’s Top-25, joined by No. 4 Palm Beach Atlantic and No. 21 Lynn. Charleston (W. Va.) remains at No. 1.

The Sharks will hit the road for the first time this season, as they set to square off against Rollins this Saturday at 4 p.m. For complete coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.

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Lawrence Delivers in the 87th to Cap Come-From-Behind Victory

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Michael Lawrence didn’t start the match, but he certainly provided the finishing touches, as the Nova Southeastern forward found the back of the net in the 87th minute to lift the Sharks to a 2-1 comeback over Sunshine State Conference rival Barry on Tuesday. Matty Cornish tallied NSU’s other score to go along with his game-winning assist, as the Sharks move to 3-0-1 to begin the season.

Score: Nova Southeastern 2, Barry 1
Records: Nova Southeastern (3-0-1), Barry (1-3-1)
Location: NSU Soccer Complex | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MSoccer | Instagram – @nsu_msoccer | Facebook – /nsusoccer


  • A bit of a miscue at the backend of the NSU defense nearly handed the Buccaneers a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the match. A hustling Manuel Cukaj was able to clear the ball off the line at the last second, though, to avoid the early disaster.
  • With Barry sitting five defenders across the back, the Sharks struggled to find many scoring chances in the first half. In the 16th minute, however, NSU managed to find some space in the Bucs defense, peppering three shots in a rapid-fire sequence only to watch them all get blocked.  
  • Both sides tallied just two shots apiece the rest of the half, as the match headed into the break still scoreless.
  • NSU gathered some momentum at the start of the second half, controlling the majority of the possession through the first 10-plus minutes. The script was soon flipped, though, in the 58th minute when the Bucs grabbed the lead on a bending shot into the top left corner of the goal by Marlon Buck.
  • Trailing for the first time all season, the Sharks showed some resilience, needing just over seven minutes to respond. Forcing the pressure on the Barry backline, Lawrence earned a foul call in the box, resulting in a Cornish penalty kick conversion to draw the game back even, 1-1.
  • With the energy ramped up, NSU keeper Alberto Ciroi made some solid saves in the 76th and 80th minutes, before a Barry header in the 84th narrowly missed high.
  • Barry’s failed chance kept the door open for NSU, as the Sharks soon capitalized in the 87th minute when Cornish beat his defender down the left sideline, played a pass into the box to Lawrence, who then settled the ball with one touch and drilled a left-footed strike into the low, right corner of the goal for the eventual game-winner.


  • Cornish has now scored in two consecutive matches.
  • Of the seven different players who have scored for the Sharks this season, Cornish is the only one with multiple goals.
  • Five yellow cards were issued in the physical match, all coming in the second half.
  • Tuesday’s contest didn’t count towards the conference standings. NSU will face Barry in Sunshine State Conference action later this season on Oct. 20.


  • NSU held a 15-10 advantage in the shot department and won the corner kick battle by a 6-0 margin.

The Sharks will have one more tune-up before the official start of SSC play, taking on Rollins on the road this Saturday at 4 p.m. For complete coverage, visit the schedule page on, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.


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Sharks Cruise Past Florida Memorial, 4-0

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Four different players scored, including Christian Gorski and Aleks Berg in a 46-second span early in the second half, as Nova Southeastern rolled to a 4-0 victory over Florida Memorial at home Friday night. The Sharks outshot the Lions by a wide 24-2 margin in the effort, while defensively, head coach Matt Watts‘ club earned its second shutout just three matches into the season.

Score: Nova Southeastern 4, Florida Memorial 0
Records: Nova Southeastern (2-0-1), Florida Memorial (0-3)
Location: NSU Soccer Complex | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MSoccer | Instagram – @nsu_msoccer | Facebook – /nsusoccer


  • The Sharks peppered shots at Florida Memorial keeper Jesus Tovar from the opening kickoff, yet needed 29:54 to finally breakthrough when Tobias Pellio played a ball over the top to Juanchi Nunez, who then drilled a right-footed strike into the back of the net for the games first score.
  • NSU doubled its lead in the 38th minute after Matty Cornish forced a turnover in the attacking third before connecting on his first goal of the season.
  • The Sharks picked up right where they left off to begin the second half, as Christian Gorski cleaned up Henrik Berg’s initial shot attempt to make it a 3-0 contest in the 50th minute.
  • NSU’s continued offensive pressure led to a Lions hand ball in the box just 46 seconds later, allowing Berg to convert the ensuing penalty kick to build the cushion to 4-0.
  • The Sharks held the Lions without a shot over the final 36:47 to cap off the dominant performance.


  • NSU scored twice as many goals Friday night as it had in its first two matches combined.
  • Keeper Michael Bittner Mcpherson made his NSU debut in the second half, registering 19:44 in net.


  • Michael Lawrence tallied a game-high six shots as part of the Sharks’ 24 overall attempts.
  • NSU also held an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks.

The Sharks will wrap up their four-game home stand to begin the season when they host Barry in a non-conference matchup next Tuesday at 7 p.m. For complete coverage, visit the schedule page on, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.


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Sharks Control Match, Earn 1-1 Draw vs. St. Thomas (Fla.)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Although a win would have definitely been deserved, head coach Matt Watts has plenty to build upon following his side’s performance Tuesday night, as the Nova Southeastern men’s soccer team dictated play against a quality St. Thomas (Fla.) side en route to a 1-1 draw. As part of the Sharks’ 15-6 shot advantage, Milos Christoforou registered his first goal of the season in the 33rd minute, yet a converted penalty kick early in the second half forced the eventual stalemate.

Score: Nova Southeastern 1, St. Thomas (Fla.) 1
Records: Nova Southeastern (1-0-1), St. Thomas (Fla.) (3-0-1)
Location: NSU Soccer Complex | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MSoccer | Instagram – @nsu_msoccer | Facebook – /nsusoccer


  • The match started slowly following a one-hour weather delay, with the Sharks needing 25 minutes before tallying their first shot of the night.
  • The NSU offense soon gathered momentum, though, as a nice run by Christoforou set up Matty Cornish for an on-target look in the 32nd minute.
  • Although NSU came up empty on its previous chance, the Sharks needed only another 1:28 to cash in, with a beautiful passing sequence by Cornish and Manu Schwarz resulting in Christoforou finding the back of the net.
  • Still 1-0 in the 56th minute, a defensive mistake by NSU inside the left edge of the box handed STU a penalty kick, which was soon converted by the Bobcats’ Ben Becker to pull the match even.
  • Despite the eventual draw, the Sharks produced a fair share of opportunities to regain the lead, beginning in the 61st minute when two straight, bang-bang shots by Nick Brisevac and Michael Lawrence were turned away by the STU keeper.
  • Just four minutes later, Henrik Berg played a well-timed pass from right to left in front of the net, but a sliding Lawrence missed high.
  • Again in the 80th minute, a Cornish run down the left side of the pitch resulted in a scoring chance for Schwarz, only to have the left-footed attempt turned away.
  • Both sides came up empty in their combined three shot attempts in the final 10 minutes, resulting in the 1-1 draw.


  • NSU defender Manu Cukaj made his Sharks debut Tuesday, playing all 90 minutes at center back.
  • STU beat fellow Sunshine State Conference member Barry 4-0 on Sept. 2.


  • In addition to the 15-6 shot margin in favor of the Sharks, NSU also won the battle of the corner kicks, 12-2.
  • NSU keeper, and SSC Defensive Player of the Week, Alberto Ciroi registered three saves in the effort.

The Sharks will hope to remain unbeaten when they return to action at home this Friday at 6 p.m. against Florida Memorial. For complete coverage, visit the schedule page on, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.

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Ciroi Collects Season’s First SSC Defensive Player of the Week Award

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Through week one of the 2021 regular season, Alberto Ciroi has set a pretty high standard for himself after the Nova Southeastern goalkeeper was recognized as the Sunshine State Conference Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

A transfer from Coastal Carolina, Ciroi made quite a debut for the Sharks, as the Italian earned a shutout in NSU’s 1-0, season-opening win against Gulf South Conference preseason favorite Mississippi College this past Thursday. Ciroi collected five saves in the effort, including a tip-save off the post in the 86th minute to preserve the victory. Most impressive, though, was the defensive stand put forth by Ciroi and the Sharks despite playing the final 37:29 a man down following a red card early in the second half.

NSU had lost its previous three meetings versus the Choctaws under head coach Matt Watts.

Ciroi and the Sharks return to action at home on Tuesday to take on St. Thomas (Fla.). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. For coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.

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Sharks Grind Out 1-0 Win in Long-Awaited Return

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Nothing came easy, but following 658 days away from competitive soccer, the Nova Southeastern Sharks will take it. Thanks to a rebounded effort into the back of the net by newcomer Nick Brisevac in the 52nd minute, along with a gutsy defensive performance following a red card early in the second half, head coach Matt Watts and company edged Gulf South Conference opponent Mississippi College 1-0 at home on Thursday.

Score: Nova Southeastern 1, Mississippi College 0
Records: Nova Southeastern (1-0), Mississippi College (0-1)
Location: NSU Soccer Complex | Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Get Social: Twitter – @NSU_MSoccer | Instagram – @nsu_msoccer | Facebook – /nsusoccer


  • NSU gained control in the opening stages of the match, earning its first legit scoring chance after an overlapping Odei Arrieta was a kick-save away from putting the Sharks in front in the 13th minute.
  • A rising shot by Brisevac from 20 yards out floated just inches above the crossbar in the 15th before Milos Christoforou nearly connected in front of the net in the 19th minute.
  • MC didn’t record its first shot of the night until roughly 25 minutes in, yet swung the momentum slightly down the stretch of the opening half. Still, neither side managed to break through, as the first 45 minutes ended scoreless.
  • The Sharks needed just 6:53 out of halftime, however, to climb on top. Alberto Rentero’s low shot attempt ricocheted off MC keeper Alejandro Chavarria, and landed at the feet of Brisevac, who put the finishing touches on the lone goal of the night.
  • Thursday’s contest was physical throughout, and in the 53rd minute, saw a red card issued to NSU defender Bryan Bakboord.
  • The Sharks stood tall, though, with keeper Alberto Ciroi corralling consecutive saves in the 71st minute.
  • Clinging to the 1-0 advantage in the 86th minute, Ciroi tipped a shot attempt off the left post to keep the lead intact. From there, the defense handled the rest, as NSU opened with the quality, regional win.


  • Ten different players made their NSU debuts Thursday, six being inserted into the starting lineup.
  • The Sharks had lost their previous three meetings with the Choctaws under Watts.


  • Ciroi collected five saves en route to a shutout in his NSU debut.
  • The Sharks edged the Choctaws in the shot department, 11-9.
  • A combined seven yellows and one red card were issued on Thursday.

The Sharks will look to double up their win total when they continue their early-season homestand next Tuesday at 7 p.m. against St. Thomas (Fla.). For complete coverage of the action, visit the schedule page on, or follow the Sharks on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.


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NSU Earns Two First-Place Votes, Picked Third Overall in SSC Men’s Soccer Preseason Coaches’ Poll

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Officially less than a week until kickoff, head coach Matt Watts and the Nova Southeastern men’s soccer team has been predicted to finish third overall in the Sunshine State Conference following the release of the SSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll on Friday.

The Sharks were one of just three teams to earn first-place votes – pulling in two – as part of their 72 total points collected in the voting process. Lynn topped the poll with seven first-place tallies and 97 points, while Palm Beach Atlantic was projected runner-up with 90 points and the final two first-place nods. Florida Tech and Tampa rounded out the Top-5.

The COVID-19 pandemic spurned the Sharks from competition in 2020. Still, following three consecutive winning seasons, including a 9-6-3 record in 2019, NSU enters the fall receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches national rankings.

As the first of four straight home matches to open the regular season, the Sharks will face off against Gulf South Conference opponent Mississippi College next Thurs., Sept. 2 at 7 p.m.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the season, follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.

Below are the full results of the 2021 SSC Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their teams (points: 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first-place votes in parentheses).

Rank School Total
1 Lynn 97 (7)
2 Palm Beach Atlantic 90 (2)
3 Nova Southeastern 72 (2)
4 Florida Tech 68
5 Tampa 65
6 Rollins 60
7 Barry 46
8 Florida Southern 44
9 Saint Leo 32
10 Embry-Riddle 16
11 Eckerd 15
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Watts, Sharks Look Ahead to 2021 Season

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. –  The Sharks of Nova Southeastern, under the direction of head coach Matt Watts, make their long-awaited return to the pitch on Thurs., Sept. 2, marking their first competitive match since the 2019 Sunshine State Conference Semifinal.

Watts enters his fifth season as the bench boss at NSU, and has led the program to back-to-back SSC Semifinal appearances.

“At this point, we are just happy and appreciative that we are playing a regular season,” said Watts. “It has been an incredibly frustrating and challenging time for the staff and the players, but I cannot fault the team’s work and effort over the last year, both in training and in the classroom.”

NSU begins the 2021 season with a trio of preseason matches. First, the Sharks will travel to Miami to take on the Panthers of Florida International on Wed., Aug. 18. The Sharks then face Florida National (8/21) at the NSU Soccer Complex before concluding the preseason with a road matchup against Daytona State (8/27).

NSU kicks off the regular season with four consecutive home matches, starting the season versus Mississippi College (9/2), before playing St. Thomas (Fla.) (9/7) and Atlantis (9/10). The Sharks will then conclude the homestand with a non-conference matchup against Barry (9/14) prior to traveling to Rollins (9/18) for the first road game of the fall.

Watts will lead NSU into SSC play, beginning with a home tilt against Lynn (9/22), where the Sharks and Fighting Knights will face-off in a rematch of the 2019 SSC Tournament Semifinals.

“We are excited to be competing in the top conference in the country and NCAA Division II,” added Watts. “We are eager and enthusiastic to play some tough out-of-conference and regional games.”

The Sharks then take on both Florida Southern (9/25) and Florida Tech (10/2) in SSC road action. NSU returns home for a three-match stretch, playing Palm Beach Atlantic (10/6), Tampa (10/9), and Shaw (10/13).

Three of the final five matches of the 2021 regular season are on the road for NSU, as the Sharks take on Eckerd in St. Petersburg (10/16) and Barry, in Miami Shores (10/20), before returning home to take on Saint Leo on Sat., Oct. 23. The final road game of the season is in Daytona Beach, in a clash with Embry-Riddle on Sat., Oct. 30.

The 2021 regular-season finale pits NSU against Rollins in Fort Lauderdale on Tue., Nov. 2, at 6 p.m.

The SSC Tournament is scheduled to begin on Mon., Nov. 11, and will culminate with the SSC Tournament Championship on Sun., Nov. 17.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the season, follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.

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NSU Men’s Soccer Places Two on CoSIDA Academic All-America Teams

AUSTIN, Texas – Shouldering the load for the entire Sunshine State Conference, Nova Southeastern’s Sebastian Loibl and Henrik Berg were selected as the league’s lone two representatives to be named to the 2020-21 CoSIDA Academic All-America Division II Men’s Soccer teams. Loibl earned first-team honors, while Berg was picked as a member of the second team.

“I am very proud of these two guys who have exceeded expectations in the classroom and on the field at NSU,” said head coach Matt Watts. “They are great leaders for the rest of the team to follow. These awards wouldn’t have been earned, though, without the hard work and dedication that our academic department puts in. It is a fantastic resource that our student-athletes can use at their disposal. Both Rachel (Fineberg) and Deanna (Rivero) work hand-in-hand with our student-athletes to make sure they achieve the grades they’re capable of. Well done to all involved in these awards!”

Based on the absence of most fall sports competition, the CoSIDA Academic All-America Committee revised some rules and procedures for nominating student-athletes this season. Due to the low percentage of games completed this season, the nominees were selected based on career statistics and achievements.

Among 24 of the 33 members of the Academic All-America teams with at least a 3.80 cumulative GPA, Loibl recently earned his MBA from NSU with a notable 3.94 GPA. Furthermore, he was a 2019-20 D2 ADA Academic Achievement Award recipient, a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society, and a three-time member of the Fall SSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll.

Despite playing just two full seasons with the Sharks, Loibl closes his career as one of the most decorated players in program history. Over the span of 30 starts, the forward racked up 19 goals and 12 assists. His impressive numbers landed him on the All-SSC First Team both years, and even warranted him All-America honors in 2018.

An Academic All-American while at Seton Hill back in 2018, Berg is recognized once again – this time as a Shark –  after graduating earlier this spring with a near-perfect 3.96 GPA in Management. Additionally, during the 2020-21 academic year, the Swede was the NSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) Inter-Organization Council Chair. He also became a member of the Chi Alpha Sigma Honor Society, and received his second Fall SSC Commissioner’s Honor Roll honor to go along with his 2019-20 D2 ADA Academic Achievement Award.

In his lone season on the field thus far with the Sharks in 2019, the midfielder tallied five goals and two assists in 12 starts.

Flagler’s Sara Sandberg has been awarded the Academic All-America Team Member of the Year for Division II women’s soccer, while Alexander Wencel of West Texas A&M has been tabbed the Academic All-America Team Member of the Year on the men’s side.

For a complete list of the 2020-21 Academic All-America teams, click here.

To stay up-to-date with the Sharks throughout the offseason, follow them on Instagram and Twitter at @NSU_MSoccer.

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Watts Hires Michael Donald to NSU Men’s Soccer Coaching Staff

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A familiar face within the Sunshine State Conference, having served stints at both Embry-Riddle and Barry, Michael Donald was officially announced as the new Nova Southeastern men’s soccer assistant coach on Tuesday.

Donald most recently spent two seasons at Barry, where he acted as interim head coach of the women’s program during much of the unprecedented 2020-2021 year.

“I’m excited to join the Nova Southeastern men’s program,” Donald expressed. “Having competed against NSU both as a player, and then more recently as a coach, I am aware of the high standards that have been set. I look forward to meeting the team and getting started. Preseason can’t come quick enough!”

A native of Scotland, Donald was recognized this past spring as the Barry University Coach of the Year as a result of his efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. He originally joined the Buccaneers staff in the fall of 2019, helping guide the team to an SSC regular season title and a No. 1 seed in the SSC Tournament. Along the way, Donald coached two players to the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Team, while a combined five earned All-SSC honors.

“Michael’s passion, knowledge and personality is a great fit for our program,” said NSU head coach Matt Watts. “Michael has proven to be an outstanding assistant in the SSC, and has a great knowledge of the South Florida recruiting landscape to go along with his international contacts. Being that Michael is an ‘A-License’ coach, he will bring quality on to the pitch, which I hope will give us an extra edge in our difficult league. Michael has played at a very high level, and this familiarity will help our players improve and develop quickly. I am excited to have him in and am ready to get to work!”

Prior to his tenure at Barry, Donald returned to his alma mater, Embry-Riddle, where he worked for two seasons as a member the men’s soccer staff.

As a player at ERAU from 2008-11, Donald proved to be a standout, collecting all-conference accolades as a left back en route to leading the Eagles to conference championships in both 2009 and 2011.

Upon graduating from ERAU in 2012 with his bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Donald played professionally in Scotland, including a four-year run with AYR United in the Scottish Championship league.

Donald gained valuable coaching experience at the AYR United Football Academy for several years before transitioning into a coaching role at the Florida Elite Soccer Academy in July of 2017.

He holds both UEFA A & B coaching licenses.  

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