FORT MYERS, Fla. – A controversial goal by visiting FIU (9-4-0) Tuesday night gave the Panthers a 2-1 overtime victory against the No. 22 FGCU men’s soccer team (5-3-3) in the Eagles’ home regular-season finale.
In a crucial late-season non-conference match, the two top-50 RPI programs battled to a 1-1 draw through the end of the regulation before the disputed finish in the 95th minute. FIU played a ball through to the right wing where Jamar Campion-Hinds received it, but not before the Panthers’ were ruled offside by the linesman, who stopped along the sideline and held his flag up for several seconds.
However, the head official did not blow his whistle, and seconds later after most players on the pitch had stopped or slowed down expecting the offside call, Campion-Hinds played a ball to an unmarked Darren Rios in the box, who easily one-timed it into the back of the net to give FIU the victory.
The disappointing result snapped FGCU’s six-game unbeaten streak and prevented the Eagles from securing another result against a now top-30 RPI program as they were looking to continue building their postseason résumé.
“Unfortunate isn’t even a word I would use to describe the ending,” said FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn. “A game with this magnitude didn’t deserve that ending. I think it was just a poor judgement call and it affected 22 guys on the field. Both teams played hard, and the biggest takeaway for our guys is to play through the whistle, but this is certainly a tough one.”
Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) scored FGCU’s lone goal on a penalty kick in the 33rd minute. The PK conversion was his fourth of the year as the sophomore has already tied the career program record with four made penalty kicks. The penalty was given after Justin Gavin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Eastern Florida State College/Treasure Coast HS) was taken down just after entering the corner of the box.
FIU entered the contest with the nation’s highest-scoring offense and the Eagles kept the Panthers at bay for a majority of the night, but the Miami-based school finally pushed through in the 59th minute. Ismael Longo delivered a corner kick onto the back post where Patrick Lopez had gotten completely free against a typically stalwart FGCU backline and he one-timed a finish into a wide open net to tie the game at 1-1.
Each side had a few good chances the rest of the evening, but FIU finished with a 14-9 shot advantage, including 6-4 on frame. FGCU goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) made two of his better saves of the year in the contest, with the first coming in the 12th minute as he came off his line and made a charging save near the top of the box on Nicholas Midttun.
Ingham – who entered the match with the nation’s fourth-best goals-against average at a miniscule 0.37 – made a phenomenal save in the 49th minute which at the time kept his shutout bid in tact. A cross from the left wing was delivered perfectly onto the head of Santiago Patino, who directed the ball back toward the upper 90 and away from Ingham’s momentum, but the 6-2 keeper leaped and with his outstretched right first punched the ball out for a corner.
It marks the first time since FGCU’s last loss – a 2-1 setback at now-No. 11 USF on Sept. 19 – that the Eagles have allowed two goals in a game. On the other side, it now represents the 11th time in FIU’s 13 contests this year that it has tallied at least two goals.
The Eagles had a great opportunity to open the scoring in the 23rd minute when Skylar Wilks (Tampa, Fla./Newsome HS) sent a corner perfectly into the box and toward the near post, but an open Gavin sent his header wide of the frame. The corner was set up by a brilliant ball over the top from the backline by Eli Roubos (Toronto, Ontario/Oregon State/Northview Heights Secondary), who placed it perfectly onto the run of Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS). Zapata’s right-footed effort was saved by FIU keeper Arthur Clapot.
FGCU will now direct its focus back into Atlantic Sun Conference play as the Eagles will travel to USC Upstate (5-4-0, 1-1-0 A-Sun) for their final league match of the regular season on Saturday at 7 p.m. With a win, the Eagles (3-0-1 A-Sun) will guarantee themselves at least a share of an unprecedented sixth-straight A-Sun regular-season title as second-place North Florida (6-5-1, 2-0-1 A-Sun) still has two conference matches remaining. USC Upstate faces Stetson (4-8-1, 0-3-0) at home on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Since the start of the 2010 season, FGCU is 35-4-4 in all A-Sun regular-season games. All four of those losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 129 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 109 of them.
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 45 A-Sun All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just four years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three A-Sun Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and has won an unprecedented five-straight A-Sun regular-season championships. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets. Now in his 13th season as a head coach, Butehorn has a 113-90-25 (.550) overall record, 79-58-21 (.566) mark in his 9th season at FGCU and 47-17-6 (.714) record in A-Sun contests.
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.