No. 21 Conquistadors surge, defeat Lions 2-1

FNU men's soccer defeat Florida Memorial 2-1 in season opener. (August 20, 2023)
FNU men’s soccer defeated Florida Memorial 2-1 in season opener. (August 20, 2023)

(Box Score

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. ( Aug. 20, 2023) – The 2023 season kicked off with a bang, as the Florida National University Conquistador men’s soccer team (1-0-0) pulled together a 2-1 win over the Florida Memorial Lions (0-1-0) at the newly-renovated soccer field at Lester B. Brown Park.

FMU made significant changes during the off-season, including hiring two-time NAIA Champion Alex Nichols as their new head coach. Nichols brought a wealth of experience to his new role in Miami Gardens, Fla., including five Heart of America Athletic Conference Coach of the Year awards. 

Despite a new-look Florida Memorial squad’s eagerness to make an impression in 2023, Florida National played a steady and spectacular contest from start to finish. A little over four minutes into the match, FNU’s Blas Barrancos got the Conquistadors on the board first, thanks to a crafty assist from Bautista Dominguez.  

FNU’s offensive brilliance was soon overshadowed by a flash of lightning, sending this South Florida showdown into a lengthy delay with just nine minutes surpassed in the first half. When play resumed, FMU’s Felix Paberger scored a much-needed goal to level the game at 1-1 at the 24th-minute mark. 

This tie would follow both teams into halftime, with the Lions amassing four yellow cards and 12 fouls. FNU racked up three shots and two corner kicks. The physicality of the first half carried into the final 45 minutes with each team battling for an advantage. The turning point came with 22 minutes left in the game, as a charging Nicolas Martinez was pushed from behind in the penalty area, granting the Conquistadors the opportunity to take the lead. 

Dominguez stepped up to the marker and sank a gutsy goal in the top-left corner, as FMU goalkeeper Batony Ilyes dove in the opposite direction. Now up 2-1, FNU continued to push the pace and be aggressive, not settling for one score lead. The Conquistadors led the way with five shots in the second half, as three offside calls on Florida Memorial in the late goings of the second half stomped out any hope of a game-saving goal.

FNU recorded three corner kicks, eight shots on goal, and goalkeeper Juan Manuel Fermoselle was awarded one save. 

Up Next: Florida National makes the short trip to Warner University August 23 for a 5 p.m. battle on the grass in Lake Wales, Fla. 

Continental Athletic Conference (CAC) logo.