Carla Mendez | Staff Writer
The FIU Men’s soccer team is facing off with one of their long-standing foes, the UCF Knights on Tuesday, Sep. 5, 2023 in Orlando, Florida.
Last time these two teams met was on Oct. 9, 2022, where the Panthers took a 3-1 loss to the Knights. Despite the point differential, the game was electrifying with FIU putting a substantial amount of pressure on the knights in the first half of the match.
However, UCF’s counterattack near the 25-minute mark led to a penalty kick, which allowed the Knights to take a 1-0 lead.
As they looked to even the score, the Panthers were able to secure a goal in the nine minutes that followed. Graduate student defender Philip Hildebrandt kicked the ball into the bottom right corner of the net and equalized the score at 1-1.
In what remained of this period, the Panthers were unable to keep pace with the Knights’ scoring, entering the half in a 2-1 deficit.
Following intermission, the Panthers couldn’t find any offensive production, but their defense held strong until the 77-minute mark. The Knights caught the Panthers’ defense off-guard, which gave them a 3-1 lead late in the game.
Unable to hold off the Knights’ attack, the Panthers took a 3-1 loss despite their defensive efforts.
Looking for redemption in this matchup, FIU has had a strong start to the 2023 season, holding two wins and a tie, technically making them undefeated.
Leading the charge for the Panthers is senior goalkeeper Tyler Hogan, who has effectively been an impenetrable force for the defense. Through their first three matches, FIU only allowed one goal, with Hogan securing 13 saves.
UCF has had a hot start to their season, bolstering a perfect 3-0 record. Their most recent match was on Friday, Sep. 1, 2023, where they took a 3-1 victory against the NC State Wolfpack.
Returning for the Knights is sophomore goalkeeper Juanvi Munoz, who started 13 matches as a freshman. Building upon his resume, he has made six saves in three starts this season.
If the Panthers want to rectify their previous match with the Knights, they must continue their defensive dominance and prevent scoring. Staying disciplined and composed could help FIU hand UCF their first loss of the year.
The match will take place at the UCF Soccer Complex in Orlando, Florida.
Kickoff is at 7:00 p.m. with the game being streamed on ESPN+.
Follow Carla Mendez on X: @carladfmendez