Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU men’s soccer team plays their first non-conference match in five games against the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
Bolstering a 6-2-3 record this season, the Panthers dominated their recent stretch of games following a 2-2-2 start.
After going on a four-game winning streak, their momentum was brought to a halt in their match against the No. 3 ranked SMU Mustangs on Sunday, Oct. 8.
That match saw FIU fight back from falling behind two goals in the first period, as the Mustangs came out of the gates ready to charge on offense.
Taking an early 1-0 lead, SMU quickly scored again near the 26-minute mark following a foul from graduate student defender Philip Hildebrandt.
Due to the foul, the Mustangs were rewarded with a penalty kick and Dallman’s shot found the back of the net.
Jumping out to an early 2-0 lead, the Panthers needed to generate some offense before the deficit grew insurmountable.
With less than six minutes remaining in the first period, FIU was able to answer back and put their first point on the board.
Able to build offensive momentum heading into halftime, the Panthers’ energy carried over into the second period.
Nine minutes into the second period, junior forward Bernardo Dos Santos Monteiro scored off another assist from Castillo and tied the game at 2-2.
Scoring the final goal for either team, the remainder of the match was a contentious defensive battle. Both teams combined for five yellow cards in the second half, as there were only six given out during the entire game.
Attempting to put away the game for SMU, sophomore forward Alexander Petraeus took a shot on FIU’s goal near the 82-minute mark.
Making a timely stop, graduate student Tyler Hogan thwarted the shot and kept the game at a 2-2 stalemate.
Following Hogan’s defensive stance, junior forward Eduardo Mustre made a last-ditch effort to secure a goal with less than a minute left in the game, but his shot didn’t connect with the goal.
Reaching its conclusion in a 2-2 tie, FIU had their four-game win streak snapped. Despite not being able to finish off their opponent, they rallied and made a two-goal comeback on the No. 3 ranked team in the country.
Looking to get back on track in their next match, the Panthers are taking on Saint Mary’s for the first time in program history.
Vs. Saint Mary’s:
After a 5-1-2 start to their season, the Gaels are currently in the midst of a three-game losing streak and dropped to a 5-4-2 since then.
In their most recent match against the San Diego Toreros on Saturday, Oct. 7, they took a 2-1 loss and were prevented from scoring.
Junior forward Riley Lynch leads the team with four goals this season on 28 total shots, which also the highest on the team.
Statistically, the Gaels have a 12.4% shooting percentage as a team, which is relatively lower than FIU’s 14.4% shooting percentage.
Where Saint Mary’s thrives is as a defensive team, as they only allow an 11.8% shooting percentage to other teams. This is compounded by the fact that they’ve allowed less goals than they’ve scored this season.
They have also only collected 17 yellow cards this season and have proven to be a disciplined team that doesn’t let their emotions overcome them.
Comparing the Panthers, they’ve accumulated a total of 35 yellow cards this season and have more than doubled the Gaels.
If FIU wants to leave the matchup victorious, they must execute their offensive game plan and play a disciplined game. They cannot afford to give away free points due to preventable penalties.
When playing a team with a less efficient offense, they cannot be intimidated by a formidable defense and play down to their opponent’s level. Focus and composure, while they’re basic factors, can ultimately be the differentiator of this game.
Meeting for the first time in either program’s history, the FIU men’s soccer team looks to protect their home field against the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023 in Miami, Florida.
First-off is set for 7 p.m. at the FIU Soccer Stadium and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Saint Mary’s: 0
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40