BOCA RATON, Fla. – Riding a four-game unbeaten streak, the No. 16 RPI-ranked FGCU men’s soccer team (4-2-2) travels across the state for a non-conference matchup with FAU (0-9-1) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
FGCU will be looking to extend its unbeaten streak to five – which would be the program’s longest since a seven-game run during the 2013 season – while FAU is in search of its first win of the year.
FAU ranks near the bottom nationally in almost every statistical category, and the Owls will have their work cut out against one of the best defenses in the country in FGCU. Anchored by goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS), the Eagles’ backline has not allowed a goal during the regular run of play since Sept. 19 at USF. Over the past four games, the Green and Blue has pitched two shutouts, allowed a penalty-kick goal at Brown and a set-piece strike at UNF.
FAU has scored just seven goals in 10 games this year, with two each coming from Ramon Whittaker and Elijah McDonald. In net, Josh Nolan has received the majority of the workload with eight appearances and seven starts. He has a 2.38 goals-against average, save percentage of .548 and has made 23 saves.
The Owls and FGCU have two common opponents this year and three when including UCF. FAU fell to UCF, 5-0, while the Eagles were leading, 2-0, mid-way through the second half before a second weather delay led to the game being officially declared a “no contest.” FAU has tied Jacksonville, 1-1, while FGCU defeated the Dolphins, 4-0, and FAU also fell to Stetson, 2-1, while FGCU shut out the Hatters, 2-0.
ALL-TIME vs. FAU
FAU holds a 4-3 lead in the all-time series, with FGCU claiming a 1-0 win at home last year and victories in 2007 and 2008 – the program’s first two years of existence. FAU won all four of its meetings consecutively.
CLOSING IN ON HISTORY
Ingham is again positioning himself this year to be not only the best goalkeeper in the Atlantic Sun Conference but also one of the best in the nation. Last week’s A-Sun Defensive Player of the Week enters the contest ranked in the top-10 nationally in both goals-against average (8th, 0.50) and save percentage (10th, .857).
At his current pace, Ingham would shatter the A-Sun single-season record for goals-against average as the mark of 0.61 is held by Centenary’s Damin Hill in 1987. Last year, Ingham posted a 0.71 goals-against average to rank as the fourth-best single season in league history.
Ingham has 22 career shutouts and is within three of tying and four of breaking the all-time A-Sun mark. Additionally, Ingham – who was named the PDL Championship MVP this summer – is also closing in on the A-Sun record for lowest career goals-against average. A-Sun men’s soccer history dates back to 1979.
A-Sun Career Shutouts
1) Ryan Coulter: 25 (ETSU, 2011-13)
2) Jeff Cassar: 23 (FIU, 1992-95)
3) Nathan Ingham: 22 (FGCU, 2011-Present)
A-Sun Career Goals-Against Average (minimum 2,000 minutes)
1) Ryan Coulter: 0.95 (ETSU, 2011-13)
2) Nathan Ingham: 0.98 (FGCU, 2011-Present)
3) Kyle Roelke: 1.00 (Belmont, 2004-05)
RPI NO. 16
With an overall RPI of 16, the Eagles have the seventh-best non-conference RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) in the nation – a ranking which should remain strong throughout the remainder of the year as head coach Bob Butehorn has put together one of the most demanding schedules in program history.
FGCU – which has had two games not played due to inclement weather – has played the second-fewest games in the country, but the non-league docket has kept them among the nation’s best teams. The Eagles have played at RPI No. 1 Wake Forest (L, 1-0), No. 7 USF (L, 2-1) and No. 49 Brown (W, 2-1) and hosted No. 6 Georgetown (T, 0-0) and No. 66 Princeton (W, 3-2).
All five of FGCU’s non-conference opponents so far this year are ranked in the top 70 of the RPI, and the Eagles still have non-league tilts left at No. 31 UNC Wilmington (Oct. 31) and at home against No. 61 FIU. The lone non-conference foe for the Green and Blue not in the RPI top 70 is FAU (No. 189).
The RPI is one of the most important factors the NCAA Men’s Soccer Selection Committee utilizes when considering teams for postseason at-large berths and seeding in the NCAA Tournament. As a comparison, the FGCU women’s soccer team had an RPI of 26 last year when it was selected to host a First Round NCAA Tournament match for the first time in program history.
LAST TIME OUT: FGCU 1 UNF 1
Despite finishing with a 20-7 shot advantage and playing the final 18 minutes of regulation and both 10-minute overtime sessions with a man advantage, FGCU was unable to secure the win but still earned a valuable road point in a matchup of the preseason top-two favorites in the A-Sun.
The lone FGCU goal came off the foot of sophomore forward Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet), who converted his second penalty kick of the year in the 28th minute just two minutes after UNF initially pulled ahead with a set-piece goal by Simen Solstad. The next-best chance of the evening for either team came in the 78th minute when second-half substitute Preston Kilwien (Pleasant Hill, Calif./College Park HS/Campolindo HS) hit the post for the Eagles.
With the draw, FGCU (2-0-1 A-Sun) moved into sole possession of first place in the A-Sun with seven points. The Eagles are one point clear of Lipscomb (2-1-0) and three ahead of UNF (1-0-1).
ONE FOR THE OTHER THUMB?
By virtue of a 4-1-1 A-Sun record last year, FGCU claimed an unprecedented fifth-straight A-Sun regular-season championship and will be looking to extend that run to six in 2015. Despite only joining the league and becoming a Division-I member in 2007, FGCU is the first program in the history of the A-Sun to claim at least a share of five-straight regular-season titles.
FGCU owns a dominant overall record to 34-4-4 in all A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All four of those losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 126 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 106 of them.
THE BEST IN THE NATION
With a win over Jacksonville to open A-Sun play late last month, FGCU extended the nation’s longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak to 27, dating back to 2008 as the Eagles have gone an incredible 24-0-3 in that time. FGCU’s last home regular-season A-Sun loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008 – more than 2,500 days ago.
The Eagles step back into A-Sun action when they host Lipscomb on Senior Night on Saturday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. The Bisons are 4-7-1 overall. FGCU and Lipscomb shared the A-Sun regular-season title last year before the Eagles won the A-Sun Tournament on the Bisons home field.
Single-game tickets for all FGCU men’s soccer home games are available starting at just $7 for adults, $5 for youth (3-12) and $20 for a family pack. More information, including additional special discounts and group rates, can be accessed by logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/tickets or by clicking here. To purchase tickets, or for additional inquiries, call the FGCU Ticket Office at 239-590-7145 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
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 45 A-Sun All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just four years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three A-Sun Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and has won an unprecedented five-straight A-Sun regular-season championships. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets. Now in his 13th season as a head coach, Butehorn has a 112-89-24 (.551) overall record, 78-57-20 (.569) mark in his 9th season at FGCU and 46-17-6 (.713) record in A-Sun contests.
SUPPORT THE CAUSE
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.