MIAMI – The FGCU men’s soccer team (1-3-3) returns to action Wednesday when the Eagles travel to FIU (2-3-1) for their first mid-week contest of the season. The match against the Panthers will serve as the pseudo finale to the non-league docket and is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Live stats and video can be accessed by following the links associated with this release or by visiting FIUSports.com. The contest marks the second straight year FGCU and FIU have played each other as the two teams had met every year since FGCU joined Division I in 2007 up until the 2012 season. FIU holds a 4-2 edge in the series, but over the past four matches the series is split, 2-2.
LAST YEAR’S MEETING
FIU took a 3-0 first-half lead, but FGCU fought back before eventually falling to the Panthers, 4-3, in its home opener last year. The Eagles scored in the final 15 seconds of the first half to go into the locker room down 3-1. Trailing 4-1 with a little over 20 minutes remaining, Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) scored twice over that span to pull FGCU within one, and an Aaron Guillen (El Paso, Texas/Coronado HS) shot with only 2:30 left rang off the post but it wasn’t enough to pull even as FIU snapped FGCU’s 10-match unbeaten streak.
FGCU boasts the best defense in the Atlantic Sun Conference and one of the best defenses in the entire nation. The Eagles lead the A-Sun in goals-against average (0.52), fewest goals allowed (4) and shutouts (3). Nationally, FGCU ranks 17th in goals-against average, and its team save percentage of .871 is 16th-best in the country.
Individually, redshirt junior goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) has three shutouts to his name this year, while no one else in the league even has two. His .867 save percentage easily leads the conference (no one else is even at .800), and he is the only goalie in the A-Sun with a goals-against average below 1.0. His 0.52 average is 18th in the nation, while his .867 save percentage is 17th in the country.
Ingham, who missed most of last year with a concussion, has 13 career shutouts. He is just six shy of tying 2011 graduate Adam Glick’s program record for shutouts with 19. On the year there have been nine shutouts recorded by A-Sun teams, and Ingham is responsible for 33 percent of those.
FIU is coming off a 2-1 win Friday night against a San Diego State team which was receiving votes in the NSCAA National Poll. The Panthers opened the year with a 1-0 win at Michigan before dropping two straight – one to A-Sun member Stetson. FIU tied Elon, 0-0, before falling 2-1 at ETSU in advance of its game versus SDSU.
The match against ETSU was a homecoming for FIU head coach Scott Calabrese, who is in his first year with the Panthers after spending the previous six at ETSU. Last year, his Buccaneers won the A-Sun Championship after beating UNF in the title game, 3-1.
Quentin Albrecht, the reigning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week, leads the FIU scoring attack as he is responsible for three of the Panthers’ five total goals. In net, a platoon of David Mitchell and Robin Spiegel have split time as Mitchell has played in four games and made three starts, while Spiegel has started all three of the contests he’s appeared in. Each netminder has a shutout to their credit, but Mitchell has a save percentage of .778 compared with .500 for Spiegel.
FGCU is currently mired in a long scoreless drought, but it hasn’t been for a lack of chances. In fact, the Eagles lead the A-Sun in shots with 112 – one of only two teams with at least 100 shots. The per-game shot average of 16 is nearly three better than the next closest team (Lipscomb, 13.14).
Sophomore Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado HS/Westminster) leads the conference in shots per game at 3.60 – one of only two players with at least a 3.0 average (Lucas Diniz, Stetson, 3.14). In addition to the shot attempts, the Green and Blue have generated 41 corner attempts – second in the league only to Stetson’s 43. Furthermore, FGCU’s average of 5.86 corners per game leads all A-Sun teams.
LAST TIME OUT
FGCU out-shot Brown, 22-11, and put eight shots on frame compared with just two for the Ivy League member Saturday evening, but the Eagles and Bears played to a 0-0 double-overtime tie. The Green and Blue’s best chance came in the 3rd minute of the first overtime session when Derek Gebhard (Severna Park, Md./George Steinbrenner HS) played a ball on the ground to a cutting Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca/Delray) in the box. The redshirt senior one-timed his effort and rang it off the post, just two inches too far left from what would have been his first goal of the season. The 0-0 tie was the second of the year for FGCU (Sept. 4 vs. Portland), which prior to this year had never had two scoreless ties in the same season in program history.
The first official RPI rankings are scheduled to be released this week, and despite an overall record of just 1-3-3, FGCU should find itself in a favorable position due in large part to the extremely challenging non-conference schedule head coach Bob Butehorn has put together. Of the first seven opponents FGCU has faced this year, four have either been nationally ranked or receiving votes in the national poll, while the other three have defeated nationally-ranked teams.
FGCU will have its first weekend off from competitive action as the Eagles will next take to the pitch on Wednesday, Oct. 1, as they open A-Sun play at Jacksonville. FGCU will be back at home next Saturday, Oct. 4, to face Stetson at 7 p.m. Despite beginning league play next week, FGCU will still play three more non-conference matches, including the current No. 9-ranked Louisville Cardinals.
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.