FIU was able to avoid being defeated for the third game in a row, but could not achieve victory as their game against the Elon University Phoenix ended in a nil-nil draw, Wednesday evening.
For the second game in a row, the Panthers outshot their opponents and had more corner kicks, but were not able to get the winning result. FIU finished the game with 11 shots and four corner kicks while holding Elon to only 10 shots and zero corner kicks throughout the game.
The Panthers saw a change in goal for them against Elon, as redshirt freshmen David Mitchell had the start. Mitchell, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, had a nice outing including the first save of the game in the 19th minute. Phoenix senior forward Jason Waterman challenged Mitchell but could not beat him as he made his first of four saves, keeping the game leveled.
FIU’s best chance of the first half came after junior midfielder Daniel Gonzalez played a cross in the box from senior Roberto Alterio in the 38th minute, however, senior goalkeeper Nathan Dean jumped on the ball and made the save before the Panthers could get the shot off. Dean, who finished the night with just three saves, recorded his third shutout of the season and the 19th of his career, tying him for second all-time in school history.
Once again for the Panthers, it was the pressure they applied in the second half that created more chances for them to win the game, a type of play that usually comes after the first 45 minutes are over.
Elon was outplayed by FIU in the second half, but neither team was able to get the winning goal in regular time forcing extra time.
The best chance of the game came a minute into the extra time period when sophomore defender Marvin Hezel was issued a cross by Gonzalez. Hezel, FIU’s target on set pieces standing at 6’3, made great contact with his head firing the ball into the cross bar before Dean made the save. This time, the posts were not friendly to FIU.
The rest of extra time saw no better chances for either team as the game would end in a draw, a result neither team was looking for. Once again the chances were there for FIU, just unable to capitalize and find the back of the net.
The center referee, Bill Dittmar, played an important factor in the game as he called 41 total fouls throughout the 90 minutes and also issued seven yellow cards, four to Elon and three to FIU.
Senior forward and captain Quentin Albrecht once again made the starting 11 for the Panthers as the only striker after failing to score last game against Stetson in the same role. One issue Head Coach Scott Calabrese addressed last week was how it is still early and he wanted to experiment with different line ups and formations as the season progressed, especially after it was clear that the Panthers had been creating more chances when Albrecht had more help up top.
“I think we’re going to need to experiment a little with our formation. It’s something we’ll have to look at,” said Calabrese after the Stetson loss.
Albrecht, on the other hand, enjoys being the lone striker and wants the role coach has been giving him up top. “I like the system we’ve played. I like to be up top as the central forward, it is where I feel comfortable playing.”
It will be interesting moving forward to see how Calabrese handles the formation, and if he chooses to add another striker up top with Albrecht in the starting 11, or continue playing five midfielders and leaving Albrecht where he is more comfortable.
Next up for FIU will be a return home for Calabrese, when the Panthers take on ETSU on Sept. 16. Calabrese spent the last six years coaching the Buccaneers before moving to Miami and taking the FIU position.