Déjà vu: Southern Miss Soccer defeats FAU in C-USA Quarterfinals

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It was just earlier this year in April that Southern Miss Soccer won against FAU 2-1 in the C-USA Quarterfinals and a season later, the Golden Eagles have done it again.

Coming off of a bye from their first division title in program history, Southern Miss held onto an early lead against FAU in this season’s C-USA Quarterfinals, advancing to the semifinals for the second consecutive season.

However, a key difference for Southern Miss was that the game marked the team’s first win against the Owls in Boca Raton, Florida in program history. Before the game, the Golden Eagles were 0-3 against FAU on the road. 

“We took a step with authority and faced a good team that had home-field advantage. Our purpose is not fulfilled and we are together, getting it done,” Assistant Coach J.P. Valadares said.

Southern Miss’ scores came in the first and last two minutes of the first half. The Golden Eagles got onto the scoreboard first on a free kick sent from freshman Ilana Izquierdo to Samantha Stiglmair, who headed the ball past FAU goalkeeper Amit Cohen.

Then, before the end of the half, Diaz threaded a pass through the Owls’ defensive line to Blessing Kinglsey, who powered the ball in the net on a one on one with Cohen. 

Kingsley proved to be Southern Miss’ most active attacker on the night with four shots and three shots on goal.

While FAU did not score in the first half, the Owls got plenty of chances, setting up seven corners and getting three shots on goal. FAU outshot the Golden Eagles in the game 12-9.

The Golden Eagles kept its 2-0 lead throughout the game but FAU’s Miracle Porter capitalized on a ball that went through the defensive line, sending it past Southern Miss goalkeeper Kendell Mindnich with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

The goal provided a late energizer for the Owls but it was too late as the clock ran out.

Southern Miss struggled with injuries in the second half as both goal scorers, Diaz and Kingsley left the pitch with injuries in the first 15 minutes. Heidi Muller and Nolubabalo Sishuba also suffered injuries in the half. It was both Diaz and Sishuba’s first game back from injuries they suffered during the regular season. 

Despite setbacks from injuries, Diaz and Kingsley later returned and Southern Miss mounted the pressure on the Owls.

Izquierdo and Diaz both fired long-distance shots that nearly sailed into the goal but bounced off of the crossbar. Those shots were the best looks that the Golden Eagles got in the second half.

“I couldn’t be happier about the game tonight. We kept the ball and controlled the game from start to finish,” Kingsley said. “Every player that stepped in dug in and gave a true team performance.”

FAU made a counterattack late in the game, invading the box, but defender Macie Pennington slid to make a tackle, saving what would have been a shot on goal for the Owls.

Southern Miss has a quick turnaround before they face the University of Alabama at Birmingham Friday at 6 p.m. in the C-USA Semifinals. A Southern Miss win would result in the team’s second appearance in the C-USA Championship match in program history.