FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU men’s soccer team (5-6-5, 3-1-1 Atlantic Sun Conference) will conclude its regular season Saturday at 7:30 p.m. when the Eagles honor their three seniors and then take on USC Upstate (4-8-1, 2-3-0 A-Sun) in a match laced with postseason ramifications.
Entering the final weekend of A-Sun action, three teams could potentially win the A-Sun regular-season championship and subsequent hosting responsibilities for the conference tournament Nov. 12-16. FGCU, Lipscomb and Stetson are the three teams vying for that honor.
Below are the current A-Sun standings with points, records and final A-Sun matchups:
1) Stetson: 12 Points | 4-2-0 | No Games Remaining
2) Lipscomb: 10 Points | 3-1-1 | @ Jacksonville (Saturday, 7 PM)
FGCU: 10 Points | 3-1-1 | vs. USC Upstate (Saturday, 7:30 PM)
4) North Florida: 7 Points | 2-2-1 | vs. Northern Kentucky (Saturday, 7 PM)
5) USC Upstate: 6 Points | 2-3-0 | @ FGCU
6) Northern Kentucky: 4 Points | 1-3-1 | @ North Florida
7) Jacksonville: 3 Points | 1-4-0 | vs. Lipscomb
* Win = 3 Points, Tie = 1 Point, Loss = No Points
Here are the three scenarios which could take place:
1) FGCU defeats USC Upstate AND Lipscomb loses or ties versus Jacksonville.
FGCU wins the regular-season championship and hosts the A-Sun Tournament.
2) FGCU defeats USC Upstate AND Lipscomb defeats Jacksonville.
FGCU and Lipscomb share the regular-season championship, but Lipscomb hosts the A-Sun Tournament by virtue of a 2-1 victory over FGCU last Saturday.
3) FGCU loses or ties versus USC Upstate AND Lipscomb loses or ties versus Jacksonville.
Stetson wins the regular-season championship and hosts the A-Sun Tournament.
Regardless of any other outcomes, if FGCU defeats USC Upstate, it will earn a record fifth-straight A-Sun regular-season championship, an unprecedented feat in A-Sun men’s soccer.
FGCU has the longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak in the nation. FGCU has not lost a home regular-season A-Sun game since 2008, a stretch of 25 in a row in which the Eagles are unbeaten (22-0-3). Included in that run is a 19-game winning streak, which was snapped in the second-to-last match last year when the Green and Blue tied Mercer, 0-0. FGCU’s last home regular-season A-Sun loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008 – an incredible stretch of 2,209 days.
FGCU will look to continue its dominance over USC Upstate as the Eagles have never lost to the Spartans, going 6-0-1 in seven all-time meetings. Furthermore, FGCU has shut out USC Upstate each of the last five times the two teams have met, and six of the seven meetings overall. The only meeting in which USC Upstate scored against FGCU was a 2-2 tie during the 2008 season. Outside of that match, FGCU has out-scored USC Upstate, 12-0.
HELPING FIND A CURE
Pink FGCU T-shirts will be available for purchase for $10, with all proceeds going to support the American Cancer Society. The men’s soccer team is only $500 shy of its goal of reaching $2,500 for cancer research, and if that goal is reached, all team members will shave their heads for the A-Sun Championship. In addition to the T-shirts, a pink donation box will be at the marketing table for fans to make a financial contribution to the cause.
WHAT ELSE TO KNOW
The game – presented by Pita Pit – will be video streamed free of charge by visiting ASun.TV or clicking on the link associated with this release. Live stats will also be available by following the attached link. FGCU students, faculty and staff are admitted free of charge with their Eagle ID, while adult tickets start at $6, a family pack (good for two adults and 3-5 children) is $18 and groups of 10 or more are $3. For additional ticket information, visit FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets.
Fans are encouraged to download the brand-new Wings Up mobile app in conjunction with SuperFanU prior to arriving at Saturday’s match. The fully-customized loyalty-rewards platform allows fans to check in at each of FGCU’s sporting events to earn points throughout the school year toward exclusive prizes that won’t be offered anywhere else.
FGCU will honor seniors Santiago Echeverri (Medellin, Colombia./Celebration HS), Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./North Broward Preparatory School) and Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca/Delray) prior to Saturday’s kickoff. Represented in the trio is 50 wins over their respective careers, four A-Sun regular-season championships, two A-Sun Tournament championships and two NCAA Tournament appearances. Over their careers, the trio has never had a losing season.
Echeverri ranks in the top-10 in FGCU’s career records list in goals (7, T-9th), game-winning goals (3, T-6th), assists (6, T-7th) and shots (81, 5th). After seeing limited time as a freshman, Echeverri broke out in his sophomore campaign in 2012, playing in all 19 games, recording a team-high four assists and scoring three times. The biggest of those three goals came in overtime of the A-Sun Tournament final as he scored the game-winning goal to crown FGCU back-to-back champions as he was named Tournament MVP.
As a junior last year he finished with nine points and tied for second on the team with four goals scored. Once again he showed up in the clutch as one of those four goals was the game-winning strike in a 2-0 victory over Jacksonville to clinch at the time a share of the A-Sun regular-season crown. This year, Echeverri has played in all 16 games, making nine starts – including all five A-Sun contests – and has one assist.
Silva ranks in the top-10 in FGCU’s career records list in points (24, 9th), goals (10, 5th) and game-winning goals (5, T-3rd). Silva opened his career in the Green and Blue emphatically as he was named the A-Sun Freshman of the Year after leading the team with 15 points on six goals – including an A-Sun-best four game-winners – and three assists.
Following an injury-depleted sophomore season, Silva finished second on the team in goals with four as a junior in 2013. Three of those came in A-Sun action as he was tied for second among all A-Sun players in that category. This year, he has appeared in 10 games as a substitute, providing head coach Bob Butehorn a crucial offensive weapon off the bench.
Penagos ranks in the top-10 in FGCU’s career records list in points (27, 7th), goals (13, 3rd) and game-winning goals (5, T-3rd), and is also the program’s career leader in penalty-kick goals, having gone a perfect 4-4 over his four-year tenure. Penagos appeared in 17 games as freshman and scored one goal in 2010 before using a redshirt season in 2011 and returning to the FGCU lineup in 2012. That year, he was named to the A-Sun All-Conference Second Team after scoring three goals.
Last year as a redshirt junior, Penagos broke out, scoring a team-high-tying six goals as every shot he put on frame resulted in a goal. The six goals were tied for the third-most in the A-Sun, and three of those were game-winning strikes – tied for the third-most in FGCU single-season history. As a result of his play, Penagos was named to the A-Sun All-Conference First Team. This year, Penagos – who played in just three games prior to October – is tied for the team lead in goals again with four. Over his last eight games, Penagos has scored a goal in every other contest, including three in conference play which ranks his fifth in the league in that category.
FGCU has an incredible overall record of 31-4-3 in all A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All four of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 114 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 96 of them.
SCOUTING USC UPSTATE
USC Upstate has already clinched a spot in the six-team A-Sun Championship as the Spartans will be looking to move up into a seed as high as No. 4 heading into the tournament. While Upstate has just four wins on the year, the Spartans come into the contest riding a two-game winning streak having defeated Jacksonville, 2-0, and Northern Kentucky, 2-1, on the last two Saturdays. USC Upstate – which has only played 13 games on the year – will be playing just its sixth game since Oct. 1 when it takes to the pitch against FGCU.
Marvin Schmiege leads the A-Sun in total goals (9), goals per game (0.69) and points per game (1.54), and is tied for the league lead in game-winning goals (3). The 0.69 goals-per-game average for the Upstate junior midfielder ranks ninth in the country, while the 1.54 points-per-game average is 12th nationally. Joe Brinckwirth and Leon Schwarzer both lead USC Upstate with five assists each as those totals rank tied for fourth among all A-Sun players.
TOP AND BOTTOM
The matchup between FGCU and USC Upstate will represent a stark contrast in defenses. FGCU leads the A-Sun in nearly every key defensive statistical category, while USC Upstate ranks near the bottom:
Goals Allowed: FGCU: 14, 1st; USC Upstate: 27, T-6th
Goals Against Average: FGCU: 0.81, 1st; USC Upstate: 1.99, 7th
Shutouts: FGCU: 6, 1st; USC Upstate: 3, T-4th
Nationally, FGCU’s 0.81 goals-against average ranks 37th. Individually, Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) has six shutouts to his name this year. His .803 save percentage easily leads the conference (no one else is even at .730), and he is the only goalie with at least 10 games played in the A-Sun with a goals-against average below 1.0 (next closest is 1.28 – a 0.47 difference).
FGCU is in the midst of a near-record-setting defensive season. The Green and Blue has not allowed more than two goals in a game this season, and only one other time in the program’s eight-year history has that occurred (2010). That 2010 campaign concluded with a record 0.58 goals-against average, a number FGCU could hit this season with a few more shutouts as its current 0.81 average is the second-best in program history.
FGCU’s five ties this season are already the most in program history, with the previous record being only three in 2012 … six shutouts is three shy of tying the single-season record of nine in 2010 and 2012.
FGCU has posted a record-setting attendance year in 2014 as 6,672 fans have already filled the FGCU Soccer Complex through eight games. The Eagles, who easily lead the A-Sun in attendance, eclipsed the previous all-time single-season record of 4,955 fans from 2011 on Oct. 4 against Stetson. FGCU still has at least one home match remaining in the regular season, and would host the conference tournament if it earns the top seed.
The A-Sun’s seven members have a combined home attendance of 20,433 over 50 games this year, and FGCU is responsible for 33 percent of that total. The Eagles’ home attendance this year is more than double their next-closest competitor (Northern Kentucky – 3,268 in 11 games).
Due in large part to that record support was a grueling non-conference schedule for FGCU which Butehorn has called the most difficult in program history. Despite a sub-.500 record, FGCU has an RPI of 116 – the second-highest among all A-Sun teams (Lipscomb, 87) – as a result of the demanding non-league slate, which includes eight top-100 RPI programs, six top-65 and three top-30 RPI teams: No. 11 Washington, No. 27 Akron, No. 29 Louisville, No. 45 USF, No. 56 San Francisco, No. 64 Saint Mary’s, No. 76 Brown and No. 98 FIU.
FGCU has always played a challenging non-conference schedule, and as it has shown the Eagles have used that to prepare for the league slate. Of the 11 non-conference opponents FGCU faced this year, five were either nationally ranked or receiving votes in the national poll, while four others had defeated nationally-ranked teams.
Below is FGCU’s record each season since 2010 before playing its first conference game and then its record for the remainder of the season following its first league contest:
2010: 4-2-2 > 10-1-1
2011: 3-2-2 > 9-4-0
2012: 3-4-1 > 8-2-1
2013: 2-5-1 > 6-2-1
2014: 1-4-3 > 4-2-2
Total: 13-17-9 > 37-11-5
Some of those opponents following FGCU’s first A-Sun match were not conference foes, but the Eagles have clearly used the non-league slate to help pave the way to their four straight A-Sun regular-season championships.
FGCU scored 27 goals last season, and all 27 were from players who returned this year. The 100-percent return rate is the best in the country, tied with SIU Edwardsville which only scored 14 goals in 2013.
Highest Pct. of Goals Returning
1. FGCU – 100.0 (27/27)
SIU Edwardsville – 100.0 (14/14)
3. Evansville – 97.1 (33/34)
4. Syracuse – 96.7 (29/30)
5. North Carolina – 89.5 (17/19)
6. Missouri State – 88.2 (15/17)
7. Virginia – 86.6 (39/45)
Buffalo – 86.6 (13/15)
9. NJIT – 84.0 (21/25)
Duke – 84.0 (21/25)
11. FIU – 81.5 (22/27)
12. UAB – 81.4 (35/43)
13. Cincinnati – 81.3 (13/16)
14. Connecticut – 80.6 (29/36)
15. South Carolina – 80.0 (20/25)
For men’s soccer ticket information, visit the Alico Arena Ticket Office, call 239-590-7145 or log on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. For up-to-the minute information and a behind-the-scenes look at the program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_MSoccer and Instagram @FGCU_MSoccer.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached 30 A-Sun All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just three years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to the NCAA Tournament twice – in 2011 and 2012 – and has won an unprecedented four-straight A-Sun regular-season championships. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets, and in 2013 he won his 100th career game.
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.