FAU Men’s Soccer: Owls gear up for C-USA play after remaining undefeated in five games

The Owls enter C-USA play with a 3-0-2 record.

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Ivan Mykhailenko (pictured #16) scored one goal in five games for the Owls this season. Photo by Eston Parker III.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

FAU men’s soccer has a lot to look forward to as they prepare for Conference USA play starting on March 6.

The Owls are coming off their best start since 2013, entering conference play with a 3-0-2 record. 

“We talked a lot in the fall about wanting to have a good start, how important that was gonna be so the guys came in fit.” head coach Joey Worthen said. “They came in ready to play and the way that we responded in the game, they’re playing really well, competing. I’m really pleased.”

The defense has been a key factor in the Owls’ success so far, only conceding two goals. It is their best defensive start since 1991, where they also allowed only two goals after five games.

Worthen compliments it by saying there’s more experience with the players that have been with the team for years or have been brought in to help with the depth.

“It’s just been a big focus in practice to really limit the amount of chances that we give up and to be sharper, whether it’s following guys in the box or not turning the ball over as much,” Worthen said. “They’ve done a fantastic job with it, so we’re really pleased.”

By scoring more goals and conceding fewer goals, Worthen sees it as a recipe for winning games for the Owls.

“These non-conference games were a good test for us to be able to get those and now as we go into these conference games, they might be a little bit harder to come by,” Worthen said. “We’re gonna continue to do what we do to try to put teams under and get ourselves in good spots to score, and then we need guys to step up and continue to make plays.”

Junior goalkeeper Neil Strauber has shined as FAU’s main option, as he earned three clean sheets, made 16 saves, and won C-USA Defensive Player of the Week to show his excellence.

“Now that we’ve got a lot of depth in that position, we’ve got a solid defensive lineup and depth in those positions to help Neil but he’s come up big. He’s made big saves and we needed him to,” Worthen said. “We’ll just continue to rely on the other guys in that position, we’ll push him and rely on him to continue to make those saves to give us a chance.”

With four of the seven conference games taking place on the road, Worthen knows that the team needs to get results and have a lot of confidence in doing so.

“To still be undefeated to go on the road to Jacksonville and the Gulf Coast and get results was huge,” Worthen said. “We look at these games against the conference opponents on the road as another opportunity to go make a statement.”

The Owls will begin C-USA play on the road against the Florida International University Panthers (2-1-0) on March 6 at noon. 

Richard Pereira is the Sports Editor for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.