Women’s soccer schedule features two SEC powerhouses

Photo by Jonathan Segal
Vanessa Martinez and Ruben Palacios/ FIUSM Staff

In the 2011 season, the FIU women’s soccer team came out on top as Sun Belt Conference Champions. However, it will be difficult to be repeat this year with the strength of schedule the Panthers face.

On June 7, head coach Thomas Chestnutt announced the 2012 19-game schedule that spans six different conferences. Two things characterize this season’s schedule: new faces and a taxing eight-game span.

The Panthers kick off the season with a three-game home stand during Parents’ Weekend as they take on Stetson and Jacksonville. The following week the Panthers will finish off their home stand when they face Morehead State.

“It’s always nice to be able to open up at home,” Chestnutt said. “You’re in comfortable surroundings, you know what the field is like, and all those good things come in to help you.”

After their season kickoff at home, the Panthers embark on their most grueling eight-game trek of the year where they are on the road for seven of the next eight games.

“We are going to hit the road, and we’re going to be road dogs for a few weeks,” Chestnutt said. “I think that is going to toughen us up and make us stronger for the end of the year.”

FIU faces three consecutive teams that each made it to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. First on the travel plans is Ft. Meyers, Fla. where FIU will take on Florida Gulf Coast (14-5-2).

Next is Gainesville, Fla. where the Panthers will compete in their toughest match of the season.  FIU will compete against the No.11 ranked Gators who finished the season with a 17-8 record.

“They have a very strong team, they do a very good job there and it will be a very tough test for us.” Chestnutt Said.

The following match doesn’t get easier as FIU travels to Louisiana to take on LSU, a top-50 team in 2011. This game will be the first ever faceoff of the two teams.

“We always want to have a tough non-conference schedule and I think this season is no different.  We want to play teams that are not going to be pushovers,” Chestnutt said. “We want to take our team to the next level, and every one of those teams should bring something different to our non-conference schedule.”

The Panthers return to their home field to take on Idaho before they head out on yet another four-game road stand. The Vandals will be making their first visit to Miami as they take on the Panthers for the first time in history.

FIU will then head on the road to participate in the Cats Classic. The match will take place in Tucson, Ariz. where the Panthers will face a couple of Pac 12 opponents, Arizona and Arizona State.  This will be the first time the Panthers play both of these teams.

The Panthers open up Sun Belt in South Alabama before they head off to Troy, Ala. to challenge the Trojans.

“When we go to play anyone in our conference, we are for sure one of their biggest games of the season. Everybody is looking to beat you when you come to them or when you play them,” Chestnutt said. “Then they see you on their schedule and they say this is one of the top teams in our conference and we have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

The Panthers then come back home to end the month of September and play Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky. These may be the toughest conference matches, as FIU was 0-1-2 in 2011 against the pair.

After a brief intermission where FIU faces North Texas on the road, they return the following week during Panther’s Alumnae Weekend to square off against Louisiana and ULM.

After their Alumnae Weekend, the Panthers will travel again, this time to Jonesboro, Ark., where they will take on the Red Wolves of Arkansas State, the team they beat in the first round of the SBC tournament.

FIU’s final home game comes against UALR and the Panthers’ final regular-season game is on the road against FAU, a team they have beat three consecutive times.

The Panthers hope to participate in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament that will take place in Mobile, Ala. (Oct. 31-Nov. 3). Following this tournament will be the NCAA Championship that is scheduled to begin on Nov. 10-16 in San Diego, Calif.

About the Author

Ruben Palacios
is the Assistant News Director of FIU student media, a sports junkie and a sneaker enthusiast. Not necessarily in that order. Loves the L.A. Lakers and Oakland Raiders. In that order.

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