By Central Florida Panthers SC
Looking to continue their hot start to the season, the Central Florida Panthers took a trip down south for their first road match of the season, taking on Naples United FC. After falling down 2-0 through the first 45 minutes, the Panthers had a battle back performance in the second half that fell just short of equalizing, as they fell 2-1 in Naples.
“Full credit goes to Naples, it was a hard-fought game,” Panthers head coach Tom Traxler said. “They came out on top tonight. I was very pleased with our players. Our players in the second half I felt that they took on the tactical changes we made very well. They really responded, which is what we want, if you go 2-0 down away from home. We urged them to change the mindset around the first half. I felt that the first half was very negative from not only a lack of energy from us, but just when it got frustrating, their communication with each other. The whole first half was kind of something negative for us. That’s our effort, the way we communicate. Those are things that we can control, that we need to be better with, and I thought they took that on board as well, and I thought they were much better in the second half.”
With many players playing their first matches together, mixed with an early injury to Deian Petrov just 15 minutes in, the halftime break was a much-needed one for the Panther to regroup, refresh, and come out the aggressors in the second half.
After just 10 minutes from the start of the last 45 minutes, midfielder Nazar Tsaruk was fouled in the penalty area as he made a run towards goal, earning a whistle and a penalty from the referee. The Rollins College sophomore calmly buried it to half the deficit at 2-1.
As the second half progressed, the Panthers continued to build in their play, creating a multitude of chances, but it unfortunately was not their night, as Naples managed to hang on to the scoreline.
“When you win 6-0 and everybody’s happy and everybody’s high fiving, it’s easy to keep positive when you’re 6-0,” Traxler said. “Now, this is what tells you a lot more about yourself. How do we respond to something negative. Well, if the second half is anything to go by, then we’ve shown ourselves that we have character. We can dig in and we can battle and we can fight, and that’s a good thing moving forward.”
Naples United FC head coach Matt Poland was pleased with the performance of his squad.
“Very proud of the guys’ fight and the way they battled the last 30 minutes of the game,” Poland said. “Should give our guys a lot of confidence going forward.”
The focus now quickly shifts to the Panthers next match on Wednesday as they host the Miami Dutch Lions at 6:30 pm at Showalter Stadium.
Photo Credit: Central Florida Panthers SC