By: Cesar Alva/Contributing Writer
After fighting viciously for 90 minutes against the University of South Carolina 49ers, the Panthers men’s soccer team fell short of a victory on the road against No. 7 ranked University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a score of 4-3.
While Head Coach Scott Calabrese believes that the Panthers (3-7-1) can compete with the best, the results haven’t exactly represented FIU’s abilities. Since their game against Stetson University, the Panthers have either won or lost each of their games (excluding the game versus University of New Mexico) by a one goal margin.
The University of Central Florida Knights (1-6-4) await and are in need of a win.
Knights on the Hunt:
Just like the Panthers, out-of-conference rival UCF is not exactly what their record represents. In fact, the Knights have either tied or lost in OT in their last 4 Conference games. The Knights look to finally pick up another victory this season, after only defeating rival Florida Atlantic earlier in the season.
Head Coach Bryan Cunningham expects for his team to come out firing from the start.
After being asked “How do you keep your team motivated through the grind of a difficult schedule?” in his interview with “The Corner,” featured on the American Athletic Conference, Cunningham said “we try to prepare them for that, mentally and physically. I think the guys came away feeling good about how we played, but not necessarily good about not finding a way to get those results. We still have two good non-conference games we have to win.”
It’s clear that the UCF Knights expect to grind out the game from beginning to end.
Season Defining Game:
After losing 4 games in a row, 3 of those being Conference games, the Panthers are desperate for a win. The team has fought valiantly through the month of September, but has failed to pick up a victory in the month of October. If the Panthers are to keep up with the rest of the top tier conference foes, they must find a way to win, and they have to start now.
When it’s all said and done, much of the responsibility falls on Calabrese’s shoulders.
When questioned what his team’s Achilles heel has been, Calabrese said, “We’ve competed enough offensively. What we haven’t done well enough is read other team’s set pieces. We’ve allowed them to get where they need to be. We cannot do that if we expect to win”
After scoring and assisting in the previous 2 games, the Panthers expect for junior midfielder Daniel Gonzalez to continue providing the offensive firepower they need.
The playing field is set, and both the Panthers and Knights expect to leave everything they have on the field. Both teams look for a win, and a tie will not be enough for either side.
After the game in Miami, the Panthers go on the road on Oct. 25th to Huntington, West Virginia to take on The Thundering Herd of Marshall University at 12 p.m.
Photo Courtesy of NinerTimes