Panthers split weekend Sun Belt matches, looking toward unbeaten North Texas

(Jonathan Segal/ The Beacon)

Michael Ortega/ Contributing Writer

The start of conference play has come and gone, and after facing two top Sun Belt Conference opponents, FIU is at 3-1 record.

First up was Middle Tennessee on Sept. 28 on a cloudy night, where FIU lost 3-1 in a sloppy game.

“The game got away from us on Friday,” said Coach Thomas Chestnutt.

The Panthers (6-5-1, 3-1 SBC) did not start the game off too badly, scoring one goal in the 41st minute by forward Chelsea Leiva making it 2-1 going into the half. The second half of the game was another story: FIU looked out of place, making a few mistakes and allowed MTU to capitalize.

“I think, as a whole, we weren’t on the same page. We didn’t get enough put together and we didn’t come out and do it,” said midfielder Johanna Volz.

The second game this weekend was against Western Kentucky on a scorching Sunday afternoon. FIU took the double-overtime win 1-0, playing with all they had to make sure they didn’t lose to another conference opponent.

“It was a great game. Western Kentucky is a class team in our conference, and you know, we wanted this win to get a win at home,” said Chestnutt. “We have gone 0-0 ties in the last two seasons against them, so it was great to get the win.”

It was another hard-played game by both the Panthers and the Hilltoppers both minimizing turnovers. FIU attacked in overtime to make the only goal in the game, by midfielder Volz, in the 94th minute.

“It felt good to beat these guys, you know. We have a rivalry with them,” said Volz. “It was nice to bounce back after Friday’s game.”

TOP PERFORMERS

Two players on the offensive and defensive line, respectively, stood out.

Volz took charge on the offensive line, always attacking and setting up her teammate to score. Volz did not score on Friday but was a crucial part of the offense. She had the game-winning goal on the Sunday overtime win, giving her three for the season. She is at three goals for the season.

“I used Friday’s game as motivation for Sunday,” said Volz.

On the other side of the field, Caroline Hernandez played great defense in both games. She played hard on every ball and had a few takeaways of her own. On Sunday, she played solidly, forcing an opponent to a turnover and pushed a few plays out of bounds.

“We have been playing hard and sliding together all weekend,” said Hernandez. “We have been practicing hard and been working on how to pinch so we don’t get split.”

COMING UP

FIU leaves home-field advantage next weekend against another tough conference rival, North Texas, on Oct. 7. The game will be the only matchup for next weekend, giving the Panthers a little rest before heading cross country.

Last year, FIU took the win at home against NT (9-3-1, 4-0 SBC) showing strong offense and defense. FIU’s offense was lackluster in the past two weekends.

“We are going to be looking to combine more, keep the ball and combine try to slip it through and get it into that net,” said Volz.

FIU looks to bounce back into the top of the conference, but will need to win this weekend and return home for a tough matchup against Louisiana- Lafayette and Louisiana Monroe on Alumni Weekend, Oct. 12 and Oct. 14.

“We have to get better, game after game,” Chestnutt said. “Middle Tennessee asked a few questions, but we will answer back next weekend against North Texas.”


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