LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Winners of its last three games by a combined score of 7-2, the FGCU men’s soccer team (4-4-3, 3-0-0 Atlantic Sun Conference) takes a break from league action Tuesday when the Eagles face another formidable non-conference opponent in No. 18 Louisville (5-5-1, 3-2-0 ACC) at 7:30 p.m.
While FGCU enters the match on a three-game winning streak, Louisville has dropped four in a row after being ranked as high as No. 6 in the nation two weeks ago. The meeting will be the first between the two clubs, and in fact will be the first time FGCU has ever played an ACC member. The Eagles matched up with Syracuse in 2008, but the Orange were a member of the Big East Conference at the time.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be video streamed by GoCardsTV, a subscription-based service available by clicking the link attached to this release or by visiting GoCards.com. Live stats will also be available through the accompanying link. Additionally, fans can follow the official Twitter account of the FGCU men’s soccer program (@FGCU_MSoccer) for up-to-the minute information.
The Cardinals enter Tuesday’s match looking to end a four-game losing skid, the longest such streak since dropping four straight during the 2008 season. With only six matches left in the regular season, Louisville looks to turn things around with an important five-match stretch at Dr. Mark and Cindy Lynn Stadium. Overall, the Cardinals are 3-2-1 at Lynn Stadium this season and 64-17-15 at home in nine seasons under the direction of head coach Ken Lolla.
Louisville is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss at No. 6 Notre Dame Friday night. Ricardo Velazco and Ben Strong lead the Louisville offense with four goals and three assists each for 11 points. In net, Joachim Ball started the first 10 games of the year before freshman Nick Jeffs got the nod for the Notre Dame contest. Ball has 11 goals against in 927:47 minutes for a goal-against average of 1.07.
Louisville will be just the latest test in a grueling non-conference schedule for FGCU which head coach Bob Butehorn has called the most difficult in program history. Despite a .500 record, FGCU has an RPI of 84 – the highest among all A-Sun teams – as a result of the demanding non-league slate, which includes seven top-75 RPI programs and the No. 2 RPI team, Washington. The Eagles have already played three top-50 RPI teams, and Louisville will make that number four as the Cardinals are currently 39th in the rankings.
FGCU has always played a challenging non-conference schedule, and as it has shown the Eagles have used that to prepare for the league slate. Of the eight non-conference opponents FGCU has faced already, four were either nationally ranked or receiving votes in the national poll, while the other four had defeated nationally-ranked teams.
Below is FGCU’s record each season since 2010 before playing its first conference game and then its record for the remainder of the season following its first league contest:
2010: 4-2-2 > 10-1-1
2011: 3-2-2 > 9-4-0
2012: 3-4-1 > 8-2-1
2013: 2-5-1 > 6-2-1
2014: 1-4-3 > 3-0-0
Total: 13-17-9 > 36-9-3
Some of those opponents following FGCU’s first A-Sun match were not conference foes, but the Eagles have clearly used the non-league slate to help pave the way to their four straight A-Sun regular-season championships.
FGCU boasts the best defense in the A-Sun and one of the best defensive units in the entire nation. The Eagles lead the A-Sun in goals-against average (0.68), fewest goals allowed (8) and shutouts (4). Nationally, FGCU ranks 21st in goals-against average, and its team save percentage of .837 is 24th-best in the country. If FGCU’s total goals allowed was doubled, the resulting 16 scores would be the same amount as the next closest team in the A-Sun (Lipscomb, 17).
Individually, Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) has four shutouts to his name this year. His .833 save percentage easily leads the conference (no one else is even at .740), and he is the only goalie in the A-Sun with a goals-against average below 1.0. His 0.68 average is 24th in the nation, while his .833 save percentage is 23rd in the country.
Looking closer at the goals FGCU has allowed this year, only two of the eight have come in the regular run of play. The other six have come in the form of an own goal, penalty kick, set-piece strike and three corners.
OFFENSE COMING ON
After scoring just four goals through its first eight games, FGCU has tallied seven goals in its last three contests, including two different three-goal performances. The finishes are a long time coming as it hasn’t been for a lack of chances. The Eagles have led the A-Sun for most of the year in shots (currently averaging 16 per game – more than two more than its next closest competitor), while FGCU also paces the conference in corners (62) and has the top two individual shots-per-game leaders in Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) and Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado HS/Westminster).
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Aaron Guillen (El Paso, Texas/Coronado HS) was named the A-Sun Men’s Soccer Defensive Player of the Week on Monday after assisting on FGCU’s first goal and serving as the central defender of the Eagles’ defensive unit which defeated Northern Kentucky University Saturday, 3-1. Guillen sent a long ball over the top of the NKU defense in the 37th minute and perfectly onto the run of Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet), who turned and easily finished his first career goal. The assist was the first of the season for Guillen, who now has three career assists as he had two during the 2012 campaign.
The honor was the first of Guillen’s career as he joins Ingham as the second FGCU player to win the league’s Defensive Player of the Week award this year. Guillen helped limit NKU to only a 78th-minute goal off a corner kick as the FGCU backline continues to be one of the best not only in the A-Sun but nationally as well.
FGCU scored 27 goals last season, and all 27 were from players who returned this year. The 100-percent return rate is the best in the country, tied with SIU Edwardsville which only scored 14 goals in 2013.
Highest Pct. of Goals Returning
1. FGCU – 100.0 (27/27)
SIU Edwardsville – 100.0 (14/14)
3. Evansville – 97.1 (33/34)
4. Syracuse – 96.7 (29/30)
5. North Carolina – 89.5 (17/19)
6. Missouri State – 88.2 (15/17)
7. Virginia – 86.6 (39/45)
Buffalo – 86.6 (13/15)
9. NJIT – 84.0 (21/25)
Duke – 84.0 (21/25)
11. FIU – 81.5 (22/27)
12. UAB – 81.4 (35/43)
13. Cincinnati – 81.3 (13/16)
14. Connecticut – 80.6 (29/36)
15. South Carolina – 80.0 (20/25)
LAST TIME OUT
On the strength of a late first-half goal from freshman Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) and early second-half strikes from Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca/Delray) and Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori), FGCU dominated host NKU Saturday night as the Eagles cruised to the aforementioned win.
CLOSING IN ON RECORDS
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Ingham, who missed most of last year with a concussion, has 14 career shutouts. He is just five shy of tying 2011 graduate Adam Glick’s program record for shutouts with 19. On the year there have been 16 shutouts recorded by A-Sun teams, and Ingham is responsible for 25 percent of those by himself.
DeSousa, who is just a junior and already holds the program record for game-winning goals with seven, is closing in on the all-time goals record. He has 17 finishes in his career and needs just two to tie and three to break 2011 graduate Cristian Raudales’s record of 19. Additionally, DeSousa is chasing down Raudales’s career point record, which currently stands at 43.
FGCU has been the preeminent program in the A-Sun since 2010 as the Eagles boast an incredible record of 31-3-2 in A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All three of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 108 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 95 of them.
Additionally, FGCU has the longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak in the nation. The 24-game unbeaten run dates back to 2008 (22-0-2). 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 conference loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008.
Furthermore, combined with the men’s soccer program, FGCU’s women’s soccer team (5-0) and volleyball team (5-0) have combined to produce a dominant 13-0 record in A-Sun action so far this year.
FGCU, which is in a nearly two-week break from A-Sun action, has a week off before returning home on Tuesday, Oct. 21, for a non-conference tilt with FAU at 7 p.m. The Eagles will be in action again a few days later as they resume league play with a contest against North Florida on Friday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m.
For men’s soccer ticket information, visit the Alico Arena Ticket Office, call 239-590-7145 or log on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. For up-to-the minute information and a behind-the-scenes look at the program, follow on Twitter @FGCU_MSoccer and Instagram @FGCU_MSoccer.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached 30 A-Sun All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just three years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to the NCAA Tournament twice – in 2011 and 2012 – and has won an unprecedented four-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.