July 18, 2014

First game in 34 days: Arizona at FIU

Friday means there's exactly one month until Miami-Dade County Public Schools -- and private schools that work off the MDCPS calendar -- fire up again. At the end of that week, we get the first playing-for-real FIU athletic event of the 2014-15 academic year, women's soccer hosting Arizona at 7 p.m.

Among the fall sports, FIU's best chance to win the school's first Conference USA title resides with the soccer women. FIU gets back fifth-year senior forward Chelsea Leiva and redshirt junior defender Nikki Rios -- best offensive and defensive players, both injury redshirts last year -- and have eight returning starters from last year's 7-12 injury-hampered team. So, this should look more like the team that won the Sun Belt in 2011 and got upset in the 2012 Sun Belt championship by North Texas.

Among the starters lost, two had eligibility left. Defender Jazmin Jones would've been heading into her junior season at FIU after starting 11 of 19 games last season. Alas, the Gig Harbor (Wash.) High graduate transferred a continental United States closer to home, to Washington State.

Goalie Paula Zuluaga started 13 games and had a 2.18 goals against average in 2013 as a redshirt junior with a year of eligibility left on the field. In the classroom, however, she was all senior, graduating magna cum laude with a Sports Management degree and a minor in Business. She's now an assistant coach at Johnson & Wales. 

May 30, 2014

Franco & Olson; Chelsea Lately

Junior pitcher Mike Franco, in his second season after having Tommy John surgery, finished the season 9-3 with a 1.09 ERA, 112 strikeouts and 27 walks. And he's one of 36 semifinalists for the Gregg Olson Award, given to college baseball's breakout player by Toolshed Sports.

SOCCER

FIU didn't get the Ghana-South Korea men's soccer friendly on June 9, which will be played at Sun Life Stadium. But the women's soccer team definitely gets back fifth-year senior Chelsea Leiva, granted an injury redshirt for 2013 after a knee injury before the opener eliminated FIU's best player for the entire season. 

 

 

December 19, 2013

Grades & eligibility; Stewart honored

Wednesday was a furlough day for me. No pay, no play. Grades posted at FIU. For student-athletes and athlete-students, that meant "play or no play."

OK, let's be real. Nobody's worrying about the volleyball team, the track team, the swim team, etc. because nobody needs to worry about those teams when it comes to grades. The football team, on the other hand, looked at those grades like it was National Re-Signing Day.

"Grades was better than I thought" tweeted wide receiver Glenn Coleman, ineligible last season. This morning, he tweeted, "It feel good looking at them grades."

From 2013 ineligible wide receiver Willis Wright: "Got My Grades Back, All I Want To Say Is, DEAR GOD--THANK YOU!!!"

I'll bet Ron Turner's saying the same thing. That's two playmakers back for FIU next season if they can keep it up. Not saying either is out of the academic woods yet.

WOMEN'S SOCCER

As I Tweeted yesterday (I can't blog, but my Twitter is mine), redshirt sophomore midfielder Sara Stewart got honored as one of the  Conference USA Fall Spirit of Service Honorees. The award gives notice to those who combine exemplary community service wtih academic achievement and on-the-field performance. 

 

 

November 07, 2013

Women's soccer loses in Conference USA tournament

Only junior Johanna Volz could find the back of the net as North Texas gave FIU the what for, 4-1, in Wednesday's Conferece USA tournament game.

North Texas dominated the first half, taking a 2-0 lead and outshooting FIU 13-2 and getting four corner kicks to FIU's one. Volz's goal in the 58th minute got FIU back into the game as play started to even out. But goals in the 72nd and 82nd minute allowed the Mean Green to pull away.  

FOOTBALL

One note on attendance: official attendance, which is what's on the official statistics book, and what gets reported to the NCAA as attendance often differ.

November 04, 2013

Notice for football and female footballers

Hours before the women's soccer team headed for the Conference USA tournament at Rice, Conference USA announced junior forward Ashleigh Shim had been selected Second Team All-CUSA and senior midfielder Kim Lopez had made Third Team.

Shim's team-high eight goals tied the next three top goal scorers combined. Lopez picked up two goals and two assists while leading the team in shots on goal with 33.

Wednesday, FIU faces North Texas, which brings the conference's Offensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, Rachel Holden, and Defensive Player of the Year, Kelsey Hodges.

FOOTBALL

The College Football Performance Awards seems to find FIU. This week, the CFPA gave national honorable mention notice to freshman kicker Austin Taylor, who tied the school length record with his 52-yard field goal; now-punter Jake Medlock for averaging 45.0 yards on his four punts; and freshman tight end Jonnu Smith for catching 10 passes for 97 yards.

 

November 01, 2013

Women's soccer vs. North Texas in C-USA Tournament

FIU's last Sun Belt Conference tournament game in women's soccer was a 1-0 loss to North Texas in the conference championship game Nov. 4, 2012. The Panthers left gnashing teeth in frustration, feeling before the tournament and after that they were the better team.

So, funny coincidence that FIU's first Conference USA tournament game finds them pitted against North Texas, Wednesday, for the first time since that game 367 days previous. FIU's the No. 3 seed from the East Division after a 1-0 loss to Marshall Thursday night. North Texas finished No. 2 in the West.

 

October 31, 2013

Scrimmage, autographs, finish, football

Before you get all nastied up for Halloween -- or, heck, maybe after -- you can double dip athletic events at The Branch and the soccer field.

At U.S. Century Bank Arena, the men's basketball team is having an intrasquad scrimmage that'll begin at 4:30. There's a women's hoop team autograph session, too.

Then, you can pop over to see the women's soccer team's 7 p.m. season finale, against Marshall. The men's soccer team tied SMU 0-0 Wednesday night and plays it's finale next Friday at home against Charlotte.

FOOTBALL

Senior cornerback Sam Miller didn't practice again Thursday, making him doubtful for Saturday's game against East Carolina. Walk-on freshman Brad Hyman-Muhammad might start in place of Miller. East Carolina throws the ball 45 times a game.

Sophomore linebacker Patrick Jean has rejoined the team after dealing with a family issue. He'll be available to play Saturday. Substitute "Davison Colimon" in this paragraph's first sentence. Colimon won't, however, play Saturday.

October 28, 2013

Weekend leftovers

The College Football Performance Awards embraced redshirt junior safety Justin Halley for his two interceptions and freshman tight end Jonnu Smith for his two catches for 54 yards with honorable mention nods this week.

Actually, Smith got the notice for his 38-yard touchdown slalom through failed tackles and nice downfield blocks.

It's one thing when fans Tweet "Dear Medlock, transfer" and "Every deep ball thrown by Jake Medlock is underthrown, including last week. Pretty bad" (the latter from noted blog follower/message board poster ChiaPanther).

It's another thing when players retweet that, whether they're playing or not.

MEN'S SOCCER

Goals by junior Roberto Altiero (two), junior Quentin Albrecht and freshman Marvin Hezel gave FIU a 4-1 win against Kentucky. They're 6-8, 2-4 in Conference USA, planting them sixth among C-USA's 10.

Altiero, a transfer from South Florida, and Albrecht account for 13 of FIU's 27 goals this season.

WOMEN'S SOCCER

A weekend split of 1-0 games -- win at FAU and loss at Middle Tennessee -- left the women's soccer team at 7-10, 5-4 in Conference USA (leading the East Division) going into Thursday's season finale at home against Marshall.

By the way, FIU's overall record on the Conference USA website is wrong. Then again, these are the same folks who had North Texas as the Sun Belt champion in 2012 (yes) and 2011 (nope -- FIU beat Western Kentucky for the conference title) in their season preview release.

VOLLEYBALL

Another weekend split -- 3-1 loss to East Carolina, 3-0 rout of Louisiana Tech -- and FIU's 10-13, 4-6 in conference. They have two home matches left: Sunday against Rice, Nov. 17 against North Texas.

 

October 20, 2013

Golf, women's soccer up; volleyball down; football underdog

FIU leads the golf tournament that began Sunday at Sarasota's Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club. Approrpriate that, seeing as how the tournament is the 36th annual Pat Bradley Invitational, the tournament named after the World Golf Hall of Fame member and first great sports figure to attend FIU.

A 287 has FIU four strokes up on Maryland and the second best first round in the tournament's history, beaten only by FIU's 284 four years ago.

Freshman Coralia Arias led FIU with a 3-under 69 and is second overall to Missouri's Taylor Gohn's 5-under 72 and tied with Southern Mississippi's Brandi Rodriguez. Sophomores Sophie Godley (fourth, 2-under 70) and Meghan MacLaren (seventh, 1-under 71) are also in the top 10 for FIU.

The tournament continues Monday and Tuesday.

WOMEN'S SOCCER

After a third straight overtime game resulted in a 2-1 loss to East Carolina (6-8-2, 3-4) Friday, FIU (6-9, 4-3) waxed Rice (5-7-2, 3-4) 5-2. Alyssa Robinson had three assists, Marie Egan had two assists, junior Ashleigh Shim had two goals. Talia McMurtrie, Kim Lopez and Nicole DiPerna also scored for FIU, which has 15 goals in their four conference wins and one in their three conference losses.

FIU still leads Conference USA's East Division by one point over Charlotte, 12 points to 11 (three points for a win, one for a tie, zero for a loss).

VOLLEYBALL

Sometimes, you get the broom (Friday's 3-0 win against FAU) and sometimes the broom gets you (Sunday's 3-0 loss at Tulane).

FOOTBALL

Louisiana Tech (2-5, 1-2) lost 28-13 to North Texas Saturday. But they're 5 1/2-point favorites over FIU for next Saturday's game at La Cage. No odds have been placed on the scoreboard or, for that matter, all the necessary electronic equipment in FIU Stadium being up to snuff for 60 minutes.

October 18, 2013

Women's soccer tonight at Camp Mitch

The football team's on a bye weekend. So, perhaps the focus should turn to the most consistently successful team of the last few years, women's soccer.

At 3-2 in Conference USA (5-8 overall, though the C-USA website says 7-6), FIU leads the conference's East Division going into the Alumnae Weekend games with East Carolina (4-8-2, 1-4) tonight and Rice (5-5-2, 3-2) Sunday. The most recent of junior Ashleigh Shim's team-high six goals came in overtime of a 3-2 win against UAB last Sunday, the second consecutive 3-2 overtime win by FIU. Junior Johanna Volz got the game-winner against Louisiana Tech the week before.

FIU has pumped in 10 goals in their five conference games, ranking third in offense for intraconference play.

These will be the Panthers' last home games before the home and season finale Oct. 31 vs. Marshall (7-4-2, 2-2-1). They'd need to run the table, the home games plus games at FAU and Middle Tennessee State, for another 10-win season. But with the injuries they've had -- leading scorers Chelsea Leiva, Scarlett Montoya, top backliner Nikki Rios -- anything near or at .500 going into the Conference USA tournament would count as a valiant effort.

October 06, 2013

A Two-Loss Weekend

Junior Johanna Volz's overtime goal gave the women's soccer team a 3-2 win Sunday afternoon against Louisiana Tech to get 4-8 and 2-2 in Conference USA. The men's soccer team crushed Marshall 4-0 Sunday to even the overall record at 5-5 and the Conference USA record at 1-1. The swim team gave FAU the what for Saturday.

OK, volleyball went zero for Texas, losing 3-0 each to Texas-San Antonio and UTEP.

In the NFL, T.Y. Hilton blazed to five catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns for Indianapolis. Jacksonville lost again, but safety Johnathan Cyprien had a team-high 12 tackles, all solo.

The opening line on Saturday's Homecoming game against Alabama-Birmingham is "pick 'em."

September 30, 2013

FIU on Sunday

The men's soccer team beat Penn 2-0 behind goals by Quentin Albrecht and freshman Luis Betancur. That gave them a weekend one up to go with Friday's one down, a 4-2 loss to Princeton.

The women's soccer team, having a tough season at 3-7 and having lost Friday night's conference opener against Charlotte, got some of what they needed Sunday with a 4-0 win over winless Old Dominion at Camp Mitch. Junior Ashleigh Shim scored twice, senior Nicole DiPerna and Junior Johanna Volz got the other two goals in FIU's first Conference USA win.

The volleyball team also split on the weekend, outlasting Charlotte 3-2 on Friday and getting dusted 3-0 by Marshall Sunday. Friday night, sophomore Lucia Castro led the team with 17 kills and Ashlee Hodgskin had 23 assists and had 17 Sunday.

In the NFL, Jacksonville safety Johnathan Cyprien had four tackles in Jacksonville's 37-3 loss to Indianapolis, one of which was of T.Y. Hilton. Hilton has five catches for 48 yards. Linebacker Antwan Barnes had a sack for the Jets in their loss to Tennessee. Look for Tourek Williams to get more playing time in San Diego now that Dwight Freeney's suffered yet another serious injury (that man does not have good fortune near Chargers colors). Offensive tackle Caylin Hauptmann was active, but didn't play for Seattle against Houston.

And the line on Saturday's football game at Southern Mississippi dropped to Southern Miss favored by 15.

September 27, 2013

Women open conference play at home. And numbers

The volleyball and women's soccer teams open Conference USA play next door to each other at home against Charlotte Friday evening.

I wrote on volleyball for Friday's Herald. If you see an athletic young woman on crutches around Camp Mitch, odds are it's a soccer player. Chelsea Leiva, Scarlet Montoya and Nikki Rios -- the top two 2012 goal scorers, one an All-Region player, and an all-conference defender -- haven't played a game for FIU this season.

Now for some more numbers. These are from the public records request I made.

Football season tickets sold for 2012, according to FIU: 10,569.

Football tickets sold overall for 2012, according to FIU: 72,878.

I think that counts each season ticket six times in the total tickets sold, which means 1,577 single game tickets were sold each game for an average paid attendance of 12,146. Much more logical. Still, that's not counting the student section, which gets in free.

Stop laughing.

Football season ticket sales for 2013 through Sept. 9, according to FIU: 10,045.

So, this year, with even a .500 season a longshot, they sold only 500 fewer season tickets than 2012, when they went into the season as Sun Belt favorites and getting a few votes in the USA Today/Coaches poll?

OK.

Individual game ticket sales for the Sept. 6 game against Central Florida, according to FIU: 1,107.

That means total ticket sales for the UCF game were 11,152. That's not counting the band, not counting the student section. Take a look at my twitter feed, https://twitter.com/DavidJNeal for oft-retweeted photos of the stadium at the national anthem that night. Yeah, late arriving tailgaters filled things in somewhat, but in the student section more than anywhere else. As I said, take a look at those photos. 11,152.

Uh-huh.

Individual game ticket sales for the Sept. 6 game against Bethune-Cookman, according to FIU: 2,618.

That means total ticket sales for that game were 12,663. Bethune brought enough of its own fans that they appeared to outnumber FIU fans that night. And the Bethune band definitely counts as a draw ("We need to get our band looking like that," opined one FIU fan, voicing the opinion of many).

Did they also count the 300-member Pride in the attendance? Because these numbers say, after an 0-2 start (two blowout losses at that) and as an underdog to a FCS team, according to FIU, it sold enough tickets to exceed the average ticket sales of a 2012 game.

Yeah.

 

 



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