FIU’s men’s soccer team won its first three matches this season, giving the Panthers their best start since 2000 and highlighting the German-born duo of goalie Robin Spiegel and forward Quentin Albrecht.
Spiegel, a freshman, started all three games and allowed a total of only one goal.
“He is three years older than the typical freshman,” first-year FIU coach Kenny Arena said of Spiegel, 21. “He’s mature.”
Spiegel beat out a pair of experienced goalies in junior Eric Reyes, who started 11 games last year, and sophomore Rodney Greiling, who opened six times.
Overall last year, FIU allowed 29 goals in a 5-8-4 season.
In Sunday’s 1-0 win over Jacksonville, Spiegel got kicked in the head and had to be replaced by Reyes.
“Robin got three staples in his head,” Arena said. “But he’s fine now.”
Albrecht is also doing well, especially after scoring FIU’s first four goals this season. His markers came in a 2-0 win over Bryant and a 2-1 victory over North Florida.
“One thing that Robin and Quentin have in common is great composure,” Arena said. “They are not fazed by any situation.”
Arena said Albrecht arrived at camp in great condition and played every minute of FIU’s first three wins.
Albrecht is one of three forwards the Panthers use in a 4-3-3 lineup. The other forwards, all from South Florida, are a rotation of freshman Andrew Mattek (West Boca Raton), sophomore Colby Burdette (Boca Raton) and junior Nicolas Rodriguez (Miami Gulliver).
Mattek and Spiegel are part of a terrific freshman class that includes five players who have started at least one game so far.
The others are midfielder Daniel Gonzalez of Miami Killian (three starts, three assists), defender Lyle Lindquist of Miami Palmetto (three starts, one assist) and midfielder Patrick Ramdial of Jamaica (one start, one goal).
Here’s a look at the other local Division I / Division II men’s soccer programs:
• Barry: The Bucs, who return eight starters, opened the season ranked 12th in the nation in Division II and have been predicted to finish second in the Sunshine State Conference.
Last year, Barry (12-3-6) came in fourth in the league and advanced to the NCAA South Region final. It was Barry’s third straight playoff appearance.
The Bucs are led by Brazilian midfielder Guilherme Oliveira, a senior from Brazil and a returning All-American. Other standouts are junior midfielder Joong Kim of South Korea and senior defender Joe Conkleton of England.
The team will have to replace Mark Anderson, the Division II National Player of the Year. He scored 21 goals last season and is now starring professionally with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
Also gone from the field is two-time All-American goalie Johnny Rodrigues, who injured his foot in the preseason and is out for the year. Last year, he won 12 games, six by shutouts, and posted a 0.90 goals-against average. He has been replaced by senior Fred Perez.
• Nova: The Sharks, who finished 4-11-1 last season, are picked to finish eighth in the nine-team Sunshine State Conference. Nova is bringing in 18 newcomers this season to try for a turnaround.