FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off a successful 2-0 weekend at the USF Tournament, the FGCU men’s soccer team will carry the momentum of the program’s first-ever three-game non-conference win streak into Friday when it hosts the start of the Courtyard By Marriott Classic at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
The four-team classic boasts a field of FGCU (3-2-0), FIU (5-0), No. 21 Furman (4-1-1) and VCU (3-0-2) that has a combined record of 15-3-3. Three of the four teams are currently ranked in the latest TopDawerSoccer.com Tournament 48 with Furman coming in at No. 24, FGCU at No. 37 and FIU at No. 41 – all three teams are also ranked in the NSCAA South Region.
No. 21 Furman and unbeaten FIU will kick-off the classic on Friday, Sept. 14 at 5 p.m., while the second-ever meeting between FGCU and the A-10’s newest member VCU will begin at 7:30 p.m. In the first meeting between the two clubs, FGCU defeated VCU, 2-1, in 2010 at the Richmond Classic when then-senior Matthew O’Shaughnessy scored on a 60-yard free kick with one second left in double-overtime.
Friday’s 7:30 p.m. showdown between FGCU and VCU will be a “Green Out.” All tickets for Friday night’s game will be half off for fans that wear green to the game in support of the Eagles.
Sunday’s lone matchup will pin FGCU – No. 6 in the NSCAA South Region – against Furman – No. 5 in the NSCAA South Region – in the first meeting between the clubs since FGCU’s inaugural season (2007) when the Paladins took a 3-0 decision at the Coastal Carolina Tournament. Kick-off is slated for 2:30 p.m. Live in-game updates off all the games can be found on twitter @FGCUMensSoccer, while live stats are available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com.
FGCU’s 2-0 weekend at the USF Tournament included a 2-0 triumph over MAAC favorite Iona last Thursday and a convincing 3-0 win against South Carolina, who is three slots ahead of the Eagles in the TopDrawerSoccer.com poll at No. 34. All five of the Eagles’ goals in the tournament came in the second half, as the Green and Blue have out-scored their opponents 7-1 during their current three-game win streak.
A common dominator in all three of FGCU’s wins this season has been senior forward Will Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS), who has scored in each of the three contests. Morse is the first player in the six-year history of the program to score in three straight games and was awarded with a spot on the College Soccer News National Team of the Week and the Atlantic Sun Player of the Week accolade.
The youthful but deep FGCU lineup has seen five different players score a goal, while nine players have at least one point. Building cohesion in the first five games, the backline that features three freshmen and two sophomores has helped the Eagles post back-to-back shutouts for the first time since the end of the 2010 campaign. Sophomore keeper Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS) was sensational in the shutout of South Carolina, making five saves, including three in the second half. Ingham has built off his 2011 A-Sun Tournament MVP run last year, logging every minute in net so far this season with 18 saves and two shutouts against a schedule that has boasted five consecutive teams ranked in TopDawerSoccer.com’s Tournament 48.
Along with updates on twitter @FGCUMensSoccer and @FGCUEagles, fans can also get men’s soccer updates from around the Atlantic Sun and the nation by using the hashtag #ASUNMSOC or #D1MSOC.
New to the 2012 season, FGCU Athletics is excited to offer the Half-Price Sunday Soccer Punch Pass for both adults and youths. This offer is available now through the ticket office and will be available through September 16. They will also be on sale at the ticket office on soccer gamedays.
Scouting FIU (5-0-0)
Under the direction of first-year head coach Kenny Arena, FIU ranks in a tie for second in the nation with five wins. The perfect 5-0-0 record to start the season is the Panthers best start since 1987, the program’s first year in Division I. The five victories also match FIU’s total from all of 2011, highlighted by a 3-1 win at Wisconsin last Friday. Freshman keeper Robin Spiegel was named the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Week on Monday and owns a 0.61 GAA this season. FIU received 12 votes in the Soccer Times poll and also received votes from College Soccer News.
Scouting No. 21 Furman (4-1-1)
Ranked No. 21 for the second straight week in the Soccer Times poll, Furman rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the second half to earn a 2-2 draw with Memphis in its last outing to claim the championship of the 2012 Diadora/Spinx Gray Griffin Memorial Tournament. Furman is No. 24 in the latest TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Tournament 48, No. 25 in the College Soccer News poll and is receiving votes in the NSCAA poll. The Paladins have scored at least two goals in all six games this season and currently rank tied for third in the nation in goals (16) and 11th in scoring offense (2.67). Led by head coach Doug Allison, Furman won 14 games in 2011, finishing second in the SoCon while earning an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament. Senior Coleton Henning and sophomore Walker Zimmerman were among 42 NCAA Division I men's soccer players named to the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List prior to the season.
Scouting VCU (3-0-2)
Ranked No. 4 in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region, the Rams joined the Atlantic 10 Conference in the summer after previously being at member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Like the Eagles, VCU is coming off a strong tournament showing, picking up a convincing 3-0 win over Winthrop and a 5-1 victory against BIG EAST member Seton Hall at the Stihl Classic hosted by Old Dominion. Having already made a senior appearance for Jamaica’s national team in 2010, junior forward Jason Johnson leads the team with four goals after picking up three last weekend at the Stihl Classic en route to being named the A-10 Player of the Week. VCU, who has out-scored its opponents 12-3, is unbeaten through its first five matches for the second straight season.
FGCU/Courtyard By Marriott Classic Schedule
Friday, Sept. 14
FIU vs. No. 21 Furman – 5:00 p.m.
VCU vs. FGCU – 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Sept. 16
No. 21 Furman vs. FGCU – 2:30 p.m.