Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU men’s soccer team collected their second win in a row and claimed a 1-0 victory over the FGCU Eagles on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 at the FGCU Soccer Complex in Fort Myers, Florida.
Coming off a blowout 5-1 win over the Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday, Oct. 14, they held a 7-2-3 record coming into this matchup.
In that game, five different Panthers scored the team’s five goals and they tied their single-game season high in goals this season.
Vs. Saint Mary’s:
Entering this matchup, the Gaels held a 5-4-2 record and were on a three-game losing streak. They took a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the San Diego Toreros in their previous match on Saturday, Oct. 7.
To start the match, Saint Mary’s came prepared to attack and scored 17-minutes into the first period.
Junior forward Riley Lynch took the Gael’s first shot of the night and scored their only goal of the night.
After falling into an early 1-0 deficit, FIU began to fight back, taking two unsuccessful shots on their opponent’s goal.
Looking for offense, they subbed in senior forward Simon Afrifa near the 31-minute mark and he immediately made an impact.
About four minutes later, Afrifa scored off an assist from graduate student Philip Hildebrandt and tied the game at 1-1.
Evening up the score before the end of the first period, FIU was able to carry their offensive momentum into the second half.
Opening up the second period, both teams remained in a stalemate until the Panthers substituted junior midfielder Diego Castillo into the game at the 60:30 mark.
Immediately making an impact, he scored a goal only six seconds later and gave his team a 2-1 advantage.
That score marked the beginning of an offensive eruption for FIU, as their next would come two minutes later.
Jumping out to a 3-1 lead, the Panthers offense scored at will and didn’t plan on letting up.
Finishing off their opponent, Mustre and graduate student midfielder Francesco Renzi each added one more goal, helping FIU secure a 5-1 victory.
Showcasing their depth in a team performance, they improved their season record to 7-2-3 following the win.
Prior to this match, the Eagles held a 3-4-4 record and had not won a game since their 2-1 victory over the North Florida Ospreys on Sep. 30, 2023.
That victory pushed their record to 3-2-3 on the season, but their positive record would not last long. After a tie and two losses in a row, they entered the game winless in the month of October.
Historically, FIU held an 11-4 all-time record against FGCU and dominated the series in recent years. They had won the past four games in a row, with the Eagles unable to win a game since Oct. 3, 2018.
Starting off the game contentiously, both teams combined for nine fouls in the first 15-minutes of the game.
Unaffected by the physical play, the Panthers matched the energy of their opponent and were able to strike first.
Only three minutes after subbing into the game, senior midfielder Andrew Bennett assisted Afrifa on a goal.
Taking a 1-0 lead, FIU scored the first and only goal of the game for either team. The remainder of the game was a highly pressured defensive battle.
To end the first half, both teams combined for 23 fouls and four yellow cards. The Panthers were responsible for 12 fouls and three of the yellow cards but were still able to protect their lead.
For the start of the second half, both teams received an offsides penalty and set a tone for the rest of the match.
Senior midfielder Landon Ameres took two shots in an attempt to jump start FGCU’s offense, but both were off target.
Focused on protecting their lead, FIU only took two shots during the second half, as they spent most of their time on defense.
Despite committing ten fouls in the second half, amounting to 22 for the game, the Panthers were able to hold on and take a 1-0 win.
Holding down the defense, Hogan collected four saves in the game, three of which came during the second half.
Showing their prowess, they shot the ball with more accuracy than their opponent, as they only took five shots compared to the Eagles’ 12 shots.
Improving their record 8-2-3 following the defensive slugfest, the Panthers won their second game in a row.
Looking to open up a win-streak, FIU men’s soccer is traveling to Boca Raton, Florida to take on the FAU Owls on Friday, Oct. 20, 2023.
First-off is set for 7 p.m. at the FAU Soccer Stadium.
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40