TAMPA – In a furious final 25 minutes in which all three of the game’s goals were scored, the FGCU men’s soccer team (1-2-1) fell at rival USF Saturday night (5-2-0) by a 2-1 margin at Corbett Stadium.
For the Eagles – who continue to work several players back from injuries – they received a penalty kick strike from second-half substitute Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) in the 72nd minute to tie the game at 1-1 before USF was given a PK of its own in the 83rd minute which proved to be the difference in the contest.
Following a scoreless first half, a weather delay of more than an hour at halftime kept both teams off their typical rhythm well into the second half. The Bulls struck first in the 66th minute when Melvin Becket recorded his first goal of the year.
FGCU then settled in, and the PK was awarded after Justin Gavin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Eastern Florida State College/Treasure Coast HS) was taken down in the box. Head coach Bob Butehorn was looking for a spark, and after moving Gavin – who was making his season debut as he recovered from an injury – out wide up top and pushing Kamar Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS) from forward to right back, the Eagles strung a series of passes together to set up Gavin in the box.
Ruiz – who like Gavin was making his season debut after recovering from an injury – stepped up and converted the PK for second career goal. The sophomore was tabbed to the Atlantic Sun Conference All-Freshman Team last year and was one of three FGCU players named to the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference Team this season, but hadn’t appeared in a game for the Green and Blue until Saturday.
His strike tied the game at 1-1, but USF was given the aforementioned PK after the referee ruled that Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) took down a USF player in the box.
“We got off to a tentative, flat start. Once we went down a goal on a mistake we started to respond and got our game back by stringing passes together,” commented Butehorn. “I thought we were going to get another goal, but overall it wasn’t one of our better games. USF is always tough at home, and when we don’t play to the level that we’re certainly capable of, we’re not going to win there. We just need to get back to work and prepare to head up to Brown next week.”
Redshirt senior starting goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) sat out as he continued to recover from an ankle sprain suffered last Thursday in a 3-2 Eagles’ win over Princeton. Ingham – who led the A-Sun in goals-against average last season – is again pacing the league this year (0.72), in addition to leading the conference in save percentage (.833).
Freshman Sawyer Jackman (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East HS) was scheduled to start the Green and Blue’s match against Penn on Saturday before it was canceled, but got the start in net against the Bulls on Saturday. He played well for the Eagles in a tough environment, making five saves.
Jackman made two saves in the opening 10 minutes, and USF got off to a fast start as the Bulls attempted six of the first seven shots of the evening. However, the Eagles settled down, and on a Marriott header had their first shot on goal in the 22nd minute.
Following an FGCU corner by Rielee Mohsin (Stuart, Fla./Nichols College/Martin County HS), Luis Vega (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Montverde Academy) put another effort on frame in the 28th minute, but USF keeper Spasoje Stefanovic was equal to the task again. From there, the two sides traded attempts before going into the halftime break deadlocked at 0-0.
In addition to Gavin and Ruiz making their 2015 debuts, FGCU also got Skylar Wilks (Tampa, Fla./Newsome HS) back from a hamstring injury, and the senior was extremely effective, particularly in the second half. He attempted three shots, one of which hit the post.
USF – coming off a 2-0 win over fellow A-Sun member UNF on Monday – has only lost to then-No. 5 Notre Dame and then-No. 17 Indiana. The Bulls have either been ranked or receiving votes in the national polls each week throughout the season, but currently are not in any ranking.
FGCU will remain on the road next week when it travels to Rhode Island on Friday, Sept. 25, to face Brown, which is off to a 3-1-0 start to the season and ranked No. 21 in the nation by Soccer America. If the Bears – who lost 3-2 at Georgia State Friday night and face Clemson on Sunday – remain ranked, it will mark the third opponent already this year for FGCU which is nationally ranked.
Single-game tickets 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 109-89-23 overall record, 75-57-19 mark in his 9th season at FGCU and 44-17-5 record (.705 winning percentage) in A-Sun contests.
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