ORLANDO – Coming off consecutive 2-1 victories, the FGCU men’s soccer team (2-2-1) travels to face UCF (0-2-0) on Wednesday night at 7.
FGCU will be playing just its second game in a 10-day stretch after three contests in seven days before that on both sides of the country. UCF, meanwhile, has only played two games all year and will be making its home debut Wednesday. The Knights have had two matches already this season canceled due to weather and will be embarking on a six-game homestand.
After starting the season 0-2-1, FGCU has moved from unranked to #9 last week and settled at #6 this week in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Southeast Region Poll. The Eagles are one of three Atlantic Sun Conference members represented in the region, with the others being Jacksonville at #10 and North Florida at #2.
FGCU has scored in each of its first five games for the first time since 2011, and it’s largely due to increased shot attempts and efforts on frame. The Eagles lead the ASUN in shots with 93 – 20 more than any other team – and their per-game average of 18.6 ranks 4th in the nation. FGCU is averaging 7.4 shots on goal per game to check in at 18th in the country and tops in the league.
Individually, Dylan Sacramento (Winnipeg, Manitoba/York University/Bill Crothers S.S.) ranks 2nd in the country with 5.4 shots per game. Fellow front-liner Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) has tallied at least one point in every game this year. Ruiz is tied for the ASUN lead with four goals and paces the conference with 10 points as his two assists are tied for the 2nd-most in the league.
While the offense, for the most part, has clicked early on for the Eagles, the Green and Blue is still in search of its first clean sheet of the campaign. After head coach Bob Butehorn alternated starting goalkeepers the first four contests of the year, sophomore Sawyer Jackman (Chicago, Ill./St. Charles East HS) has gotten the nod the last two games, making eight saves in that time. Jackman now is 2-0-1 on the year with a goals-against average of 1.24.
LAST TIME vs. UCF
Wednesday will mark the fifth all-time meeting between FGCU and UCF, with the series deadlocked at 1-1-2 after last year’s meeting was declared a “no contest.”
Last season, with then-#19 FGCU leading UCF 2-0, a second lightning delay of the night occurred with 26:33 remaining in the second half and the game was officially declared as a “no contest.” By being deemed a “no contest,” it is as if the game never occurred, and the statistics which were recorded are null and void. If another 6:33 had been played and the game had reached 70 minutes, the contest would have been declared official.
Prior to last year’s “no contest” affair, each of the last two matches between FGCU and UCF have resulted in ties, including 2014’s nil-nil draw in Orlando in FGCU’s final non-conference game of the season.
FGCU and UCF first met in the regular season in 2011 when the Knights were ranked #8 in the nation and the Eagles defeated them on the road, 2-1. FGCU then returned to Orlando later that season as the two sides faced off in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, with UCF claiming a 1-0 triumph in double overtime. The two sides played the following year in 2012 at the FGCU Soccer Complex and finished with a 2-2 draw.
UCF began its year with a 4-2 loss at Grand Canyon before having its next game at Charlotte canceled due to the remnants of Hurricane Hermine. The Knights remained in the Carolinas and a few days later dropped a 2-1 match to South Carolina before having their game at Mercer on Sunday canceled due to inclement weather.
The game against FGCU will mark the first of the aforementioned six-game homestand for UCF as the Knights will next play host to fellow ASUN members Jacksonville (Saturday) and North Florida (next Wednesday).
Richard Amon leads the UCF offensive attack early in the year with a pair of goals, while leading returning scorer Matias Pyysalo has tallied the other goal. In net, Brendan Rennie and Matt Rosenberg have each played one game.
Four of FGCU’s five games this year have been decided by 2-1 margins. The Eagles opened the campaign with a 2-1 loss at Northwestern, tied Michigan, 2-2, before falling at Loyola Marymount, 2-1, in advance of their recent 2-1 wins at UC Irvine and at home versus San Francisco.
DID YOU KNOW?
FGCU owns the longest home conference regular-season unbeaten streak in the nation at 28 straight (25-0-3). The Eagles have not lost a home ASUN regular-season game in nearly eight years, dating back to a 2-0 defeat against Jacksonville in October of 2008 – the program’s second season.
FGCU will return home to host red-hot UNCW on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 7 p.m. The Seahawks are 4-0 to start the year and have outscored their opponents, 12-2. UNCW is receiving votes and is just on the outside of nearly every top 25 national poll this week.
Season and single-game tickets are available for the 2016 campaign, with season tickets starting at just $35. 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.