FORT MYERS, Fla. – Rielee Mohsin headed in the game-winning goal in the early stages of the 2nd overtime Saturday night to propel the 2nd-seeded FGCU men’s soccer team (13-3-2) to the ASUN Championship Final next Saturday with a dramatic 3-2 victory over 3rd-seeded Lipscomb (10-6-2) at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
Junior Mohsin (Stuart, Fla./Nichols College/Martin County HS) scored just his second goal with the Eagles at the 100:46 mark from about 10 yards out near the far post after a long cross from the right wing by Justin Gavin.
The triumph propelled the Eagles into the ASUN title match for the fourth time in just six seasons of Division-I eligibility. FGCU – ranked as high as #20 in the national polls this week – will face either top-seeded North Florida (9-3-2) or 5th-seeded Jacksonville (7-9-0) on Nov. 12. The Ospreys and Dolphins clash in their cross-city rivalry semifinal on Sunday night, and if JU wins FGCU will host the championship final, but if UNF emerges victorious, the Ospreys will host as the higher seed. Earlier this year, UNF claimed a 1-0 double-overtime victory over JU.
ASUN Player of the Year Albert Ruiz scored twice for FGCU to extend his nation-leading goal total to 19 as the lethal junior striker tied the match in the 35th minute and then put the Eagles ahead in the 61st minute as he continued his record-shattering campaign.
“First off, my hat goes off to Lipscomb. They are an extremely classy group which had to battle through a lot of adversity tonight,” commented FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn of the Bisons, who lost ASUN First Team member Ivan Alvarado in the first half with a leg injury. “But our fans really helped us tonight. We felt the crowd, the emotions and the passion, and it was really great to celebrate with them here tonight.”
Mohsin – who had played in just nine matches and logged 276 minutes all year coming into the game – entered the match in the 77th minute up front and proved to be a threat right away. His first shot came not even three minutes after stepping on to the pitch, and that effort was saved, but his second attempt was not.
“We called it on the sidelines. I turned to my staff and told them ‘he’s going to get a goal’ and sure enough he got the game-winner, Butehorn stated. “And Rielee said it to me as well. He said ‘I’m going to get one.’”
FGCU and Lipscomb played to a 1-1 double-overtime draw exactly one week ago in Nashville – a result which gave the Eagles hosting responsibilities for the semifinal match. Saturday was equally as tight, with FGCU finishing the match with a 16-15 shot advantage, while Lipscomb was whistled for one more foul than the Eagles, 16-15. In net, freshman Jared Brown made six saves for the Eagles, while Christopher Zappia had three for the Bisons.
The win ties FGCU’s single-season program record for victories with 13 along with the 2010 squad. After starting the season 0-2-1, the Eagles are now 13-1-1 over their last 15 matches and have unofficially moved up to 38th in the RPI – a key determining factor in the Men’s Soccer Selection Committee’s decision into picking the at-large squads in the 48-team NCAA Tournament.
FGCU did not get off to the start it was looking for in pursuit of its fourth ASUN Championship crown as Lipscomb took the lead in the 28th minute off a broken set piece. ASUN First Team member Logan Paynter finished a low shot amongst a swarm of players from about 10 yards for his 11th goal of the year.
The Eagles got the equalizer in their normal quick form as the Green and Blue orchestrated a perfect counter, which started at the back. The ball found its way to Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS), who played a thru ball to Arion Sobers-Assue (Miami, Fla./DeMatha Catholic HS) up the middle of the pitch. He then delivered a one-timed pass into the box and on to the run of Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella), who sent a left-footed strike back across his body from about 15 yards off the right post and past Zappia, who had posted a shutout in the Bisons’ quarterfinal win over Stetson.
FGCU carried the momentum from that goal into the start of the 2nd half, and the Eagles finally broke through with the go-ahead goal in 61st minute, once again off the left foot of Ruiz. Zapata picked up his second assist of the evening, but this time it was the primary – and only – helper as he played a ball into space into the Lipscomb attacking third before Ruiz settled, and took a shot from about 20 yards out which froze Zappia on his line.
However, the lead was short-lived as the Bisons had an answer just 72 seconds later when redshirt junior Cameron Botes scored his first career goal. With Brown coming off his line to challenge a high, bouncing ball in the box, Botes had an empty net at the far post from only about 5 yards, and he finished a diagonal pass from Paynter.
In overtime, Justin Gavin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Eastern Florida State College/Treasure Coast HS) appeared to have the game-winner early in the first overtime off a Jiro Barriga Toyama (Chiba, Japan/Barton CC/Chibakennrituoihama HS) cross, but his header just missed to the left. However, just about 10 minutes later, Mohsin’s did not as the Eagles continued their record-setting season.
That campaign now includes a nation-best 55 goals and 156 points – far more than any other team in the country. Both have shattered the program’s single-season records (35 and 108, respectively), while Ruiz now has a nation-best 43 points and Sobers-Assue has 30 points, which also ranks in the top 10 in the country.
Since becoming postseason eligible for the 2011 season, FGCU has claimed three of the five ASUN Championship titles it has been a part of, going 7-2-0 in nine contests after Saturday. FGCU went 2-0 in 2011, 2012 and 2014 en route to tournament titles (in addition to the victory Saturday night), with the losses coming in the 2013 semifinals as the No. 1 seed at home against 5th-seeded North Florida, and last year again in the semifinals as the top seed versus 4th-seeded USC Upstate in overtime.
FGCU’s seven ASUN tournament victories in only 5+ seasons are more than any other current team in the league’s history with the exception of Stetson – which only has 10 victories and has been postseason eligible since 1985.
The Eagles have scored at least two goals in every match this year with the exception of three – and two of those came in the first three outings of the year. FGCU has not been shut out all year, something that has never happened the 10-year history of the program.
For up-to-the minute information and a behind-the-scenes look at the FGCU men’s soccer program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_MSoccer, Instagram @FGCU_MSoccer, Facebook /FGCUMSoccer and YouTube /FGCUAthletics.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached six professional players and 63 ASUN All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just five years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three ASUN Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and won an unprecedented six-straight ASUN regular-season championships from 2010-15. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets, including a program-record #11 NSCAA ranking in 2016. Now in his 14th season as a head coach, Butehorn has a 128-93-27 (.571) overall record, 94-61-23 (.593) mark in his 10th season at FGCU and 52-18-7 (.721) record in ASUN contests.
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FGCU Athletics sponsors events throughout the year to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.