FORT MYERS, Fla. – It took the FGCU men’s soccer program nearly four years to post its first hat trick, almost another six years to record its second, but then just three days for its third to occur as Arion Sobers-Assue led another lethal Eagles’ offensive attack Tuesday night en route to a dominant 5-1 win by the Green and Blue (5-2-1) over visiting FAU (1-4-1).
The man who posted the second hat trick in program lore on Saturday evening, Albert Ruiz, reached another monumental mark as part of FGCU’s fifth-straight win as the junior netted his eighth goal of the campaign in as many games to set the single-season program record with still nine regular-season matches remaining.
In keeping with the historical theme of the evening, senior defender Santiago Ortiz scored his first career goal in the contest’s waning minutes to cap a second-straight five-goal performance for FGCU as the Eagles became the first team in the ASUN to reach five wins despite starting the year 0-2-1.
The Eagles’ five-game winning streak is their longest since the 2013 season when they rattled off six in a row in the middle of the year. FGCU – which received votes in Top Drawer Soccer’s Top 25 Poll this week – is currently tied for the fifth-longest winning streak in the nation behind only Syracuse (8), Denver (7), Loyola Chicago (6) and Butler (6).
Coupled with Saturday’ 5-0 rout of previously unbeaten UNCW, FGCU has now posted consecutive five-goal games for the first time in program history. Additionally, the 10 goals over the last two contests are tied for the most in a two-game stretch in program history (4-0 vs. Jacksonville and 6-0 vs. North Florida to end the 2010 season).
“It’s a little bit surprising, but I think we saw hints that it might be coming early on in the year,” commented FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn of the offensive outbursts. “We’ve been getting some good chances and some good looks, and they’re going in right now.”
The game was never in doubt for the Eagles, who dominated possession most of the evening and finished with a 22-4 edge in shots, a 7-1 advantage on corners and forced two FAU goalkeepers into making six saves of the 11 shots they put on frame, compared with just one for the Owls.
Sobers-Assue (Miami, Fla./DeMatha Catholic HS) – who missed all of last season recovering from knee surgery – scored his first of the night in the 31st minute off a rebound. Jiro Barriga Toyama (Chiba, Japan/Barton CC/Chibakennrituoihama HS) attempted the initial shot which was saved by starting FAU keeper Daniel Ragoo. However, the ball bounded directly to the redshirt sophomore, who easily one-timed what was then his third goal of the campaign into an open net.
His second of the evening came just minutes later as the striker used an arsenal of moves to beat a pair of defenders and send a bullet of a shot from about 15 yards out into the top left corner of the net and completely out of the reach of Ragoo in the 34th minute.
It appeared the Eagles would take that 2-0 advantage into the halftime break, but Robert Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain/Brevard College/IES Calmot) and Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella) teamed up to push that edge to three with just seconds remaining in the opening stanza. Ferrer played a perfect thru ball up the middle of the pitch to Ruiz, who beat a defender and fired a low shot just inside the right post.
FAU got one goal back early in the second half when Elijah McDonald tallied his second of the year off a free kick in which the ball eventually settled to the senior.
However, the Green and Blue – who entered the match ranked 10th in the nation in goals and 12th in points – had an answer and it once again came from Sobers-Assue, this time in the 61st minute. An initial shot by substitute Shak Adams (Antioch, Tenn./Cane Ridge HS) was saved by Ragoo, but Sobers-Assue again was in the right spot as the ball careened to him. However, this time he needed to take a couple touches and then finish his hat trick into the far left netting to regain the Eagles’ three-goal lead.
That looked destined to be the final margin until Ortiz (Cali, Colombia/Montverde Academy) – who entered with just under 20 minutes remaining – stepped up and curved a shot from about 20 yards around the FAU wall and just inside the right post to beat substitute keeper Luis Aranzazu in the 88th minute. The goal was not only the first of his career, but also the first points during his time in the Green and Blue and on just his second all-time shot – and first since his freshman campaign in 2013.
Freshman Jared Brown (Aurora, Ontario/St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS) got the start in net for the Eagles and allowed just one goal en route to picking up his first career victory.
Ruiz – who easily leads the ASUN in goals (8) and points (19) – also set the FGCU single-season points record with two on Tuesday night, breaking a tie he had with Deion Jones (2010) and Scott Harrison (2008). Harrison recorded the first hat trick in program history on Oct. 31, 2010, against North Florida.
Additionally, Ruiz now has 16 career goals, four shy of breaking the program mark of 19 held by Cristian Raudales from 2008-11. He also now boasts 37 career points, seven shy of surpassing Raudales’s mark of 43.
FGCU will look to keep on rolling as it begins ASUN play with its first-ever match against NJIT (3-2-2) on the Highlanders’ pseudo home field in Union, N.J., on Saturday, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m. NJIT’s new soccer stadium is under construction, so the Highlanders – who joined the ASUN last year but their men’s soccer team remained in the Sun Belt Conference – are playing their home games at Kean University. The Eagles will remain in the New York City area for a few days before playing Rutgers on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Single-game tickets are available for all remaining home games. More information, including special discounts and group rates, can be accessed by visiting FGCUTickets.com. To purchase tickets, or for additional inquiries, call the FGCU Ticket Office at 239-590-7145 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or log on to FGCUTickets.com.
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.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached six professional players and 54 ASUN All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just five years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three ASUN Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and has won an unprecedented six-straight ASUN regular-season championships. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets. Now in his 14th season as a head coach, Butehorn has a 120-92-26 (.559) overall record, 86-60-22 (.577) mark in his 10th season at FGCU and 48-17-6 (.718) record in ASUN contests.
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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.