INDIANAPOLIS – The FGCU men’s soccer team (8-6-5) will open the 2014 NCAA Tournament at Coastal Carolina (15-5-1) on Thursday, Nov. 20, as the complete 48-team field was announced as part of the selection show on NCAA.com Monday afternoon.
The game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. kickoff from Coastal’s campus in Conway, S.C., just minutes from Myrtle Beach. The Eagles punched their ticket to the tournament for the third time in four years of Division-I postseason eligibility by winning the Atlantic Sun Conference Championship Sunday over North Florida, 1-0, while the Chanticleers won the Big South Championship with a 1-0 victory over Radford.
Tickets for the NCAA First Round are available by calling the CCU Athletics Ticket Office at 843-347-8499. Ticket prices are set for $7 for adults and $5 for youth (high school age and below). Fans may purchase tickets at the South Ticket Booth at Brooks Stadium beginning at 5 p.m. the day of the game. All tickets are general admission; bleachers are first-come, first-served. Additional information, including video streaming, will be announced in the coming days.
Coastal Carolina’s Big South Tournament Championship was the 12th in program history as the Chanticleers have now been to the NCAA Tournament 10 times: each of the last five years and also a five-year stretch from 2001-05. Thursday’s match will mark the fourth straight and fifth time overall Coastal has hosted an NCAA Tournament game.
It also marks the second-straight year that Coastal Carolina, ranked No. 25 in the nation (RPI 21), will host the A-Sun Champion as last year the Chanticleers defeated ETSU (now a Southern Conference member) by a 2-0 margin. Coastal went on to upset 13th-seeded Charlotte before losing to California in the round of 16.
“The guys know that they can compete with anyone and we’re ready for the matchup,” said assistant coach Alec Dufty in reference to the Eagles playing an extremely challenging non-conference schedule. “We just need to keep training and keep working on the same things that we’ve done all year to get us to this point. Our guys are pretty good about not worrying about who the opponent is, so when Thursday comes we’ll step out on the field and do what we do best.”
FGCU and Coastal Carolina have no similar opponents this year, but both have taken on several nationally-ranked teams. The two sides have met only one time, but that meeting was the first game in the history of the FGCU men’s soccer program as the Eagles traveled to Coastal to compete in its tournament and defeated the hosts, 3-2, on Aug. 31, 2007.
Backed by goalkeeper and A-Sun Tournament MVP Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS), the Eagles have shut out their last four opponents en route to lowering FGCU’s goals against average to 0.69, which currently ranks 15th in the nation. The backline will once again be put to the test as Coastal Carolina’s 46 goals on the season are the most in the country.
Ingham tied his own single-season clean sheet record with the blanking of UNF as it was his ninth of the season – four more than anyone else in the A-Sun. The shutout also tied Ingham with 2011 graduate Adam Glick for FGCU’s career record of 19. While Ingham has the individual numbers to back up the great defensive season, his backline and midfield has been just as important as FGCU hasn’t allowed a goal in 410:29, dating back to a second-half tally by Lipscomb on Nov. 1.
The A-Sun Tournament Championship win over UNF for FGCU avenged a 2-1 loss in the A-Sun Championship semifinals last year at the hands of the Ospreys. The Eagles are one of just five schools in A-Sun history with three championship titles, and despite only having the opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament four times, FGCU is now tied for the second-most NCAA Tournament appearances in A-Sun history, behind only the four which former member FIU had in the 1990s.
Playing out of a recently-implemented 5-3-2 formation for FGCU, Will Suedois (Nice, France/Florida Virtual School) netted the championship-clinching goal in the 35th minute by pushing forward out of his right back position. The sophomore navigated around several UNF defenders before cutting across the top of the box and firing a left-footed shot from the 18 which beat A-Sun Goalkeeper of the Year Kyle Nasta to his right.
Suedois, Ingham, Santiago Echeverri (Medellin, Colombia/Celebration HS) and Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) all landed on the All-Tournament Team as Echeverri and DeSousa scored the Eagles’ goals in the semifinal win over Northern Kentucky, 2-0.
Should FGCU defeat Coastal Carolina, the Green and Blue would play at Clemson in the NCAA Tournament Second Round on Sunday, Nov. 23. The Tigers are seeded No. 7 and were one of 16 teams which received a first-round bye.
Head coach Bob Butehorn was not with the team at Monday’s selection show as his father passed away on Saturday and he is with his family. He is expected to rejoin the team prior to Thursday’s game.
Together, Butehorn and his colleague on the women’s side, Jim Blankenship, have created a soccer powerhouse in Southwest Florida as the two coaches have combined to win 10 A-Sun regular-season championships and six A-Sun Tournament championships despite only being in the league since 2007-08 and only postseason eligible since 2011-12.
The A-Sun Tournament Championship for the men’s soccer program added to FGCU’s impressive list of league titles as FGCU now has 40 conference tournament or regular-season championships. Additionally, the Eagles swept the A-Sun men’s and women’s soccer tournament championships for the third time in four years as the women’s program dropped a hard-fought home NCAA Tournament match to Auburn Saturday night, 1-0.
FGCU owns the longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak in the nation. FGCU has not lost a home regular-season A-Sun game since 2008, a stretch of 26 in a row in which the Eagles are unbeaten (23-0-3). 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 A-Sun loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008 – an incredible stretch of 2,215 days.
FGCU has an incredible overall record of 32-4-3 in all A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All four of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 117 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 99 of them.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached 38 A-Sun All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just four years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three A-Sun Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and has won an unprecedented five-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.
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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.