Season Opener Ends in Defeat for No. 18 FIU Men’s Soccer

A packed FIU soccer stadium for the season opener against Akron. (Photo from FIU Men's Soccer Twitter)

Ricky Dagand / Staff Writer 

The No. 18 ranked FIU men’s soccer team fell to the Akron Zips at home in their season opener on Aug 25th. 

A rollercoaster of a game from start to finish proved this new look FIU men’s team will provide the same excitement and intensity as last season. 

Falling behind 2-0 in the opening 20 minutes of play, the Panthers shifted their tactics and pushed to get a goal back. In the 37th minute, forward Fumiya Shiraishi shielded off to defenders and scored off the pass from Paulo Alves to give FIU its first goal of the season.

The momentum headed into the break was cut short moments later as the Zips scored with three minutes remaining in the first half. 

The Panthers found themselves in a 3-1 hole headed into the second half.

The pace of the match slowed down for the majority of the second half with both teams battling for possession of the ball. The last ten minutes of the game was an all out frenzy from both teams. 

In the 83rd minute, Simon Afrifa made an extra pass inside the box and set up Alves for the Panther’s second goal of the game. A minute later, Akron would rush down the field and score a goal of their own, making the score 4-2. 

The goal didn’t seem to shake the Panther’s psyche as the team continued to push and in the 85th minute, Shiraishi found Stephen Afrifa at the back post and the Panther closed the gap to one.

FIU piled on the pressure against Akron’s backline but a costly counterattack caught goalie Tyler Hogan near centerfield and the net was empty. The Zips scored their fifth and final goal of the game, leaving Miami with a 5-3 win. 

After the game, coach Kyle Russell only had one thing to say, 

“We weren’t good tonight,” said Russell. “We’ll be better on Monday.”

The FIU men’s soccer team will be on the road for the next two games in which they’ll face stiff competition. 

First, the Panthers head to Queens, New York on Aug. 29th to face the Red Storm of St. John’s University. The Red Storm is coming off a 11-6-3 record and rank 25th in the nation.

Next, FIU will travel to Chapel Hill on Sept. 3rd to face the No.24 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. The Tar Heels finished the season at 11-7-2 and will look to continue their success at home. 

The Panthers return home on Sept. 6, facing the North Florida Ospreys.