WILMINGTON, N.C. – Skylar Wilks scored in the 11th minute and Nathan Ingham made it stand up en route to setting the Atlantic Sun Conference record for career shutouts as the FGCU men’s soccer team (7-3-3) earned a 1-0 marquee road win in its regular-season finale against UNC Wilmington (8-6-3) on Saturday evening.
Wilks (Tampa, Fla./Newsome HS) scored his fourth goal of the year with an assist from Miguel Jaime (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek HS) at the 10:11 mark as the Seahawks’ right back misplayed a ball, allowing the senior to walk in uncontested against UNCW goalie Sam Williams. With his strong left foot, Wilks easily beat Williams, leaving Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) and the always-stout FGCU backline to take care of the rest.
In a game which was played primarily in the midfield, Ingham made three saves and defended seven corners as he recorded his league-leading seventh shutout of the year and 26th of his career. With the clean sheet, Ingham surpasses ETSU’s Ryan Coulter (2011-13) for the A-Sun record as league history dates back to 1979.
The victory was another crucial one for FGCU’s postseason resume as UNCW entered the match with an official RPI of 36, while the Eagles came in with an official RPI of 42.
Also on Saturday, FGCU wrapped up the No. 1 seed in next week’s A-Sun Championship. FGCU posted a 4-0-1 mark in A-Sun play this year for 13 points – a total that could only be matched by North Florida on the final day of the league regular season. UNF defeated USC Upstate, 2-0, and also finished with a 4-0-1 A-Sun mark for 13 points; however, since FGCU and UNF tied 1-1 earlier in the year they share the regular-season title but FGCU gets the No. 1 seed as a result of having a +14 goal differential in conference games compared with UNF’s +8.
“I challenged the guys before the game and told them this would be a great spot late in the year to get a result and get experience playing on the road against a good team, and they responded really well,” said FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn. “We got an early goal and it stood up against a big, tough team at home on Senior Night.
“Nate again was fantastic and I’m so pleased for him,” Butehorn continued. “The guys worked incredibly hard in front of him as well. Having the home seed is going to be great for us. Hopefully we can use our fans to our advantage and have a great tournament.”
In a testament to the game being contested in the middle of the pitch most of the evening, UNCW finished with only nine shots – three on target – while FGCU had just five shots – two on target. However, the back four of Luis Vega (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Montverde Academy), Eli Roubos (Toronto, Ontario/Oregon State/Northview Heights Secondary), Nicolas Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) and Aaron Guillen (El Paso, Texas/Coronado HS) again performed admirably in front of Ingham, thwarting several chances and not allowing the Seahawks much of anything to work with all night.
While Ingham surpassed Coulter for the shutout record on Saturday, he also moved further in front of him for the conference’s best career goals against average. Ingham now boasts a 0.93 goals against average for his career, ahead of Coulter’s mark of 0.95.
Ingham – who entered the game ranked eighth in the nation with a 0.49 goals against average this year – lowered that to 0.44 and is on pace to shatter the A-Sun single-season record for goals against average as the current mark is 0.61 held by Centenary’s Damin Hill in 1987.
The Eagles – who entered the match with the nation’s 16th-best non-conference RPI – were ranked No. 22 in the nation the last two weeks by Top Drawer Soccer, while the Seahawks – who came into the game with the country’s 14th-best non-conference RPI – were the first team out of the top 25 in this week’s Top Drawer Soccer national poll.
UNCW was the final test in an extremely challenging non-conference schedule this year for FGCU. With the exception of FAU (186), every non-league opponent the Eagles played this year was ranked in the top 60 of the official RPI, including four in the top 20 and three in the top 10. Below is a list of those non-conference foes and FGCU’s result against them.
@ 1 Wake Forest: L, 1-0
@ 7 USF: L, 2-1
vs. 9 Georgetown: T, 0-0
vs. 20 FIU: L, 2-1 (OT)
@ 36 UNC Wilmington: W, 1-0
vs. 48 Princeton: W, 3-2
@ 56 Brown: W, 2-1
The A-Sun Championship is set to begin on Thursday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. as the FGCU Soccer Complex will serve as host of the match featuring No. 4 seed USC Upstate vs. No. 5 seed Jacksonville. The winner of that contest will then face FGCU in a semifinal at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7. UNF will host the other semifinal against No. 3 seed Lipscomb that same night. The final is set for Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. on the campus of the highest remaining seed. Additional A-Sun Championship information and postseason awards will be announced early next week on FGCUAthletics.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 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 six-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 115-90-25 (.554) overall record, 81-58-21 (.572) mark in his 9th season at FGCU and 48-17-6 (.718) record in A-Sun 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.