Panthers saddle up to face the Broncos of Santa Clara

FIU Women's SoccerFIU Women's Soccer

Fresh off of a 3-0 victory against University of North Florida on Aug. 24, the Panthers look to boast a 2-1 record after Friday night’s match against Santa Clara University in California. FIU has zero history with the Broncos which invites lots of surprises from both teams.

If anyone holds a bit of higher ground for Friday, it’s Santa Clara, who were in the thick of things last season in a three-way tie for first place in their West Coast Conference, which earned them a top 10 rank in the NSCAA preseason poll.

The Broncos went 8-1 with 24 points in their conference, something FIU hopes to replicate in their own C-USA matches. This tough Santa Clara team will put the defense and offense of FIU to work, as the California-based team finished first in goals (62), assists (42) and shots (398) last season. Santa Clara did not finish in the bottom half of any statistical category in 2013—something else to add to their resume.

A facet of the offense that FIU has that will challenge Santa Clara is the quick-paced offense Head Coach Thomas Chestnutt has seemingly broke loose (see: UNF result). Redshirt junior Scarlet Montoya and the rest of the attacking front must find rapid shots that will need to come early and often, as opportunities are not to be wasted against the Broncos.

An interesting statistic from Santa Clara’s recent overtime loss is their lack of shots. There were only seven shots for the full 90 minutes for the Broncos, while University of California Golden Bears, their victorious opponent, had 19. Seems to be very close to FIU’s recent 18 shot performance, something the Panthers hope to mirror this weekend.

Sofia Huerta, senior forward for Santa Clara, was the top goal scorer in the West Coast Conference last season with 16 goals. A formidable match-up for the duo of Chelsea Leiva and Ashleigh Shim. Look for Leiva to find her first goal on the season, as she was just breathes away from one in Jacksonville. If there’s a bottom line to all of this, it’s how the Panthers will weather the impending storm from the stampeding Broncos.

Something that isn’t being talked about too often, and it’s something FIU can hold head and shoulders over their opponent, is their consistency. The chemistry of this Panther defense and offense gives them an advantage that cannot be drawn up in a playbook. Two seasons ago (2012), Sofia Huerta wasn’t even a top 10 player for Santa Clara. FIU has had at least one top 10 player in the past two seasons, and both are playing on August 29.

No matter the outcome, Panther women’s soccer will learn and take away from this match. With their new-found health, striking ability from multiple players and intensified midfield play, they’ll look to upset Santa Clara.

Furthermore, pay attention Johanna Volz (who has one goal on the season)—University of California Golden Bears scored the golden goal in overtime against Santa Clara on a penalty kick. Something the senior midfielder has recently familiarized herself with.

Panthers trave and look to ride off into the sun against the Santa Clara Broncos in Santa Clara, California, at 10 p.m. EST.

About the Author

James Profetto
:Staff Writer for FIU Student Media. Majoring in Broadcast Media. Sports guru with a passion for movies, music and getting to know people. Aspiring play-by-play commentator. You'll see me on TV one day.

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