Arena downplays FIU being selected to finish last in Conference USA

Photo by Jasen Delgado

Steven Rowell/ Contributing Writer

The beginning of fall practice signals a new beginning for soccer at FIU with new coach Kenny Arena preparing his team for the year ahead. Arena was very optimistic about the group after the first few practices.

“They all have a very good attitude, we have a process that we’re going through to get the team where we want to be, not only by the first game but also where we want them to be at the end of the season,” Arena said. “We are just trying to establish the basics of how we want to play and after the third practice the guys are doing a good job.”
Conference USA recently released its preseason selections for who the head coaches from around the conference picked their favorite to win the championship. South Carolina edged out SMU with 65 points for the Gamecocks and 64 points for the Mustangs. FIU received just 17 points and was picked to finish last in Conference USA.

Photo by Jasen Delgado

“I would love to know how many of those predictions actually come out to be true, hopefully it’s wrong as usual,” Arena said.

Last year, SMU was picked to finish first but it was UAB that finished atop the conference, who received the most first-place votes this year with three.

“That’s fine with us, if they want to pick us to come last, we’ll just prove them wrong,” senior defender Anthony Hobbs said. “It takes pressure off us, they [other opponents] think they can show up, play the game and get the three points,  but we’re here to show them otherwise.”

Arena and Hobbs have expressed that the team’s goal this season is to make the conference tournament and to take it one game at a time.

Anthony Hobbs selected to preseason All-Conference USA team

For the second time, defender Anthony Hobbs has been named to Conference USA Preseason All-Conference Team.

“It’s an honor to be named to that team,” Hobbs said in an interview with Student Media. “It’s something that you want to be named in and you work hard for it.”

Hobbs is coming off a solid junior season after being named defensive MVP for the Panthers, and was named to the All-Conference USA First Team. During the off season, Hobbs was given a chance to train with the New Zealand U-23 Olympic team.

“All of it was an amazing experience. It was good to learn the different style because every team has different styles and just developing as a player,” Hobbs said. “It’s really good for improving your game, fitness, technique, and just playing at a high level with world class players.”
In addition, Hobbs earned a chance to play in the U-20 World Cup representing New Zealand.

“In the U20 World Cup, I played against professionals that train and play every day, and they get paid to do that, and that’s where I want to be. It was good for me in developing my game.”

Hobbs looks to finish his final season with the Panthers on a strong note.

“I definitely have goals for myself this year; I want to make sure I don’t concede too many goals and try to help out the goalie and the midfielders, make the conference teams, and work hard, and hopefully we do well,” Hobbs said.

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