Panthers defeat Owls in finale and clinch No. 2 seed in conference tourney

Photo by Jonathan Segal

Photo by Jonathan Segal

By: Anthony Guivas /Staff Writer

With all the twists and turns that this season has had for the Golden Panthers, the women’s soccer team has been able to right the ship and make this 2011 season one worthwhile.

After a few bumps on the road to start the season, the Golden Panthers have been able to achieve a record of 10-6-2 overall and a record of 7-1-2 in the SBC.

“We had a couple of slip ups when we went on the road to Tennessee and Kentucky, but overall, I felt we had a great season…we just got better and better and I’m very happy with it,” head coach Thomas Chestnutt said.

So with one game remaining in the season, FIU hosted FAU for the final game of the season on Oct. 28.  FIU made sure that night was memorable, as the Golden Panthers defeated FAU by a score of 3-1.

Not only did this Friday conclude FIU’s regular season, it carried much more significance as it was senior night for the Golden Panthers.

This was the last game in the FIU soccer stadium that would host the talents of seven Golden Panthers, such as Kelly Ann Hutchinson, April Perry, Victoria Miliucci and Deanna Rossi.

Once FIU and FAU took the pitch, the Owls started off on the right foot, and they scored in the seventh minute of regulation. FAU’s Jesse Shugg was able to reject a light kick by goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage, which resulted in the ball rolling into FIU’s net.

The goal gave FAU a quick 1-0 lead in the first half, but that momentum was short lived as FIU’s offense came alive in a big way.  The tables turned on FAU right after the seventh minute as the Golden Panthers began pressuring the Owls defense time after time.

The Golden Panthers created some one-on-one chances against FAU in the first half, but to the Owls’ credit, their defense was able to keep FIU at bay and preserve their 1-0 lead.
But the second half was a different story when FIU’s offense became FAU’s kryptonite, as the Owls defense broke apart.

In the 55th minute, FIU’s Chelsea Leiva began driving the ball within FAU territory, and when she stepped within the box, the Owls fouled Leiva out of desperation.

The referees then called a penalty kick in favor of FIU, which resulted in Leiva drilling home the tying goal of the game. This was not the last time Leiva scored. In the 57th minute she struck again.
Leiva took a great assist from freshman Johanna Volz and beat the keeper, delivering the second goal of the game for the Panthers.

The night concluded on a fitting note as senior Carly Jones scored the third and final goal of the game, which happened to be the first goal of her career.

“This team does some fantastic things on the field. The things they do, game in game out, it’s been great,” Chestnutt said.

With this win, the Panthers conclude the season with an overall record of 11-6-2 and a conference record of 8-1-2.

So with the 2011 season in the books, the Golden Panthers look ahead to the SBC tournament, which begins on Nov. 2.

“As far as the tournament is concerned, we should have all the confidence in the world,” Chestnutt added.

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