FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the first time in program history the FGCU men’s soccer team is nationally ranked by the only official poll the NCAA recognizes as the Eagles are off to a 1-0-2 start and check in at No. 24 in the year’s first installment of the NSCAA/Continental Tire National Poll Tuesday afternoon.
In addition to the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) ranking, FGCU is also ranked No. 24 by Soccer America, the most reputable media poll in the country. The Eagles are unbeaten through the first three games of a season for the first time in program history, with wins over rival USF (2-0) and ties against Portland (0-0) and Akron (1-1). In total, those three tradition-rich programs have made 59 NCAA Tournament appearances, including five College Cup trips (semifinals), three national championship game matches and one national title.
This is the first time FGCU has appeared in any national poll since Sept. 27, 2011, when it was ranked No. 25 by GOAL.com. The Eagles were ranked three times in 2011 by the media outlet, including a program-record No. 14 in the preseason poll. The Green and Blue first appeared in a national poll Oct. 5, 2010 when they were No. 25 by Soccer America. The Eagles went on to be ranked seven more times in 2010 before finishing the year No. 20 in the Soccer America Poll (complete list at bottom).
“This is a great honor that’s well-deserved for our guys and something that they have worked extremely hard to achieve,” said head coach Bob Butehorn, who has been FGCU’s only coach since the program’s first season in 2007. “While the recognition is certainly great for us and the Atlantic Sun Conference, we have larger goals we still want to achieve this year, so it’s important for us to remain focused on those.”
From 1971-1995, the Intercollegiate Soccer Coaches Association of America (ISAA) conducted the only officially-recognized NCAA poll, and in 1996 that responsibility was assumed by the NSCAA. In addition to the final coaches’ polls for each year, the only other final polls that are included in the official NCAA Men’s Soccer Record Book are those from Soccer America.
Last week FGCU was the first team left out of the NSCAA Top 25 with 48 votes, just two behind No. 25 Clemson. The first team after the Eagles in the “Receiving Votes” category was Akron with 38, but on the strength of a dominant shot advantage and second-half goal from Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) on Saturday evening, FGCU tied the 2010 national champions and 2009 national runner-up Zips. Earlier in the week FGCU tied Portland as the Pilots were also receiving votes in the NSCAA Poll.
The FGCU defense has allowed just one goal through the first three games of the season, pitching consecutive shutouts to open the year. The Green and Blue’s 0.29 goals against average is tied for 13th best in the country after two weekends of play, and their .670 shutout percentage is tied for the 15th best. In net, redshirt junior goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) ranks 15th nationally with a .923 save percentage.
Butehorn has assembled one of the most challenging non-conference schedules in program history, and that grueling stretch continues this weekend when FGCU heads to the West Coast for a pair of matchups in California against the University of San Francisco (Sept. 12 at 10 p.m. Eastern) and Saint Mary’s College (Sept. 14 at 3 p.m. Eastern).
San Francisco is 2-1 on the year with wins over then-No. 21 Wisconsin and Cal State Fullerton, and the lone loss coming to No. 23 Illinois-Chicago. The Dons have made 31 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, claiming four national championships in the process – the fourth most in NCAA history. Saint Mary’s, which plays in the West Coast Conference – the same league which Portland and San Francisco play in – is 1-2 on the season, but claimed a huge win at then-No. 4 Washington Sunday afternoon. One of the Gaels two losses came at now-No. 20 Syracuse, which is 4-0-0 on the year.
FGCU returns home next week for another marquee match against Washington on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. The Huskies are currently No. 10 in the nation with a 2-1-0 record. Washington went 16-2-4 last year, won the Pac-12 title and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament after earning the No. 2 overall seed. The Huskies finished the campaign ranked No. 5 in the nation and return eight starters in 2014 from that team.
FGCU MEN’S SOCCER RANKING HISTORY
10/5/2010: No. 25 Soccer America
10/12/2010: No. 24 Soccer America
10/14/2010: No. 24 Top Drawer Soccer
10/19/2010: No. 21 Soccer America
10/26/2010: No. 23 Soccer America
11/2/2010: No. 19 Soccer America
11/9/2010: No. 19 Soccer America
11/16/2010: No. 20 Soccer America (Final Poll)
8/2/2011: No. 14 GOAL.com (Preseason Poll)
8/30/2011: No. 22 GOAL.com
9/27/2011: No. 25 GOAL.com
For 2014 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.