HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – The first-place FGCU men’s soccer team (3-4-3, 2-0-0 Atlantic Sun Conference) will look to continue its A-Sun dominance and remain atop the league standings when it travels to take on Northern Kentucky University (2-4-4, 0-0-1 A-Sun) Saturday at 7 p.m.
The four-time defending A-Sun regular-season champions have opened the 2014 league slate with a pair of wins – 3-1 over Jacksonville and 1-0 against Stetson – to move into sole possession of first place already with six points – two clear of second-place Lipscomb (1-0-1, 4 pts). NKU is responsible for that tie as the Norse and Lipscomb played to a scoreless, double-overtime draw last Saturday.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be video streamed free of charge by clicking the link attached to this release or by visiting ASun.TV. Live stats will also be available through the accompanying link. Additionally, fans can follow the official Twitter account of the program (@FGCU_MSoccer) for up-to-the minute information.
FGCU has been the preeminent program in the A-Sun since 2010 as the Eagles boast an incredible record of 30-3-2 in A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All three of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 105 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 92 of them.
Additionally, FGCU has the longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak in the nation. The 24-game unbeaten run dates back to 2008 (22-0-2). 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 conference loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008.
Saturday’s match will be just the third between FGCU and NKU since the Norse joined the A-Sun in 2012. The two sides tied their inaugural meeting, 1-1, in 2012 before the Eagles defeated NKU last year, 1-0. Both of FGCU’s goals against NKU have been scored by Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca/Delray) as the forward finished in the 31st minute of the 2012 meeting and on a penalty kick in the 13th minute of last season’s contest.
NKU was predicted to finish third in the A-Sun Preseason Poll as the Norse received a first-place vote. Cian McDonald leads the Norse with eight points off three goals and two assists. In net, A.J. Fleak ranks second in the league in saves with 45, while his save percentage of .738 is third-best in the conference. Both of NKU’s wins have come in overtime as it defeated Detroit Mercy, 1-0, and Wright State, 4-3. The Norse have only played one game since Sept. 28 – the aforementioned draw with Lipscomb.
FGCU boasts the best defense in the A-Sun and one of the best defensive units in the entire nation. The Eagles lead the A-Sun in goals-against average (0.65), fewest goals allowed (7) and shutouts (4). Nationally, FGCU ranks 25th in goals-against average, and its team save percentage of .821 is 31st-best in the country. If FGCU’s total goals allowed was doubled, the resulting 14 scores would be the same amount as the next closest team in the A-Sun (Lipscomb, 14).
Individually, Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) has four shutouts to his name this year. His .816 save percentage easily leads the conference (no one else is even at .750), and he is the only goalie in the A-Sun with a goals-against average below 1.0. His 0.65 average is 36th in the nation, while his .816 save percentage is 35th in the country.
Looking closer at the goals FGCU has allowed this year, only two of the seven have come in the regular run of play. The other five have come in the form of an own goal, penalty kick, set-piece strike and two corners.
LAST TIME OUT
Sophomore Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado HS/Westminster) sent a curving, perfectly-placed shot off a free kick into the upper corner of the net in the second overtime last Saturday night to give FGCU a 1-0 win in its home league opener against in-state foe Stetson. Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) set up the opportunity for Madrid as he was fouled about 25 yards out in the middle of the pitch. From there, Madrid – the defending A-Sun Freshman of the Year – netted his first goal of the season as he sent the right-footed shot over the Stetson wall and about as close to the post and crossbar as a shot can get.
CLOSING IN ON RECORDS
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Ingham, who missed most of last year with a concussion, has 14 career shutouts. He is just five shy of tying 2011 graduate Adam Glick’s program record for shutouts with 19. On the year there have been 16 shutouts recorded by A-Sun teams, and Ingham is responsible for 25 percent of those by himself.
Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS), who is just a junior and already holds the program record for game-winning goals with seven, is closing in on the all-time goals record. He has 17 finishes in his career and needs just two to tie and three to break 2011 graduate Cristian Raudales’s record of 19. Additionally, DeSousa is chasing down Raudales’s career point record, which currently stands at 43.
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)
TURNING IT AROUND
A slow start by virtue of playing an extremely demanding non-conference schedule is nothing new for FGCU, and this year was no exception as head coach Bob Butehorn assembled the most difficult non-league docket in program history. Of the eight non-conference opponents FGCU has faced already, four were either nationally ranked or receiving votes in the national poll, while the other four had defeated nationally-ranked teams.
Despite a sub-.500 record, FGCU has an RPI of 93 – the highest among all A-Sun teams – as a result of the demanding non-league slate, which includes seven top-75 RPI programs and the No. 1 RPI team, Washington. The Eagles have played five top-50 RPI teams, and only five teams in the nation have a higher RPI with a worse record than FGCU.
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 > 2-0-0
Total: 13-17-9 > 35-9-3
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 titles.
FGCU will remain in the state of Kentucky to face another challenging non-conference opponent as the Eagles will battle No. 18 Louisville on Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. The Cardinals (5-3-1) were ranked No. 6 in the country last week and are currently 34th in the RPI. FGCU will next be in action at home on Tuesday, Oct. 21, for a non-conference tilt with FAU at 7 p.m.
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.