Panthers suffocate early, lose 2-0 in Tennessee

The Panthers, coming off a rain delay and rescheduled match in Birmingham, Ala., found themselves in Murfreesboro, Tenn., Sunday, Oct. 12 against a familiar Middle Tennessee State University team. The conditions of the field were sloppy and wet from the previous days’ rain, a situation seen more than a few times this season.

MTSU was relatively quiet coming into the Oct. 12 match, but the muzzle came off quickly for the Blue Raiders. Early chances were popping up all over the field, but the disciplined Panther defense was jaded to any premature pressure—until the 26th minute. MTSU freshman Peyton McCollum launched a screamer from 15 yards out, finding the left side netting. Before the MTSU goal, women’s soccer Head Coach Thomas Chestnutt’s defense squandered many opportunities. A shot in the fourth minute was deflected wide by a Panthers defender and two more were blocked shortly after.

After seeing the scoreboard light up in MTSU’s favor, the Panthers offense began to click. In a five-minute span, four shots were found testing the Blue Raiders goalkeeper Kelsey Brouwer. Redshirt senior forward Chelsea Leiva’s shot went wide, freshman midfielder Courtney Phillips’ went wide of goal, junior midfielder Madlen Weinhardt’s shot was blocked and senior midfielder Johanna Volz’ was saved by Brouwer (six total saves).

Not being phased by the onslaught of chances from the Panthers, MTSU countered with only one shot of their own, and one that counted for a 2-0 lead. Kelsie Roberts for the Blue Raiders took advantage of a corner kick at the 43rd minute mark to put her team ahead for what eventually was the remainder of the game.

In the second half, the Panthers were not ready to lie down and accept the deficit at hand. Outshooting MTSU 11-7 in the first half, the trend continued into the last 45 minutes. The Panthers had eight shots to MTSU’s four, but none that found the back of the net. Leiva continued to pressure the Blue Raiders, picking up where she left off with an impressive eight shots of her own. The team shots on goal for the game totaled six, a number that surely isn’t bad.

With the road loss, the Panthers fell to 6-6-1, 1-2-1 in Conference-USA. With four points, a win can control their destiny by moving up the standings drastically, thanks again to their .500 overall record.

Sitting at ninth place in C-USA, Chestnutt and his team are peeking into the window of the top eight. MTSU became relevant again by squeaking into the eighth spot with a 5-6-2, 2-2-1 record.

On the horizon are a slew of top-talent matches with two of the top three C-USA teams. Rice University on Oct. 17 and North Texas University on Oct. 19 will provide the toughest weekend the Panthers have seen at home this season.

With all the chances and on-goal opportunities the Panthers have seen over the past two games (FAU, MTSU), the Panthers will look to finally reward their hard work and hustle with a bundle of goals that can gift-wrap their team to victories over the next two games in Miami.


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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