DELAND, Fla. – In a battle of the ASUN Conference’s top-2 men’s soccer teams, FGCU (6-4-2, 3-0-1 ASUN) and Stetson (6-5-1, 4-0-1 ASUN) both kept their regular-season championship hopes alive Saturday night with a 1-1 double-overtime tie.
FGCU sophomore Shak Adams put the Eagles in front just a few minutes into the 1st half, Stetson received a penalty kick goal from Deniz Dogan just before the 1st half concluded and the two sides played a scoreless 2nd half and two overtime periods to pick up a point.
With the tie, FGCU and Stetson both remain in position to win the ASUN regular-season crown. While the Hatters are still in sole possession of 1st place with 13 points, they only have one league game left (at Jacksonville (1-2-0 ASUN) on Oct. 20) while the Eagles (2nd place with 10 points) will travel to USC Upstate (0-4-0 ASUN; Oct. 21) and then host NJIT (3-1-0 ASUN; Oct. 28) to wrap up their ASUN schedule.
FGCU still controls its own destiny to claim its seventh ASUN regular-season championship in the last eight years, although the Hatters could join the Eagles as co-champions if both teams win out. If that scenario occurs, the two teams will head to the third tiebreaker (goal differential in conference play, but potentially not the last tiebreaker) to determine the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the ASUN Tournament.
The top-2 teams in the ASUN regular-season standings receive a first-round bye and will host a semifinal tournament game on Nov. 4, with the highest remaining seed hosting the championship final on Nov. 11.
“We came here to get 3 points, so we’re a little disappointed, but it’s a good point to get on the road with so many things against us,” stated FGCU head coach Jesse Cormier. “Both teams had some chances in the 2nd half to pull ahead, and overtime was a bit of a stalemate. We tried to be more proactive and build and construct scoring chances, but we weren’t completely able to do that tonight. But, we live to play another day with the regular-season title still within our grasp.”
The tie extended FGCU’s dominant record to 43-5-6 in all ASUN regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. Out of a possible 162 points that could have been earned in that time, the Green and Blue have claimed an impressive 135 of them (84 percent).
FGCU redshirt freshman goalkeeper Connor Gavigan made eight saves on the evening, and for the fourth-straight game to open conference play did not allow a goal during the run of play. The eight saves are tied for the 7th-most in a single game, and come just four days after he made nine stops against FIU on Tuesday – tied for the 2nd-most in a single game in program history.
The Eagles opened the scoring in the 7th minute off a set piece. Miguel Jaime (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek HS) and Chris Clement (Mallorca, Spain/Lycee Francais de Palma) teamed up to take the short corner, with a perfect service from Jaime finding its way near the Stetson goal line. The ball eventually careened back toward the top of the six-yard box where Adams (Antioch, Tenn./Cane Ridge HS) roofed a left-footed, one-timed effort for his team-leading fifth goal of the campaign.
Just minutes after Adams struck, Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS) nearly doubled the FGCU lead, but his left-footed shot from a tight angle near the left post went just wide of the right post. Later in the half, Gavigan (Aurora, Colo./Creighton/Grandview HS) made a terrific diving save to his right on David Bergstrom to keep the Green and Blue in front.
However, late in the half the head referee ruled that Gavigan took down a Stetson player in the box, and Dogan converted the PK in the 42nd minute. Gavigan guessed correctly and got a hand on Dogan’s shot, but the ball just snuck inside the left post.
The goal was the first allowed by FGCU in conference action all year as the Eagles had opened the league slate with three-straight shutouts for the first time in program history.
That stout FGCU defense – anchored by in the middle by senior Nicholas Samayoa – thwarted several Stetson scoring chances to open the 2nd half and throughout the overtime sessions, including Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) picking off several Stetson scoring chances and even being credited with a ‘team’ save for defending a shot.
“I thought Nico (Samayoa) was outstanding tonight; he led the backline beautifully,” added Cormier. “We were committed to defending the right way tonight as opposed to Tuesday (4-3 double-overtime loss to #14 FIU). We worked well in tight spaces and our communication was much better, and I’m proud of that progress to get back to our roots.”
In the 68th minute, freshman Kareem Riley had a dangerous free kick from just outside the Stetson box after Dylan Sacramento (Winnipeg, Manitoba/York University/Bill Crothers S.S.) was taken down battling for a loose ball. However, Riley (Couva, Trinidad and Tobago/Presentation College) – who has become a lethal weapon on set pieces for the Eagles – had his bending shot just creep over the crossbar in what would have been a sure goal as Stetson goalkeeper Joseph Melong was frozen on his line.
Stetson – which had won five of its previous six games entering the night – nearly won it late in regulation, but Gavigan made a huge save off a header from Daniel O’Brien in the 88th minute by once again diving to his right.
That stop forced FGCU’s second-straight overtime game, and the Eagles nearly won it seven minutes into the first overtime, but Robert Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain/Brevard College/IES Calamot) had his volley attempt off an Adams’ cross trickle past the left post.
In the second overtime, Stetson had a great opportunity from distance in the 102nd minute, but while retreating backward Gavigan punched Dogan’s shot over the crossbar.
FGCU will look to take the next step in its race for the ASUN regular-season title as it remains on the road to travel to Spartanburg, S.C., to face USC Upstate next Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m.
IRMA RELIEF DONATIONS
In the wake of Hurricane Irma, many individuals and families throughout Southwest Florida are still in desperate need of assistance. To aid in those relief efforts, FGCU Athletics will be collecting donations at all Eagle home games for the immediate future. Donation items most needed include: non-perishable food, clothing, household items and first-aid supplies. Additionally, those unable to attend upcoming home games can drop off donations in canisters located in the Alico Arena lobby. All donations will be given to those hardest hit in Lee and Collier counties.
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 120-93-49 (.558 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.