Will Duval | Sports Director
The FIU women’s soccer team is taking on the Sam Houston Bearkats in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023 in Ruston, Louisiana.
Participating for the first time since 2013, the Panthers finished their regular season with an 8-5-4 record. Despite getting off to a 7-2-1 start, one of the strongest in the program’s history, they went 1-3-3 over their last seven games.
To close out the season, they traveled to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to face off with the the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on Friday, Oct. 27.
Falling 2-0 in that game, scoring and accuracy were what separated the two teams.
Entering the match, the Blue Raiders held a 5-9-3 record and severely struggled against conference opponents.
They held a 1-5-1 record when playing CUSA teams and collected their first win in their previous game against Jacksonville State Gamecocks.
Starting the game slowly, both teams exchanged fouls and shots until the 32-minute marker.
Claiming an early 1-0 lead, FIU needed to push back on offense before their opponent could grow the lead further.
Closing out the first period, they took four shots and none found the back of the net. Two shots came within the 44-minute marker and both were swatted away by graduate student goalkeeper Hannah Suder.
Looking to set a different tone in the second period, the Panthers started it off by making a defensive stance.
Freshman goalkeeper Gwen Jordan made three saves in three minutes and prevented the Blue Raiders from scoring.
Thwarting multiple scoring attempts, MTSU was able to find another scoring opportunity at 59-minutes.
Setting up her teammates once again, Gough made a pass to sophomore forward Idun Kvaale who scored and gave them a 2-0 lead.
Falling into a late-game deficit, FIU needed to score before time ran out and would make multiple attempts.
At the 70-minute mark, they took six shots in a two minute span, but none of them resulted in points. Inaccuracy was a recurring issue for the Panthers all game long.
Unable to rally a comeback, they took a 2-0 loss to the Blue Raiders and lost their final two games of the regular season.
Shutout in the game, Suder rejected any opportunity that FIU had to score and recorded a clean sheet with seven saves.
While the Panthers were able to make five saves of their own, they took 23 shots in the game and couldn’t score on a single one. MTSU took ten shots and seven were on goal, which was the same number as their opponent.
Heading into the CUSA tournament, FIU is facing off with the Bearkats, who they dominated in their previous matchup on Sep 21.
In that game, three different Panthers scored in the second half and helped push them to a 3-0 victory.
Graduate student Ithaisa Vinoly recorded three saves and a clean sheet, solidifying their defense for the entire match.
Since then, SHSU went 2-2-2 over their last six games and finished their season with a 5-6-4 record.
Struggling offensively, they scored 18 goals over their entire season and allowed 25 to opponents.
Looking at FIU’s offense, they outscored the Bearkats in their first five games alone. In their first five games of the season, they outscored opponents 21-2 and were a potent force on both sides of the ball.
Scoring at a high rate, it was unsustainable over the course of a whole season, but they were still able to amass a total of 36 goals on the season.
Over their last five games, the Panthers were outscored 7-5 and struggled keeping up with their opponents. If they want to move on in the tournament, they need a return to form on both sides of the ball.
Playing in the CUSA tournament for the first time in a decade, the FIU women’s soccer team is traveling to Murfreesboro, Tennessee to take on the Sam Houston Bearkats on Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023.
First-off is set for 5:30 p.m. at Robert Mack Caruthers Field and the game will be broadcasted on ESPN+.
Follow Will Duval on X: @WillDuval40