FORT MYERS, Fla. – Playing its third game in seven days on both sides of the country, the FGCU men’s soccer team (2-2-1) overcame tired legs to stake itself to a two-goal lead and eventually hung on for a 2-1 win Thursday night versus San Francisco (2-2-0) at the FGCU Soccer Complex for its second-straight win.
Once again the lethal attacking duo of Dylan Sacramento (Winnipeg, Manitoba/York University/Bill Crothers S.S.) and Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella) provided the offense for the Eagles as Sacramento tallied his goal in the first half, and Ruiz netted the game-winner in the second half.
Staved with a 2-0 lead and less than 15 minutes remaining, FGCU looked poised to post its first shutout of the year, but San Francisco instead turned the closing minutes into a tightly-contested game with a goal in the 78th minute.
However, despite a 4-0 Dons’ shot advantage in the closing 13 minutes – include one which was saved by Sawyer Jackman and another which was blocked down by a wall just beyond the top of the 18 – San Francisco wasn’t able to break FGCU as the Eagles claimed their second-consecutive 2-1 triumph.
“I knew it would be a difficult game because we hadn’t stopped since preseason and we’ve been on the road a ton,” commented FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn, whose team has already played three of its five games in Illinois or California. “I’m pleased that we battled, but we showed some signs of immaturity. But at the same time we got some good experience and something they can improve on. Overall, it was a good win for us considering the circumstances.”
Those circumstances – which included a nearly 100-degree heat index at kickoff and roughly 8,000 miles traveled the last two weekends – prompted Butehorn to make a season-high seven substitutions.
One of the two field players to log all 90 minutes was Caleb George (Tampa, Fla./Chamberlain HS), who had totaled only 142 minutes all year entering the contest. The junior started at left back and after a slow start delivered the primary assist on FGCU’s first goal in the 25th minute.
George touched a ball on to Robert Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain/Brevard College/IES Calmot) near midfield and then made a run up the left sideline. Ferrer, after a few touches, played a thru ball to the streaking defender, who caught up to it just inside the box and played a square ball across the penalty area to Sacramento. The striker easily finished his second goal of the campaign with a one touch, giving the Green and Blue a 1-0 lead.
FGCU’s second goal came after Dons’ goalkeeper Andre Glasnovic stopped a Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS) shot and the rebound settled right to Ruiz, who one-time a close effort into the back of the netting for his team-leading fourth goal of the year.
San Francisco had an answer shortly after when David Garrett finished a low cross along the goal line from Christian De Luna past Jackman (Chicago, Ill./St. Charles East HS).
The Dons began the evening with the majority of possession and chances, although none were on target and the Eagles eventually settled in. FGCU’s first good chance of the match came off a quick counter with Zapata and Ruiz working together to eventually set up a Zapata shot in the 11th minute which just missed the net to the left.
For the next 10 minutes, neither team was able to gain substantial possession until the Green and Blue broke through with their goal. Just minutes later, FGCU had a great opportunity to double its lead, but freshman Thomas Delplace (Toulouse, France/Scientific Bac) saw his header careen off the left post. Delplace received a quick restart from Sacramento over the San Francisco back line, but against several Dons’ defenders wasn’t quite able to finish what would have been his first career goal.
After FGCU took the 1-0 lead into the halftime break, San Francisco came out the aggressors to open the second stanza and had several quality chances to tie the game before FGCU pulled ahead by two, but Jackman and his back line was equal to the task, with the sophomore keeper making three saves on the night to move his season record to 2-0-1.
After holding an 8-6 shot edge in the opening half, San Francisco applied plenty of pressure in the second 45 and finished the game with a 17-13 edge in that category, and a 12-5 advantage in corners.
Ruiz and Sacramento have now combined for six of FGCU’s eight goals this year, as Ruiz’s four tallies is tied for the most in the Atlantic Sun Conference and his 10 points now leads the ASUN. Additionally, Ruiz moves into a tie for 4th place on the program’s career goals list with 12, joining Scott Harrison (2008-11) as the junior continues to close in on the all-time mark of 19 held by Cristian Raudales (2008-11). The forward is now also tied for 6th in program lore with 28 points alongside Deion Jones (2009-12), with Raudales also holding that mark (43).
Thursday’s match was the only contest for the Eagles in a 10-day period, and the only match at the FGCU Soccer Complex in an 18-day stretch. FGCU is next in action at UCF (0-2-0 heading into a match at Mercer on Sunday) on Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 7 p.m. before returning to The Nest on Saturday, Sept. 17, to face UNC Wilmington at 7 p.m.
Tickets for all remaining home games are available. 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.
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 117-92-26 (.553) overall record, 83-60-22 (.570) mark in his 10th season at FGCU and 48-17-6 (.718) record in ASUN 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.