Caesar Alva/Contributing Writer
After a long season, the FIU Panthers have finally reached their final game.
At 6-8-1, the Panthers have the opportunity to nudge closer to .500 and end the season on a positive note, on Nov. 7.
On the other hand, the Old Dominion University Monarchs (8-6-1) look to get another victory in front of their home crowd. With points still available, the Monarchs will be looking forward to rising in the standings and getting better seeding for the Conference USA Tournament.
Even late this season, there is more than enough left at stake for both sides. Points, seeding, dignity, redemption and, ultimately, the satisfaction of winning the last game of the season will determine who adds the victory to their column.
Neither side will be looking to lose, which adds high intrigue for what looks to be a great game.
Panthers continue to roar proudly:
17 games in and ninth in the standing for C-USA, the Panthers officially have no mathematical probability of qualifying to the C-USA tournament or the NCAA tournament with a sub .500 record.
However, not all is bad news.
In fact, the Panthers had won 3 games in a row before narrowly coming up short against No. 25 Kentucky. Now, they have the opportunity to redeem themselves against another highly competitive team.
Although the Monarchs are not ranked, at 38th, they still pose a strong threat to the Panthers. Their impressive defeats of ranked foes University of Alabama at Birmingham and University of North Carolina at Charlotte go to prove that.
FIU had not been shut out against an opponent since playing on the road against Conference rival University of New Mexico. In fact, this has only happened three times this season, twice against top 25 opponents.
The amount of offensive firepower has been consistent throughout the season.
“There is something we have to improve within our team, but we’re not too far away. If we do a couple of things differently against our opponents, we can win those games,” Head Coach Scott Calabrese pointed out.
The season has not been an easy one for the Panthers, but that did not stop senior forward Quentin Albrecht from scoring one third of the goals for the Panthers.
With 7 goals this season, his offensive scoring power pushed the Panthers to another level. The next season will be different without his presence and leadership. Coach Calabrese agreed.
“I think Quentin gives you something hard to find,” Calabrese said.
With the last game of their collegiate careers, all four seniors: defender Sean McFarlane, midfielder Nelson Milsant, midfielder Roberto Alterio and captain Albrecht will make sure to leave everything they have on the field when playing on Friday.
Monarchs begin to find their identity:
Just like the Panthers, the Monarchs have experienced a roller coaster type of season, to say the least.
Fourth in the standings, the Monarchs have a chance to win their final game at home, and end with a third place seeding in the C-USA tournament and a great possibility of qualifying for the NCAA tournament.
Although the standings may not necessarily show it, the Monarchs have had one strange but successful year. The Monarchs started the season losing their first three games, but since then have gone 9-3-1— two of those defeats coming by a narrow one-goal difference. Nevertheless, the Monarchs were impressive throughout the season, grinding out games, even by the slightest margin.
Their upsets on ranked rivals UNC at Charlotte and UAB only gave Old Dominion more hope in their season. They proved that they could hang with the heavyweights of the Conference.
Lead by Head Coach Alan Dawson, the Monarchs expect to continue their successful season and grind out another tough game against an anxious FIU Panther team.
While the Monarchs are in the bottom half of the Conference for goals, with only 17 scored, they are also in the top half of the Conference when it comes to goals allowed. Overall, Old Dominion has been a balanced team.
Their consistency and tenacity will be needed in order to defeat the Panthers. Both teams are set for a battle.
Following this game, the Old Dominion Monarchs will be ready to participate and host the 2014 C-USA tournament from Nov. 12 to Nov. 16 at the ODU Soccer Complex in Norfolk, Virginia.