FIU’s 2017-2018 athletic year ended this past weekend with the track and field national championships in Eugene, Oregon.
While that meet failed to produce any Panthers medalists, this was still an eventful year for FIU sports. Among the highlights was the arrival of accomplished football coach Butch Davis, who took the Panthers to a bowl game in his first year on campus.
Also making noise for the Panthers were their men’s soccer team and some standouts on the baseball diamond, the tennis and basketball courts, the sand in beach volleyball and the mat in the high jump.
Here we go, counting down our selections for FIU’s top athletes of the year:
▪ 10: The beach volleyball duo of Federica Frasca and Margherita Bianchin, who grew up as rivals in their native Italy, earned All-America honors. They finished 27-8, ranked 10th in the nation.
▪ 9: Point guard Brian Beard, a 5-10 junior from California, finished fifth in the nation in steals (3.9 per game) and made Conference USA’s All-Defensive team. He was the only player in the league who finished in the top 10 in scoring, assists and steals.
▪ 8: Second baseman Eddie Silva, a 6-1 senior from Pembroke Pines, hit .321 and led FIU with 16 homers and 48 RBI. His 16 homers tied for the Conference USA title.
▪ 7: Thomas Owens, a 6-1 senior from Boynton Beach, made first-team All-C-USA, catching 59 passes for 887 yards, which were both career highs.
▪ 6: Shannon Saile, a 5-7 sophomore softball star from Land O’Lakes, set FIU’s single-season strikeout record and made first-team All-Conference USA. She led the nation with four 15-plus strikeout games and finished 17-11 with a 1.93 ERA, three shutouts and one save.
▪ 5: Paul Marie, a 5-8 senior defender from France, became the first FIU player selected in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft, going 12th overall to the San Jose Earthquakes. He had both assists as FIU defeated Omaha 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and was named third-team All-American.
▪ 4: Clarissa “Cat” Cutliff, a 5-11 junior from Orlando, is a four-time Conference USA champ in the high jump. She was ranked third in the nation but failed to clear any height at nationals this past weekend due to monsoon-type conditions in Oregon. However, during the indoor season, she finished third in the nation, earning All-America honors.
▪ 3: Andrea Lazaro, a 5-7 senior from Spain, earned All-American status after reaching the NCAA quarterfinals. She beat Miami Hurricanes star Estela Perez-Somarriba. Lazaro finished 30-5 and was ranked 13th in the nation. She also won the ITA Fall Championship.
▪ 2: Alex McGough, a 6-3 senior quarterback from Tampa, led FIU’s football team to its first bowl game in seven years. He set several school records — including touchdown passes and passing yards — and was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the seventh round.
▪ 1: Santiago Patino, a 6-0 junior from Orlando who scored 15 goals, was the first FIU men’s soccer player in 22 years to earn first-team All-America honors. He ranked third in the nation in goals per game, leading FIU to the second round of the NCAA playoffs and the first undefeated regular season in school history.