What to watch for FAU men’s soccer’s Fall 2021 season

After achieving their first winning season since 2007, the Owls have major strides to make for the fall campaign.


Photo by Eston Parker III.

Richard Pereira, Sports Editor

How they finished in the Spring 2021 season: 6-4-2 (3-4-0 C-USA), did not qualify for the NCAA tournament.


Have more offensive production

As he did in the 2019 season, forward Ivan Mykhailenko continued leading the Owls’ offense for the Spring 2021 campaign, scoring six goals in the process.

FAU ranked sixth in C-USA for goals scored and shots attempted last season, having 14 goals and taking 122 shots in total. Compared to the FIU Panthers, who led the conference in scoring averaging 1.89 goals per game, FAU contrasts by averaging 1.17 goals per game.

To keep up with the best C-USA teams, it is imperative for the Owls to revitalize the offense so it doesn’t depend on Mykhailenko, playing his final season as a senior, and allow for multiple scoring options to flourish within.


Maintain the defensive wall

The Owls made program history on the defensive end of the pitch, only allowing 11 goals for an average of 0.92 goals conceded per game all season. It is the least number of goals they have ever allowed in a season.

Major roles to FAU’s success were having Daniel Skistad, Graeme Pratt, and Vasilis Spinos lead the defense and giving Neil Strauber the starting job for goalkeeper, who all contributed to forming the defensive wall that allowed the team to be more competitive in games despite their offensive limitations.

Expectations for the team on defense should be clear: continue shrinking the remaining defensive holes and put more pressure on opponents.


Upset the nationally-ranked competition

Taking down nationally-ranked conference opponents should be one of FAU’s goals this season.

The Owls lost all three games to the University of Kentucky, Marshall, and Charlotte in the spring, who were ranked 10th, 13th, and 14th respectively.

This season, Marshall defends its NCAA title as the No. 1 ranked team in the nation while Kentucky, Charlotte, and Coastal Carolina take the rankings of 14th, 18th, and 25th for the preseason.

To gain national recognition as a team that should not be underestimated in any way, FAU has to make that one of its priorities as they make their preparations heading into the season.


Darkhorse C-USA contenders?

The team’s expectations heading into this season have never been higher.

Looking back on the progress made in the spring campaign, head coach Joey Worthen noted how everyone was hungry to make a significant push for next season.

The guys are hungry, they want to continue to improve and they see like, ‘man, this was a great year, but we’re not content with this.’ I think that desire and hunger is what’s going to lead into and fuel our approach the next season,” Worthen said. “We’re really excited about the future, the future of the program, and the trajectory that we’re on will continue to keep going that way.”

With what they accomplished in the spring, this is a great opportunity for the Owls to back up their desire to go further with a beautifully substantive campaign for the fall season.

Unlike the spring season, the C-USA tournament will return for the Fall 2021 season, providing FAU the chance to prove themselves as a team many people should be wary of.

At their best, the Owls can become a defensive juggernaut while having a balanced offense that allows them to make a deep run in the C-USA tournament and, possibly, the NCAA tournament should they qualify. At their worst, they will still be very competitive as they are more than capable of qualifying for the conference tournament.

Since 2019, the floor and ceiling of the Owls have risen at a significant rate. For the team to fulfill their goals for the fall campaign, they must seize the moment and follow through.

FAU will kick off its schedule in Houston, Texas for the HBU Invitational against the University of the Incarnate Word on Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m. To view its schedule, click here.

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