FGCU Falls In NCAA Tournament, 1-0
Published: November 20, 2014
CONWAY, S.C. – After 85 minutes of scoreless action, the FGCU men’s soccer team (8-7-5) surrendered a goal in the 86th minute to No. 25 Coastal Carolina (16-5-1) Thursday night in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament as the host Chanticleers advanced to the second round with a 1-0 victory over the Eagles.
The loss ends FGCU’s season with the Green and Blue making its third NCAA appearance in four seasons of Division-I postseason eligibility. The goal was the first allowed in regulation play of FGCU’s three NCAA Tournament games and came with just 4:49 remaining as the Eagles’ backline and goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) had kept the nation’s highest-scoring offense off the scoreboard until that point.
Ingham had made six saves up to that point – several of which were highlight-reel material – and it took a perfectly-placed diving header to break up a streak of 495:40 in which the redshirt junior had not allowed a goal. Ellis Bjornsson started the game-deciding play with a service from the right side in the air to the near post about six yards out, and from there Martin Melchor dove toward the FGCU goal line, heading the ball past a diving Ingham to his right.
“My hat’s off to Coastal Carolina. They played a very good second half, and while unfortunate for us it was deserving for them,” said FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn. “I’m proud of this group and what they’ve done and how they’ve played a very difficult schedule. But in all honesty I’d be lying if I told you I felt good about this. It was great to back in the NCAA Tournament, but I want this program to take the next step and start winning these games, and that’s something we’re certainly capable of doing with a little bit more work in the offseason.”
Coastal finished with an 18-10 shot advantage, including a 7-1 edge with shots on target. The Chanticleers entered the contest with 46 goals on the year – the most in the nation – but the country’s 15th-best defense in terms of goals against average prevented Coastal from getting many great scoring chances, and when it did Ingham was equal to the task.
Those tasks started early as Ingham reached back across his body to prevent a sure goal in just the third minute of the contest following a shot from Coastal’s Louis Dargent from straight on. The next brilliant stop came off a set-piece effort in the 24th minute as he redirected a bouncing shot from the top of the box.
The Eagles’ first great look of the night came off a designed corner kick in the 30th minute as Skylar Wilks (Tampa, Fla./Newsome HS) played a perfect left-footed corner to the back post where Steven Oliveri (Stuart, Fla./Jensen Beach HS) headed the ball back across the box to Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado HS/Westminster), whose contested effort from about six yards went just wide.
A few minutes later, substitute Derek Gebhard (Severna Park, Md./George Steinbrenner HS) intercepted a poor pass from Coastal’s backline across the field, but with a charging defender coming at him he took a bad touch, allowing the Chanticleers’ keeper to clear the ball out of danger. Gebhard had another opportunity right before the end of the half following a low thru ball up the center of the pitch by Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS), but a terrific sliding tackle from behind by Tom Gudmundsson prevented what would have been a 1-on-1 opportunity for Gebhard against Coastal goalkeeper Devin Cook-Perales.
Early in the second half, Gebhard was the one who played a thru ball to Madrid, but the sophomore’s shot went high as the Eagles were still at the time trying to break the 0-0 tie.
FGCU was playing without senior Santiago Echeverri (Medellin, Colombia./Celebration HS), who received a red card in the Atlantic Sun Championship final against North Florida. Echeverri, Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca/Delray) and Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./North Broward Preparatory School) all saw their careers in the Green and Blue come to an end with the loss to Coastal Carolina. However, the trio – which includes a redshirt senior – has collectively won five A-Sun regular-season championships, three A-Sun Tournament championships and made three appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
In their previous two NCAA Tournament appearances, the Eagles lost in double overtime at UCF in 2011, 1-0, and tied USF in 2012, 0-0, before suffering a setback in penalty kicks, 5-3.
SEASON NOTES: Ingham finished the year tying his own single-season FGCU shutout record with nine – four more than anyone else in the A-Sun … the Eagles went 4-1-1 in the A-Sun to earn an unprecedented fifth-straight regular-season title, an honor they shared with Lipscomb … FGCU played seven top-100 RPI teams … the Eagles saw a record home attendance (7,251 over nine games) … DeSousa finished as the team’s leading scorer with 10 point, while Penagos and Madrid each had eight.
FGCU owns the longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak in the nation. FGCU has not lost a home regular-season A-Sun game since 2008, a stretch of 26 in a row in which the Eagles are unbeaten (23-0-3). 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 A-Sun loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008.
FGCU has an incredible overall record of 32-4-3 in all A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All four of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 117 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 99 of them.
FGCU’S A-SUN DOMINANCE
The A-Sun Tournament Championship for the men’s soccer program added to FGCU’s impressive list of league titles as FGCU now has 40 conference tournament or regular-season championships. Additionally, the Eagles swept the A-Sun men’s and women’s soccer tournament championships for the third time in four years. The NCAA Tournament appearance was the 16th for FGCU in only 3+ years of eligibility.
For up-to-the minute information and a behind-the-scenes look at the FGCU men’s soccer program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_MSoccer and Instagram @FGCU_MSoccer.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached 38 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, and in 2013 he won his 100th career game.
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.