ORLANDO – The FGCU men’s soccer team (3-2-1) staked itself to a three-goal second-half advantage and rolled to its third-straight win with a 3-1 victory Wednesday night at UCF (0-3-0).
Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS), Robert Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain/Brevard College/IES Calmot) and Arion Sobers-Assue (Miami, Fla./DeMatha Catholic HS) tallied FGCU’s strikes in the 39th, 57th and 63rd minutes, respectively, as the Eagles posted a season-high three goals. All three players also added assists and finished the contest with three points.
The Eagles looked positioned to secure their first shutout of the season, but a UCF goal by Jesus Colombo in the 74th minute eliminated the clean sheet. Regardless, sophomore goalkeeper Sawyer Jackman (Chicago, Ill./St. Charles East HS) made six saves – several of which were highlight-reel material – to keep the Green and Blue in the contest early and retain the lead in the second half.
“We allowed UCF a few chances in the first half and a pretty good one in the second half, but other than that I thought we really dictated the play tonight,” commented FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn. “We maintained possession most of the night and were able to stretch the ball out wide. We’re a little banged up right now, so I was also really pleased with our bench tonight as those guys stepped up big and played important minutes.”
FGCU – ranked #6 in this week’s NSCAA Southeast Region Poll – got its first goal off a quick build up following a goal kick late in the first half. Kamar Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS) played a long ball along the ground to Sobers-Assue near midfield. Sobers-Assue quickly one-touched a pass to Zapata, who played a ball out wide to Justin Gavin (Brooklyn, N.Y./Eastern Florida State College/Treasure Coast HS). Gavin used a few touches to advance into the right side of the UCF box and played a ball across the goal mouth to the back post where Zapata finished in one-time fashion for his second goal of the campaign.
The eventual game-winner came off the foot of Ferrer after a great set up off a throw in. The ball was delivered into the ASUN’s point leader, Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella), along the goal line and he delivered a backward pass over his defender’s head perfectly on to Sobers-Assue. The redshirt sophomore then chested the ball back to Ferrer near the top of the box and the junior transfer delivered his first goal with the Eagles.
The insurance strike appeared to be going to Ferrer as well, but his curving shot from about 25 yards out careened off the crossbar. With a leaping effort, Sobers-Assue headed his second goal of the year into the far side of the net to give the Eagles a 3-0 lead.
That was all FGCU would need as Jackman came within one save of matching his career high of seven set last year at Brown. After Butehorn alternated starting goalkeepers the first four games of the year, Jackman has received the nod each of the last three contests and has delivered with three wins, only three goals allowed and 14 saves.
Following a feeling-out process by both sides to begin the match, UCF had the first quality chances of the night – and they came quickly and consecutively in a couple-minute span around the 20th minute. However, Jackman was equal to the task all three times as he first stopped a header off a cross, followed with another save off a header after a corner and then thwarted a left-footed shot from close distance shortly thereafter to keep the game scoreless.
FGCU faced a mental battle all night after Thomas Delplace (Toulouse, France/Scientific Bac), the Eagles’ starting freshman center back, left on a stretcher after suffering a right lower-leg injury just more than three minutes into the match. Delplace cut across the box and legally challenged what would have been a quality Knights’ scoring chance in the box, but his shin collided with the attacking UCF player’s leg. Delplace was taken to the hospital, and an update on his status will likely be available on Thursday.
Playing just its third game of the year and opening contest of a six-game homestand, UCF tried to overcome a 1-0 halftime deficit and what grew to a two-goal margin early in the second half with a shot by Nathan Bondswell in the 60th minute which appeared to be ticketed for the inside-right netting. However, Jackman again had different thoughts as he dove to his left to keep the Knights, at that point, off the scoreboard.
UCF eventually broke through on the goal by Colombo about 15 minutes later. Richard Amon played a thru ball to Colombo, who beat Jackman 1-on-1.
FGCU entered the contest leading the ASUN and ranked 4th in the nation in shots per game, but UCF attempted just one more than the Eagles Wednesday, finishing the contest with a 13-12 advantage. Corners for the evening were even at 4-4, but the big difference came in net as Jackman stopped all but one effort on frame while UCF’s Matt Rosenberg did not make a save.
FGCU now leads the all-time series with their in-state foe, 2-1-2. It also marks just the second time this year through FGCU’s first six games that a Green and Blue contest has not been decided by a 2-1 margin.
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.
“Our fans are going to be extremely important on Saturday night,” exclaimed Butehorn. “They really give our guys a big boost. We’re starting to play well, so it should be a great game, and our fans are vital in helping us get a quality result Saturday.”
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 118-92-26 (.555) overall record, 84-60-22 (.572) 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.