The 2022 NPSL season opened up on a warm Sunday evening in Central Florida as the Panthers welcomed Sunshine Conference newcomers Magia FC. With many players just arriving back home this week from college, it was a busy week to try and integrate with those invited to preseason camp after open trials.
During the first half the Panthers had difficulty breaking through until midfielder Shaoschi Etienne, a returnee from the club’s inaugural season, was able to get a rebound and put it in the back of the net to put the Panthers on top. Central Florida had several other half chances but couldn’t convert.
After being up 1-0 at halftime, the visitors were able to capitalize on a penalty kick to even the scoreline. The match continued to provide a couple half chances.
Ultimately Ryan Sandidge, who wore the captain’s armband on the day, was able to break the deadlock. That unassisted goal seemed to help energize the group leading to another two unanswered goals. The first by Kevin Kelly, assisted by Etienne, and the final goal from Maximiliano Viquez, assisted by Ignacio Silva, brought the final score to 4-1.
“Good result for the first game,” Panthers coach Tom Traxler said. “A lot of players arrived this past week so we didn’t have much time together for preparation. I’m encouraged by what I saw and with more time together we’ll iron out some of the problems we had. We need to work really hard as we know our conference is always strong, and we have big challenges ahead.”
The Panthers look to continue building up chemistry in training over the next two weeks while also welcoming more players returning home. The next match will occur on Saturday, May 21 as they travel to Miami to face Miami Beach CF.
Stay tuned to the club’s social media channels for what’s ahead for the Panthers.
Photo Credit: Scott A. Miller Photography