By Central Florida Panthers SC
Playing against the top ranked team in the conference, the Panthers traveled with a depleted roster of only 13 players, and still managed to secure a crucial 2-2 draw against Miami United FC Saturday night.
“We’re unbeaten in three now and it seems that three of the last four weeks we were playing the team at the top of the table,” Panthers head coach Tom Traxler said after the match. “We were only able to travel with 13 healthy players today, so to come away with a point away was huge for us. I have so much admiration for the guys that played today. We still have one more big match next week, so we need to have a great week of training and keep laser-focused on our goal of qualifying for the playoffs.”
The match marked a milestone for CFSC as four 18-year-old players got minutes in the match. Charles Ahl, Zach Hassell, Justin Dorman, and Gabriel Toro all graduated high school this past spring and played a valuable part in the draw.
The match would start out poorly for the Panthers. In the seventh minute of action, after conceding a free-kick, Matias Solari would score from just outside the box to put Miami ahead 1-0.
The Panthers would battle back, however, as just seven minutes later, the Panthers would find the equalizer off a set piece of their own. Off a short corner in the 14th minute, Ahl would weave past the defense and put a dangerous cross into the box that would be turned in by a Miami defender for an own goal.
The home side would respond just four minutes later in the 18th minute, when a cross into the box found Nicolas Micoli, who turned in the header to re-take the lead for Miami.
However, in the 21st minute, the Panthers’ Steele Norton would find the back of the net, thanks to a cross from Cole Cecconi, to bring things level at 2-2.
From that point on, it was a battle of attrition as both teams looked for the goal to break the deadlock. Both teams held firm, with Central Florida dealing with a barrage of late chances by Miami to hang on to the result and extending the Panthers’ unbeaten streak to three games.
The Panthers now have just one match remaining in the season, with the match coming against the fifth place team in the Sunshine Conference, Boca Raton FC. That match will kick off Saturday, July 10th at 6:00 pm.
Photo Credit: Central Florida Panthers SC