Fabio Lopez / Assistant Sports Director
FIU Women’s Soccer began life in Conference USA in dramatic fashion- losing 3-2 in double overtime against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders, followed by a 1-1 draw against the Florida Atlantic Owls where both teams were deadlocked after another double overtime period.
The Panthers are now 0-1-1 in C-USA and hold a 1-8-1 record overall as they seek to finally flip their fortunes around.
FIU traveled to the Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, Tennessee on Thursday, September 16 to kick off its C-USA campaign.
Prior to this matchup, the Panthers have historically struggled against Middle Tennessee, losing five consecutive games dating back to 2017.
Despite the odds stacked against them, FIU seemed unfazed by the matches that preceded them, attacking from the onset.
The Panthers were ultimately rewarded for their early dominance when forward Idelys Vazquez sent in a floated cross into the box which was met with a header by midfielder Jessica Magerman that left the opposing keeper with no chance of blocking it, giving FIU an 0-1 lead in the 16th minute.
Following the goal, however, the game slowed down dramatically as fouls from both sides halted play for much of the half.
Middle Tennessee began to take some more control of proceedings and ended up leveling the score in the 40th minute to make it 1-1 right before halftime.
Both teams finished the half level with three shots each. FIU committed eight fouls compared to the Blue Raiders’ five in what was a hotly contested 45 minutes.
FIU and Middle Tennessee struggled to establish themselves in the early stages in the second half, with the opening minutes once again plagued by fouls.
The Blue Raiders found the breakthrough in the 72nd and went ahead for the first time this game.
The advantage was short-lived as the Panthers responded seven minutes later, in the 79th minute, to tie the game 2-2 as forward Noemi Paquin capitalized on a mistake from the Middle Tennessee goalkeeper.
With 10 minutes to go, neither squad was able to seal a victory. This led to 10 minute overtime, where the next goal won the game. After 100 minutes played, the score remained deadlocked.
FIU seemed like they would finally get its first positive result since the season opener. But with three minutes left, in the 107th minute, the Blue Raiders scored the winning goal from a freekick to win the game 3-2 in a disheartening loss for the Panthers.
There was not much time to dwell on the result as FIU had to travel back to Miami to play in three days’ time to face off against the Florida Atlantic Owls on Sunday, Sept. 19.
Historically, the Panthers have also struggled against the Owls, losing their last six consecutive matches dating back to 2015.
Sundays’ matchup was a tamer performance by FIU as the team struggled to force any shots on goal.
This changed when Paqual took advantage of a loose ball following a corner kick to shoot a blistering strike that rammed through the Middle Tennessee defense to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage in the 14th minute and score her third goal this season.
Just like that, with only one shot on goal, FIU maintained its lead to head into halftime with a slender advantage.
The second half resulted in both teams attacking on all fronts with FIU seeking to extend its lead and FAU seeking to get back into the game.
Ultimately the Owls broke through the Panthers’ resolute defense to level the game 1-1 in the 72nd minute.
That goal did not deter either side from their game plan as the attacks continued. Despite their best efforts, neither team was able to go ahead in the scoresheet, leading to another overtime half for FIU.
FAU dominated the next 10 minutes as they took advantage of the Panthers’ fatigue from the last game but still could not find a winner. FIU held strong to keep the result intact and held firm to earn a 1-1 draw after 110 minutes of game time.
These two games demonstrated that FIU still has plenty more to offer this season. There is still hope that, given the team’s performances, they can still salvage this season and finally have results being representative of what they demonstrate on the pitch.
Next up for the Panthers is an away visit to Marshall Thundering Herd’s Hoops Family Field Stadium on Friday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. ET.