LAKEPOINT, Ga. – Coming off a record-setting season and a fourth ASUN Tournament Championship in six years in 2016, the #23 FGCU men’s soccer team has been installed as the 2017 preseason ASUN favorites, as voted on by the league’s head coaches. Additionally, reigning ASUN Player of the Year Albert Ruiz was selected as the unanimous preseason choice to repeat, while Nicolas Samayoa was chosen as the ASUN Preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
Senior midfielders Miguel Jaime and Kamar Marriott joined Ruiz and Samayoa on the 12-player All-ASUN Preseason Team as FGCU and North Florida tied for the most selections with four.
FGCU picked up five 1st-place votes and totaled 43 points to run away from a tight top-4 grouping as North Florida (36 points) came in 2nd, Lipscomb (35) was slotted 3rd and Jacksonville (34) was 4th. NJIT (22), Stetson (18) and USC Upstate (8) rounded out the seven-team preseason poll.
“It’s certainly an honor to be selected as the preseason favorites in what we as a staff and a team know is a very good, challenging league from top to bottom,” said FGCU first-year head coach Jesse Cormier. “The honors for Albert and Nico (Samayoa), along with Kamar and Miggy (Jaime), are certainly well-deserved and great recognition and respect for them. But our guys know and understand preseason polls don’t mean much, if anything, and we need to be ready to meet every challenge over the coming months to reach our ultimate goals later in the year.”
It marks the fifth-straight season that FGCU has been selected as the preseason ASUN favorites (co-favorites with Lipscomb in 2014). Impressively, the Eagles have lived up to that billing each year as the Green and Blue have won either the ASUN regular season title or tournament championship every single campaign since 2010 (regular season and tournament champions in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016).
FGCU led the country in nearly every offensive category a season ago, including goals with 62 – nine more than any other team. The club reached record heights as it secured a program-record 14 wins as part of a 14-4-3 overall record. Included in that victory total was a program- and nation-best 10-match winning streak in the middle of the season. The Eagles return nearly every player from that team, including national goals (22) and points (49) leader Ruiz.
The Eagles begin this year ranked #23 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll (formerly the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America). While there are several prominent and respected national polls, the United Soccer Coaches is the only official poll the NCAA recognizes, and FGCU is the lone ASUN representative.
It marks the fourth-straight season that FGCU has been nationally ranked, but the first time in program history the Green and Blue have received a spot in the United Soccer Coaches (or NSCAA) Preseason Poll. The Eagles finished last year #20 in the NSCAA Poll after being ranked for the final nine weeks of the season and climbing to a program-best #11 in mid-October.
Below is more information on each of FGCU’s preseason all-conference selections.
Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) has been named to the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List as one of the nation’s top players after finishing runner-up for the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy a season ago. The lethal striker destroyed single-season program records in goals and points en route to being named an NSCAA First Team All-American – the first ASUN Conference representative since 1997.
The senior – the only unanimous selection to the ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team – scored five more goals and totaled nine more points than any other player in the country in 2016. He also led all Division-I players in goals per game (1.10; next closest: 0.89) and points per game (2.45; next closest: 1.95). By himself, Ruiz scored more goals than 74 teams – more than one-third of the 203 D-I men’s programs – and secured more points than 43 teams last season.
Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) is coming off an ASUN First Team selection in 2016. The senior is a pivotal member of FGCU’s backline, which last year allowed just six goals in ASUN action – tied for the 2nd-fewest in the league. In addition to his defensive prowess, Samayoa scored one goal and added an assist for the third-straight season last year.
A durable, reliable force in the central defense, Samayoa logged the 3rd-most minutes on the team last year with 1,628. He played and started in all 19 regular season and ASUN Tournament games before missing the NCAA Tournament First Round contest at USF but returning for the Second Round at North Carolina. He came off the bench to play 46 minutes against the Tar Heels – the first time in 51 career matches he has not started.
Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS) completed another brilliant campaign in 2016, being named an ASUN First Team member, an NSCAA All-Southeast Region Second Team selection and an ASUN All-Tournament Team performer. He served as the ‘1’ in what proved to be FGCU’s lethal, nation-best 3-1-4-2 formation as he controlled the middle of the pitch for the Eagles.
The midfielder logged a team-high 1,798 minutes – the 8th-most in single-season program history – 131 minutes more than anyone else on the team and nearly 450 more than all but two other players. Marriott scored one goal and added two assists for four points. His lone goal of the year came in the regular-season finale in FGCU’s 1-1 draw at Lipscomb to help the Green and Blue secure the No. 2 seed and home-field advantage in the ASUN Tournament Semifinal and Final. His final two assists came in dramatic fashion as he issued the primary helper on the go-ahead and game-winning goals in the ASUN Championship Final versus Jacksonville.
Jaime (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek HS) was named to the ASUN All-Tournament Team last year and was also an ASUN All-Academic Team selection. The senior was one of just five players to appear in all 21 games, making 16 starts. He scored two goals and added three assists from his midfield position to finish the campaign with seven points.
Like Marriott and Samayoa, Jaime helped secure an FGCU backline which was stout in ASUN regular-season action. Additionally, Jaime is just the second FGCU player in program history to be named to the ASUN All-Academic Team twice.
Since the program’s first two seasons in 2007 and 2008, FGCU has posted a winning record each of the past eight years, including double-figure victory totals in half of those campaigns. All-time, the Eagles are 95-63-24 (.588) in 10 seasons, including a dominant 52-18-7 (.721) record in ASUN contests. FGCU has produced six professional players and 63 ASUN All-Conference selections. In just six years of D-I postseason eligibility, FGCU has won four ASUN Tournament championships and made four NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016 – and won an unprecedented six-straight ASUN regular-season championships from 2010-15.
The Eagles will commence their 2017 schedule with a marquee matchup as they travel to Colorado to take on defending College Cup participant Denver (Aug. 25), which is ranked #3 in the United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll.
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 114-89-47 (.550 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.