FIU's first match in the NCAA women's soccer tournament will be at Central Florida (11-4-5) Friday at 7 p.m. The winner faces the winner of Florida Gulf Coast (14-4-2) vs. Florida (16-7), both teams FIU lost to at home early this season. FIU lost to Florida 2-0 on Aug. 21, and Gulf Coast 3-2 on Sept. 9, the latter after holding a 2-0 lead.
FIU coach Thomas Chestnutt said UCF was perhaps the one team in Florida he didn't know much about, but "I'm not concerned about that. They're always a good team."
Besides, Chestnutt feels his team is "in a good place" mentally and physically. Certainly, since beating Western Kentucky on penalty kicks for the Sun Belt championship, they've been bathing in joy.
"It's been crazy," sophomore Nicole DiPerna said. "We've all been on such an emotional high for a while. We were at dinner (Saturday night at Toots) and were like, 'We actually won!' Coach told us to order anything we want and we kind of went crazy. Right know, walking in to see who we'd play, we felt like we were going to another game, we were all so excited and hyped."
Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton has been invited to the 2012 Senior Bowl, Jan. 28 in Mobile, Alabama. Hilton's the first FIU player to be invited to the event, attended by almost every NFL scout, coach and agent.
Though it seems the jelly's out of the donut on the football season after Saturday's touchdown-free loss at Western Kentucky, there's still, somehow, a shot at a bowl for FIU. Although, frankly, I don't think there's a better argument that there are too many bowls than a fourth place Sun Belt team getting in one.
Over the weekend, Tampa Alonso safety Jordan Davis verbally committed to FIU as did Titusville Astronaut quarterback Favian Upshaw.
Long snapper Mitch McCluggage sprained his knee Saturday. If he can't go Saturday, expect freshman Brandon Taylor to take that job so underrated by most fans...until their team suffers an ill-timed bad snap. Mario Cristobal said defensive tackle Joshua Forney was "ready to go this week" despite not playing Saturday but free safety Chuck Grace wasn't as close as they thought.
Defensive lineman James Jones did some extra drills after practice, a punitive measure for his unnecessary roughness penalty during Saturday's game. The penalty, after a third down stop, extended a Western Kentucky drive that eventually amounted to nothing, but in a defensive struggle, giving up 15 yards of field position is like giving up a 30-yard play in a normal game. On the game's most important call, the unnecessary roughness call on Isame Faciane that turned a Bobby Rainey 12-yard reception into a 27-yard play on the drive to the game-winning field goal.
"I just think that's playing hard football. At the end, it's a discretionary call. I'm not taking a shot at an official, they've got to call it as they see it," Cristobal said. "You're looking at two teams trying to find a way to win, trying to get their best player out of bounds. It wasn't like he took a shot at the young man or tried to hit him. He's trying to make sure he gets out of bounds and save us a few yards, whatever it may be, as they're trying to get into field goal range, that they're pushed back as far as they can be. That one's easy to talk about unless you're on the field and trying to hunt down that kid as fast as he is...that's a tough call."
Larry Milian, The Amigo on 640AM's "Armando and The Amigo" morning show (or, as this caffeine mainliner thinks it should be called since the addition of Chris Perkins, "Morning Sports Colada and Black Coffee"), will be doing the radio color on this week's FAU-FIU game. Rick Sanchez has a prior committment.
SWIMMING AND DIVING
Saturday: Drama Queens and Kings Day. The football team's loss in the late afternoon. The women's soccer team outlasting Western Kentucky on penalty kicks for the Sun Belt title earlier in the afternoon. And somewhere between all that, the swim team's meet with FAU and Florida Southern coming down to the 400 Free Relay.
Or, at least, that's how it seemed at the time.
Behind Stanley Cup playoff sudden death overtime, NFL playoff sudden death overtime and the last laps of a close auto race, I'll put a track or swim meet coming down to a final relay as the most exciting setup in sports. The speed and co-dependence involved might as well be an adrenaline IV to me. FIU trailed FAU by 12 and needed a 1-2 finish by their 400 Free Relay teams. So take the normal quality and depth involved in winning the relay and double it.
FIU's No. 1 team Vicnan Torres, Nadai Farrugia, Colleen Quinn and Johanna Gustafsdottir came home first in 3:35.89 and the No. 2 team of Kayla Derr, Kariann Stevens, Chelsie Kidd and Kelly Grace powered home in 3:37.05 to give FIU a 119-118 win over FAU (Florida Southern was drowned, 194.5-35.5).
FIU also won the 200 Medley Relay with Stevens, Sonia Perez Arau, Klara Andersson and Mariangela Macchiavello in 1:49.73; the 200 Back with Perez Arau in 2:02.66; and diving with Sabrina Beaupre rolling up 275.7 points.
But FAU protested the 200 Back result, claiming the electronic timing system showed Ivana Lefanowicz had outtouchced Perez Arau. Officials agreed and the reversal of the event meant FAU won the meet 123-114.