Men’s soccer drops road match against ranked FIU squad

Riley Platt, Sports Editor

MIAMI, Fla. — An away affair with one of the nation’s top teams didn’t go favorably for the University of North Florida (UNF) men’s soccer team on Tuesday, as the Florida International University (FIU) Panthers came away with a 2-0 win.

These two teams share some similarities, but they entered Tuesday’s match with very different mindsets. The Panthers were coming fresh off of a defeat of the North Carolina Tar Heels, while the Ospreys looked to bounce back from a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the UCF Knights last week.

UNF’s 0-2 record going into Tuesday’s contest didn’t do the team justice. The Ospreys had a very real chance of picking up a win against UCF, but late errors proved to be their downfall. While wanting redemption, the team entered their latest showdown with a sense of confidence, knowing that they could hang with quality opponents.

Player kicks the ball out of the corner of the field.
Herbie Steigelman (3) serves as an anchor of defense for the Ospreys, a unit which showed out in the first half. (Justin Nedrow)

This was apparent throughout the first half of play, where the Ospreys held the Panthers scoreless. Unfortunately for the blue and gray, they were also held scoreless in a game that was shaping up to be a defensive battle. To win this one, each squad would have had to make the most of every opportunity.

The Ospreys fired more shots through the first 45, but this wasn’t the case in the second half. Just five minutes after the halftime break, fancy footwork allowed FIU midfielder Yushi Nagao to find the back of the net for the game’s first goal. The Tokyo native’s first goal of the season finally gave FIU the control they’d been searching for all evening. 

Through their first two matches, scoring has been a bit of a problem for the Ospreys. Two losses yielded an average of just 0.5 goals per game, meaning that one goal could be all it took for FIU to secure a win. That being said, UNF went to work in search of an equalizer.

The Ospreys had plenty of decent chances, but nothing materialized. The unsung hero of the match was undoubtedly FIU forward Stephen Afrifa, who racked up two assists on the night. The second of these came when he found himself in the box but made the extra pass to midfielder Joao Domingues to produce the Panthers’ second goal.

With 17 minutes remaining, the Ospreys faced a 2-0 deficit. More minor chances appeared here and there, but nothing came of these either. UNF was going to need a miracle, but no such miracle came as the clock wound down.

UNF player walks across the field, with goalkeeper in the background.
UNF midfielder Luto Tom was sent off in the 88th minute after receiving a red card for his role in a late-game altercation. (Justin Nedrow)

A drastic swing of emotions took place in the latter minutes of the game for UNF midfielder Luto Tom. After a near miss on goal to cut the lead in half, Tom then drew a red card at the opposite end of the field after tempers flared following contact with FIU forward Paulo Alves.

At this point of the match, though, having one less player on the field really didn’t affect a UNF squad that was already down two goals. The Panthers finished things off to secure a 2-0 victory to improve to 3-1. Meanwhile, the Ospreys now fall to 0-3, a sight no one in the program wanted to see. 

This is not the end of the world, though, as the Ospreys open conference play on Saturday against Central Arkansas. These games are where wins and losses really matter in the grand scheme of things, so the season is far from being long gone. Following this, UNF returns home, where they will host non-conference Georgia Southern next Tuesday.


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