FORT MYERS, Fla. – The two-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference champion FGCU men’s soccer team kicks off the home portion of its 2013 season Saturday under the lights of the FGCU Soccer Complex against FIU at 7 p.m. As part of Youth Soccer Day, and all children ages 12 and under wearing their team jersey or FGCU gear are admitted free.
The Eagles (0-0-1) commenced regular-season play last Friday night with a 2-2 tie against USF. The Bulls – who were receiving votes in the national poll – took 1-0 and 2-1 leads, but FGCU fought back and earned a hard-earned tie in a contest that started just before 11 p.m. and ended well after 1 a.m. due to storms in the Tampa area. The 2012 NCAA Tournament rematch lived up to its billing as the NSCAATV.com National Game of the Week as FGCU received goals from Filipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) and Santiago Echeverri (Kissimmee, Fla./Celebration HS).
Saturday night’s matchup marks the return of the in-state series against FIU as the two teams had met every year since FGCU joined Division I in 2007 up until last season. FIU holds a slight 3-2 edge in the series, with the Eagles winning two of the past three meetings, including a 1-0 triumph on FIU’s home turf in 2009. The two programs last met on Nov. 4, 2011, with the Panthers claiming a 3-2 victory in FGCU’s regular-season finale.
The Green and Blue will be looking to extend a six-match winning streak at home and a seven-game unbeaten streak, dating back to its lone loss at the FGCU Soccer Complex to VCU last year, 2-1. The Eagles have been extremely difficult to beat on their home pitch, as over the past four years they have accumulated a 23-5-2 record, including a 7-1-1 mark in 2012 that included two victories in the A-Sun Championship to claim their second-straight league title.
FGCU sits at No. 8 this week in the NSCAA South Region poll after extending its unbeaten streak to 10 straight games (8-0-2) dating back to last year (the NCAA recognizes the Eagles’ NCAA Tournament loss in penalty kicks to USF as a tie). The Eagles are just 2-3-1 in home openers since 2007, but 2-0-1 over the past three years, including a 2-1 double-overtime win against Bucknell last year.
FIU (0-2-1) opened its season with a California roadtrip in which it fell to Loyola Marymount, 2-1, and defeated San Diego State, 5-3. The Panthers then traveled to Orlando on Thursday night and dropped a 2-1 match to UCF as the Knights scored two second-half goals. Saturday’s game versus FGCU will be the fourth of a season-opening five-game roadtrip as FIU won’t play a home match until Sept. 20.
More than half of the FIU roster consists of newcomers. There are 15 new and 13 returning players that fill the team guided by second-year head coach Ken Arena. Gonzalo Frechilla and Roberto Alterio lead the team with four points each as Alterio has a team-best two goals and Frechilla has added a goal and a team-leading two assists. FIU has used two different goalkeepers over its first three games with Lawrence Craggs (1-1-0) starting two games and Robin Spiegel (0-1-0) making one.
FGCU next travels for a mid-week tilt at Florida Atlantic University Wednesday night at 7. The Eagles return to The Nest on Saturday, Sept. 14, for a marquee showdown against Wisconsin at 8 p.m. The FGCU volleyball team hosts the current No. 1 team in the nation, Penn State, earlier in the evening, and fans who purchase a ticket to either that game or the men’s soccer game will be granted admission to both events as part of FGCU’s Big Ten Faceoff promotion.
2013-14 women’s soccer season tickets are now available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. Season tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for youth (ages 3-12). Single-game tickets can also be purchased for $6 per adult and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can receive a discounted rate of $3 per person. FGCU students and faculty/staff are admitted for free with a valid University ID.