Historic season ends as Panthers fall to Tulsa 3-2

David Drucker/ Staff Writer

After an impressive standing among the nation’s best scoring teams and a surprising run in one of America’s strongest collegiate soccer conferences, Florida International University’s magic finally ran out. The #16 men’s soccer team (12-7-1) was eliminated 3-2 in overtime by the University of Tulsa on Thursday, Nov. 19 in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The loss in the single elimination competition prevents the Panthers from competing in further postseason action.

Although Tulsa provided pressure on offense in the first half, FIU was the first team to score in the contest. FIU broke through when the Panthers won the ball at midfield in the 16th minute. A Panther played it down the right line to Paul Marie, who beat a Tulsa defender to the ball and provided a perfect cross to the center of the box. Junior Luis Betancourt was there to answer the pass and headed it into the right side of the net for a Panther goal. Although Tulsa would apply pressure on FIU’s defense – the Hurricanes outshot the Panthers 10-3 in the first half – FIU held strong and went into the second half up 1-0.

FIU might have been able to secure the victory if it wasn’t for a disastrous start to the second half. In the 52nd minute, Tulsa’s Quinton Duncan found Juan Sanchez for the Hurricane’s seventh goal of the season. Then, four minutes later, Geoffrey Dee punched in a rebound off of junior goalkeeper, Arthur Clapot, on a penalty kick to put the Hurricanes up 2-1. After a hard-fought 26 minutes of action, FIU found the equalizer in the form of a Brad Fountain strike from 20 yards out. Regulation expired as the Panthers and Hurricanes headed into overtime knotted up at 2-2. Tulsa found the game winner five minutes into overtime. Miguel Velasquez landed a strike behind Clapot on an assist from Zack Stavrou to down the Panthers 3-2.

The loss to Tulsa ended an impressive postseason run for the Panthers. Before they faced the Hurricanes, FIU defeated Old Dominion University, the University of Kentucky and Marshall University in the Conference USA tournament to secure a bid in the national bracket. Thursday’s match also wraps up an overall successful year for the men. In head coach Scott Calabrese’s second year at the University, his Panthers achieved their best record and first NCAA appearance since 2004.

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