FIU off to best start in 12 years

Quentin Albrecht has four goals in three games for the Panthers this season (Jonathan Segal/ The Beacon)

Photo by Jonathan Segal

Francisco Rivero/Contributing Writer 

Head coach Kenny Arena has only played three games in 2012 and he’s already two wins away from matching the 2011 men’s soccer record. After defeating University of North Florida and Jacksonville, FIU is off to their best start, 3-0, of a season since 2000.

FIU 2, UNF 1

FIU  traveled up to Jacksonville, Fla where they faced  University of North Florida (1-2) on Aug. 31 and defeated the Ospreys by a score of 2-1 with both goals coming from sophomore Quentin Albrecht.

For Arena, the game was by far the biggest performance for his team early on this season.

“UNF was our best attacking performance of the year, we created almost ten really good scoring chances,” Arena said. “We only came away with two goals, but I was really happy with our ability to create really high scoring chances.”

Albrecht is coming off his second multi-goal game, his first being against Bryant University. The young forward is quickly making a name for himself, having scored every goal for the Panthers in their first two games. For Arena however, it’s just another player executing his role on the team.

“Everyone on our team has a job to do and Quentin’s job as a forward is to score goals,” Arena said. “He’s doing his part, obviously it’s a very big part but it takes our entire team and our entire staff for each win.”

The game’s first goal came from UNF’s Jean Rivaroli, the reigning Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Week. However, at the 39th minute Albrecht made his first of two goals on a header off an assist from junior Nicolas Rodriguez.

When the Panthers took the field for the second half, Albrecht sliced through the UNF defense and struck again in the 49th minute with an assist from Colby Burdette.

The Panthers once again showed a quick-striking offense mixed with a tight defense by getting off 20 shots on goal and limiting UNF to just nine. The Panthers also had an advantage over corner kicks with nine to just four for UNF.  However, FIU still was only able to get two balls through the opposing goalie.

Freshman goal keeper Robin Spiegel started his second straight game after coming off his first shutout against Bryant and held UNF to just one goal. Spiegel defended well by covering nine shots on goal however, he did not record a single save.

FIU also started to show that it was not a team that opponents are going to be able to push around. The Panthers ended up collecting 15 fouls and four yellow cards. Yellow cards that where given to freshman Lyle Lindquist, Burdette, Albrecht and senior Joseph Dawkins.

FIU 1, JU 0

On Sept. 2, FIU (3-0) defeated Jacksonville University (0-4) by the score of 1-0 behind the foot of freshman Patrick Ramdial and the goal keeping of Spiegel.

“The first half we should have scored a couple more goals but we were clearly in control of the game,” Arena said. “As the second half of the game went on fatigue set in and things got a little sloppy, however we made sure that at the very least we won the game one nothing.”

Unlike their first two games, the Panthers found themselves focusing more on the defensive side of the ball rather than the offensive side. While FIU still had their share of offensive chances by getting 14 shots on goal, JU was able to counter by getting 16 of their own shots on goal. The Dolphins also had the advantage in corner kicks with 10 to FIU’s eight.

However, goalie Spiegel was able to defend his net well by gathering up four saves and locking up his second shutout of the season.

For the Panthers their first and only goal of the game came in the 19th minute by midfielder Ramdial with an assist by senior Lucas Di Croce and freshman Daniel Gonzalez.

All was looking well for the Panthers until the 77th minute when Spiegel went down with a head injury while colliding with forward Matheus Saroli on a save situation. Saroli was quickly given a red card and was ejected from the game. However, Arena soon cleared out the air on the status of his young talented goalie.

“He’s got a few staples to the head, so we got him patched up and he should be fine for practice next week,” Arena said.

When Arena was brought in as FIU’s newest head coach for men’s soccer, he not only brought his style of play to FIU but also some very high talented players. The mixture of both has resulted in the Panthers winning their first three games of the year. To compare, the Panthers never had a three-game winning streak last year. However, for Arena the small wins are not the goal.

“Talk to me at the end of the year, I’m not going to celebrate just winning regular season games,” Arena said.  “I’m happy that we won and I’m happy that we continue to improve but our goal is to make it to the conference tournament.

FIU now looks to continue its winning streak against Wisconsin on Friday at 8:00 p.m.

About the Author

Francisco Rivero
: FIU Student Media Sports Director, Co-Host of Panther Sports Talk Live, Sports and Opinion writer, Communications major.

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