UPCOMING HOME GAMES/MATCHES
Tennis -- Friday, Saturday, Sunday, FIU Invitational. Like Adrian Peterson -- All Day.
Men's Soccer -- vs. New Mexico, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Volleyball -- vs. UTSA, Sunday, 1 p.m.
Volleyball, tied for fourth in the conference with Rice, North Texas and Florida Atlantic (which FIU beat at FAU), has a 7-4 Conference USA record and is close to clinching a spot in the conference tournament.
Women's soccer, on the other hand, needs more help than Grandma trying to put up the Christmas tree the years after Grandpa passed on as the Conference USA soccer season ends Friday and Saturday. FIU sits 10th with 12 points, two points behind UTEP and Middle Tennessee State, which sit tied in seventh and eighth. Eight teams make next week's FIU-hosted Conference USA tournament that's caused FIU to put a new coat of paint on the Soccer Stadium stands (sort of like when that Between AARP and Social Security aunt stops by the Walgreen's makeup counter before hitting the Bowl Bar on Friday night).
First, FIU (8-10, 4-5 in conference) needs to win against playing-for-pride Charlotte (6-11-1, 2-6-1) Friday night. A tie or a loss, dead, no tournament. That'll give FIU 15 points (3 points for a win, 1 or a tie, 0 for losing). Then, FIU needs ninth place Louisiana Tech needs to lose or tie against North Texas, which already clinched the regular season title. And Middle Tennessee State to beat UTEP in UTEP's season finale. That combination would do it right there. BUT...
If UTEP beats Middle Friday, then FIU needs to root for Old Dominion to keep Middle behind FIU (and, possibly, Old Dominion) in Sunday's season finale by beating Middle. Got that?
Tough position for FIU to be in after leaving for Western Kentucky and Marshall in a position to get into position. Two wins there and they would be within a lower rung team's loss of clinching a spot in the tournament. Instead, they lost 1-0 at Western in double overtime, 1-0 to Marshall, then, last Sunday, 2-0 to FAU on FIU's Seniors Day.
Takes a long time to get up the slide, not much time to come down. On the verge of following last year's stunning tournament miss with another miss, head coach Thomas Chestnutt. But unlike last year's team loaded with the kind of talented experience that begets conference title projections, this year's team came with the uncertainty of youth.
"Outside of a couple of results, I think we can be reasonably happy with our season," Chestnutt said. "We started out pretty well in the non-conference (portion), had a really tough non-conference schedule. I think we're in the top 40 in terms of opponents records. We've played some good quality teams and gotten some results. I think the last couple of games, we've lost our way in the offensive side of the game. We didn't create, didn't finish off situations we created.
"This team has in some ways has outpaced what we expected," he continued. "Not in terms of results, maybe, but in terms of their play. It's been pretty impressive. These things don't count, but, in terms of style of play, 500 passes a match -- we've never gotten close to that before. We've been there twice (this year) and we've been over 400 multiple times. The passing percentages are high -- well over 80 pct. That part of the game has gone really well.
"We knew we had no recognized goal scorer's coming into the season. So, we knew we'd have to make it by committee. That's worked to some degree. We've kind of fizzled out toward the end."
While lauding the leadership growth in the seniors and the performance improvement of sophomore defender Gaby Bovo, junior goalie Sophia Trujillo and others, Chestnutt also acknowledged, "Missing the tournament isn't acceptable for this program."