Sunshine state slate on tap for Penn men's soccer
Penn looking to cut down mistakes in midst of four-game losing streak
September 26, 2013, 6:24 pm · Updated September 26, 2013, 9:26 pm·
Amiya Chopra | DP
For Penn men’s soccer, Friday’s match against Florida Gulf Coast at Rhodes Field is more than just a chance to bounce back. The match will also bring together old friends.
FGCU coach Bob Butehorn spent five years as an assistant coach for the Quakers before taking the head coaching position at FGCU in 2006.
“It’s going to be a good challenge coaching against him because I think we know each other so well,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller said.
But this visit to Philly means much more than friendship, for both Penn and FGCU. Friday’s game features two teams looking to turn their seasons around before starting conference play before the Red and Blue take on Florida International on Sunday.
The Quakers (2-4) enter this weekend’s matches on a four-game losing streak dating back to Sept. 13 at Cal Poly. Although the team has scored in five of the first six games, Penn has struggled to keep opponents from finding the back of the net, often in late-game situations.
“It’s been a couple of mental lapses. It was just one or two mistakes,” junior center back Jason deFaria said. “Maybe if we can just eliminate those, then we can be successful.”
Senior outside back Nicky Yin also realizes the importance of focus in preventing untimely miscues.
“It’s not even necessarily something we can train for on the field,” Yin said. “It’s just our preparation before the game, being 110 percent focused on your job and just knowing that every minute you’re going to bring the focus — that’s what it is.”
The Eagles (0-5-1) have yet to win game this season, but the Red and Blue aren’t underestimating their opponent, and rightfully so.
The 2013 season marks just the seventh year of FGCU’s soccer program, but team has already reached national prominence.
The Eagles made the NCAA tournament each of the last two seasons — their first two years of postseason eligibility — by winning both the Atlantic Sun regular season and postseason crowns.
“We know better than to underestimate them,” Fuller said. “They’ve had some tremendous success over the past three or four years. They’re obviously struggling a bit out of the gate, but it doesn’t take anything away from their talent level or their quality overall.”
Sophomore forward Felipe DeSousa is the Eagles’ main offensive threat. He was named A-Sun Freshman of the Year last season and has already recorded four goals. Junior goalkeeper Nathan Ingham led the A-Sun with nine shutouts last season and has 14 saves this year coming into Friday’s match.
The Eagles feature a fast-paced, energetic style of play focusing on quick ball movement and opening up the field. They also sometimes like to build possessions from the backline and use strong technical skill to possess the ball and force opponents out of position.
One of the Eagles losses this season came at the hands of Florida International (3-4). But the FIU soccer team has also struggled in recent weeks, having lost two of its last three games heading into the weekend.
The Panthers are led in goals by junior midfielder Roberto Alterio, and junior forward Quentin Albrecht figures to be a force after tallying 10 goals last season.
So with FGCU and FIU on the horizon, it is a chance for the Quakers to shake off their recent slump, and it all starts defensively.
“We’re going to have to be very alert and in-tune defensively,” Fuller said. “Hopefully we’re sharp enough on the ball to make them defend for longer stretches.”