MIAMI – What started out as a promising chance to get into the win column for the University of Pennsylvania men’s soccer team was wiped away in the second half as the host FIU Panthers stormed back on the Quakers in a 3-1 defeat.
Freshman Jerel Blades scored in the 13th minute for Penn, collecting his first collegiate goal.
After a solid clearance by the defensive group, the ball worked to central midfielder Matt Poplawski in space. Poplawski got his head up and threaded a 25-yard pass through the Panther defense to the feet of Jerel Blades. The freshman took the ball in stride and broke in alone on the keeper, sliding a low strike by the last line of defense.
FIU controlled the opening moments of the second half, needing under 20 minutes to erase Penn’s halftime lead. Darren Rios had the equalizer and the go-ahead goal for the Panthers, scoring both from similar spots.
In the 63rd minute, Penn appeared to have a chance to retake the lead when Alec Neumann sent a long pass across the field to a running Jerel Blades. Blades was just into the penalty area when a collision brought him down. No call was made and the Panthers went back down the field.
Moments later, Daniel Gonzalez slipped a pass across the box which Rios tapped in for his second goal of the match.
Rios had leveled the match in the 51st minute when he finished a transition chance. FIU turned Penn over near midfield, and broke down the right side. A pass found Rios just inside the box and he struck across the grain to the top right corner.
In the 71st minute, the Panthers added a third goal when Gonzalez finished an odd-man fast break at the goalmouth off of a Campion-Hinds pass.
Penn played two keepers in the match. Max Polkinhorne started and made three saves in 34:36 of play before he was forced to leave with injury. Freshman Etan Mabourakh came off the bench and made three saves, but took the loss despite being under pressure for each of FIU's goals.
The Quakers complete their Florida swing on Saturday, taking on Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers at 7 p.m.