Panthers fall short against FGCU and UF

(Jonathan Segal/ The Beacon)

Michael Ortega/ Contributing Writer

The defending Sun Belt champions could not muster up any offense as they were shutout in both games against Florida Gulf Coast University and No.22 University of Florida.

FGCU 1, FIU 0

FIU first faced the FGCU Eagles in Ft. Myers on Aug. 31. They came out with the same enthusiasm they had against Stetson and Jacksonville, attacking and playing tough defense.  Even though they played with a lot of effort, it was not enough to stop the Eagles who had 14 shots, twice as many as FIU.

Junior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage was playing at the top of her game, collecting nine saves in just the first half. It was more than the total saves she has had in the last two games combined.

“Kaitlyn was great,” said head coach Thomas Chestnutt. “She was at the top her game all weekend.”

The Panthers also attacked the Eagles with seven shots of their own in the first half. The Eagles goalkeeper, Brittany Brown, was able to amass three of her own saves as well.

After halftime, the Panthers defense and offense did not look much better, allowing the Eagles to take another eight shots.

“We did not come out with enough effort in the second half,” Chestnutt said. “We couldn’t execute our game plan.”

Savage had three more saves in the second half but let the game-winning goal get past her in the 63rd minute. Forward Shannen Walker made the goal with the assist from mid fielder Ally Kasun. The shot was taken from inside the box and making it past the goalkeeper just to the left.

FIU tried to rally back with two penalty kicks from two fouls but couldn’t find the inside of the goal.

UF 3, FIU 0

FIU had their toughest challenge yet playing against their first ranked team this season and in front of a crowd of 1,921.

Florida showed why they were nationally ranked by coming out and shooting 15 shots in the first half to FIU’s four. Savage recorded another six saves in the first half but allowed two shots to pass, giving the lead to Florida 2-0 before halftime.

The first shot was made by mid fielder Havana Solaun with the assist coming from forward Tessa Andujar in the 12th minute. It was a her first of two goals of the game.

The second goal was an eight-yard tap in by forward Mckenzie Barney in the 26th minute.

After halftime, FIU stepped up their defense to hold Florida to only nine shots. Their offense was still staggered by the Gators defense holding them to only four shots in the second half.

FIU did put together three of their four corner shots in the second half to push Florida on their heels.

Savage did not record any saves in the second half but allowed another goal that put UF up 3-0.

“This game was closer then it looked,” said Chestnutt. “I know they can beat any team in the nation.”

Next up for the Panthers is Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge on Sept. 7 at 8 p.m.

“We know LSU is going to be another tough match up but I know these girls can handle it,” Chestnutt said. “We got a whole to get ready for next weekend we will have a game plan to win,”

sports@fiusm.com

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