BURLINGTON, Vt. – Despite dominating most of the 1st half and finishing the match with a significant shot advantage, the FGCU men’s soccer team (1-3) suffered a tough 2-0 loss Sunday to Central Connecticut State (2-1) in the championship game of Vermont’s Peter Baldwin Memorial Classic.
CCSU scored the game-winning goal in the 64th minute after some sustained pressure and added an insurance tally with just 32 seconds remaining in the match off a failed FGCU clearance as the Eagles had committed men forward looking for the equalizer.
The typically-staunch FGCU offensive attack – which led the nation in goals last year and entered Sunday’s match with seven goals through its first three games this season – created plenty of chances but couldn’t convert in an atypical, rare shutout.
The Eagles – receiving votes this week in the College Soccer News National Poll – finished the contest with a 17-11 shot advantage, forcing CCSU goalkeeper Nick Velleca into five saves, in addition to two more ‘team’ saves by the CCSU defense. Furthermore, FGCU hit the post in the 5th minute and concluded the game with a 7-3 corner advantage.
It marks the first time since Oct. 13, 2015, that FGCU has been shut out, and the first time since a 1-0 loss in the NCA Tournament at Coastal Carolina on Nov. 20, 2014, that the Eagles were shut out and lost. In the regular season, FGCU hadn’t been shut out in a losing effort since then-#8 Washington picked up a 1-0 triumph on Sept. 18, 2014.
“I’m disappointed because we had plenty of chances to not only win this game, but put it out reach very early and we didn’t take advantage,” commented FGCU head coach Jesse Cormier. “Give CCSU credit – they refused to roll over and fought hard to get a result. But we have a long way to go. I understand we’re going through some adversity right now down a few men, but in order to be the team we want to be we need to be more consistent and get more heart, character and leadership throughout the lineup.”
The FGCU offense came out firing on a rainy, 60-degree late morning as the Eagles attempted the first seven shots of the game, forcing Velleca into three saves – in addition to a team save – in the opening 12 minutes of the match.
After a two-goal performance in FGCU’s 4-0 win over host Vermont on Friday, Preston Kilwien (San Francisco, Calif./College Park HS) nearly had another just more than four minutes into the contest. Miguel Jaime (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek HS) sent a perfect corner kick to the back post where Kilwien had gotten free, but his volley rang off the woodwork.
Just a few minutes later – this time off a corner by Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS) – Dylan Sacramento (Winnipeg, Manitoba/York University/Bill Crothers S.S.) had a near point-blank effort saved. Zapata sent the ball into a dangerous area and it had to be punched out by Velleca, who then fell to the slick turf. The ball ended up on Sacramento’s foot, but the senior’s strike from about six yards was driven right into a seated Velleca.
The Eagles continued to keep up the pressure as a majority of the action took place in the FGCU attacking third in the first half. The Green and Blue dominated the opening stanza to the tune of an 11-2 shot advantage. Five of those efforts were on target and saved by either a CCSU defender or Velleca, and another hit the post. The Eagles also out-cornered the Blue Devils in the opening 45 minutes, 4-0.
Play started to even out a bit in the 2nd half as CCSU began to create a few more chances and eventually converted in the 64th minute. After some sustained pressure in the FGCU end, a header clearance by an FGCU defender in the box didn’t get far enough away. Ryan Taylor was able to slide a pass across and into the front of the net where Louis Beddouri re-directed his first goal of the season into the back of the net.
FGCU continued to attack and had a few quality chances as it chased the equalizer. In the 68th minute, Jaime sent a right-footed, curving shot just over the crossbar. Six minutes later, Sacramento put another shot on target, but Velleca made the save. The keeper came up with another stop in the 83rd minute off an FGCU set piece as Nicolas Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) had his header saved.
However, with just 32 seconds left in the match, CCSU added the insurance strike which for all intents and purposes sealed the win. With FGCU committing men forward, a failed clearance resulted in a relatively easy finish from just inside the 18 for Sebastian Calderon after Andres Albino played a square ball across for the assist.
Making his third-straight start in net, redshirt freshman Connor Gavigan (Aurora, Colo./Creighton/Grandview HS) made three saves as he played all 90 minutes. Sacramento finished the match with a game-high six shots – half of which were on target – in just 64 minutes of action.
Kilwien, Jaime and Samayoa were named to the Peter Baldwin Memorial All-Tournament Team for their performances on Friday and Sunday.
FGCU is still without reigning ASUN Player of the Year and MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List member Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) – the nation’s leading scorer a season ago. Additionally, senior central midfielder Kamar Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS) – an ASUN All-Conference Preseason Team selection – also missed his fourth-straight game to open the season due to an injury. The Eagles are also without some other key players because of injuries as they continue to try and find their form.
After four-straight games to open the season away from the FGCU Soccer Complex, the Eagles are scheduled to have their home opener on Sunday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. against VCU. The Rams suffered a pair of 3-2 losses last weekend against Oakland and Appalachian State before having their match versus Iona on Friday postponed. VCU hosts St. Francis (Pa.) later on Sunday.
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.
HEAD COACH JESSE CORMIER
Jesse Cormier was hired in January 2017 to become just the 2nd head coach in program history. The head coach at Vermont for the previous 13 seasons, Cormier won 14 games with the Catamounts in 2016 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. During his time with Vermont, Cormier guided the program to the America East Tournament in 12 of 13 seasons, making five title game appearances, winning two tournament crowns, claiming a regular-season championship and advancing to three NCAA tournaments, including a pair of Second Round appearances. Cormier has a 115-92-47 (.545 winning percentage) overall record as a head coach.
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.