The FIU Panthers, ranked 14th in the nation in men’s soccer, are having an impressive season with a 7-0-3 record.
FIU has two major pre-playoffs challenges upcoming: against No. 18 Old Dominion on Oct. 25 and at No. 21 Kentucky on Oct. 29. Those rankings are according to United Soccer Coaches.
Individually, the Panthers’ star is junior Santiago Patino, who leads the nation with 12 goals in 10 games. But other players have stepped up, most notably Marvin Hezel and Alessandro Campoy in Tuesday’s 4-3 double-overtime win over Florida Gulf Coast.
Down by two goals, FIU scored the tying and winning goals despite playing one man down. Hezel scored the tying goal with 25 seconds left in regulation, and Campoy got the winner with eight seconds left in the second OT.
A ‘BUDDING’ STAR
FIU’s Sherilene Gelderblom, a 21-year-old sophomore from South Africa, arrived in Miami just two months ago and has already made an impact as a cross-country runner.
In the Mountain Dew Gator Invitational on Sept. 23, Gelderblom finished second in a Gainesville event that featured 32 teams. Her time of 17:21.2 set an FIU record for a 5K.
Then, on Oct. 7, she won the eight-team Disney Classic in Orlando with a time of 18:00.8.
It was the first collegiate win for Gelderblom, who grew up running in the hilly terrain of South Africa, about 90 minutes from Johannesburg.
Gelderblom’s transition to Miami was tough at first.
“The humidity was smothering me,” she said.
At 5-3 and just 98 pounds, Gelderblom is reminiscent of another runner from South Africa, Zola Budd, who was 5-5 and 105 pounds when she broke the world record for 5,000 meters in 1985.
Gelderblom said Budd, a two-time Olympian, is still “big in South Africa” but added that she hasn’t tracked Budd’s career or even seen highlights. And, of course, Gelderblom runs with shoes and not barefoot, which was Budd’s custom.
Jermaine Felix, FIU’s cross-country coach, said Gelderblom excels because of her determination and finishing speed, among other things.
“She’s meticulous about her lifestyle,” Felix said of her training regimen. “And she can withstand fatigue. … I think she has a good shot to make it to nationals.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ The University of Miami’s women’s soccer team, which plays at fourth-ranked Duke on Sunday, is 4-8 overall and 0-6 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Duke (13-1, 6-0) will be Miami’s third top-15 opponent in the past seven matches — a brutal stretch. UM is led by senior forward Ronnie Johnson, who is second in the ACC in shots; sophomore midfielder Kristina Fisher, fifth in the league in assists; and junior goalie Phallon Tullis-Joyce, second in saves.
▪ There’s less than one month remaining before men’s basketball coach Jim Crutchfield makes his debut at Nova Southeastern. He averaged more than 30 wins per season over his past eight years at West Liberty, which is another NCAA Division II program. Now he will try to revive NSU, which finished 6-20 last season. The key player this season is junior point guard David Dennis, who played for West Liberty and led his conference with 6.0 assists per game. He also averaged 14.1 points and knows how to run Crutchfield’s up-tempo offense.