IRVINE, CA – A goal in the 2nd minute by Albert Ruiz gave the FGCU men’s soccer team (1-2-1) a lead it held for the next 75 minutes before UC Irvine (1-3-0) equalized, but Dennis Zapata answered right back in the 79th minute to give the Eagles a 2-1 victory over the Anteaters Sunday afternoon.
After conceding the first goal in each of the first three games of the year, FGCU quickly struck on Sunday as Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella) tallied his third goal of the campaign off an assist from Dylan Sacramento (Winnipeg, Manitoba/York University/Bill Crothers S.S.) just 86 seconds into the match. A quick counter by Sacramento was slightly deflected off a UC Irvine defender and on to the foot of Ruiz, who beat goalkeeper Elliot Farmer low and to his right.
It marked the first time all year the Eagles held a lead, and it remained intact until Mario Ortiz knotted the game at 1-1 with a goal at the 77:02 mark.
However, FGCU had a response nearly immediately. Kamar Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS) won a ball at midfield, and a great run by Sacramento opened up space for Marriott to find Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS). The sophomore made a long run down the middle of the pitch, beat a defender and curled a shot into the right-side netting for his first career goal just one minute and two seconds after the Anteaters had tied the contest.
Again with the lead, the Green and Blue made sure it would hold up this time as the FGCU defense did not allow UC Irvine to even attempt a shot in the final 12 minutes.
“We had so many early chances the first three games of the year when we could have gotten up on our opponent and didn’t, so it was good to be able to do that today,” commented FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn. “We were a little bit rugged and tired, but it was really nice to see our guys respond so quickly after UC Irvine scored.
“We still have a lot of maturing to do in order to close out games and we need to handle time management better,” Butehorn continued. “But we grew up a little bit today and it’s something we can hopefully build off heading into next week.”
The contest represented the first time all year the Eagles were out-shot, 12-10, but they made the most of their chances – something they hadn’t done for the most part in the first three games of the year.
Butehorn continued with his trend of alternating starting goalkeepers as sophomore Sawyer Jackman (Chicago, Ill./St. Charles East HS) played all 90 minutes after freshman Jared Brown (Aurora, Ontario/St. Maximilian Kolbe CHS) got the nod on Friday against Loyola Marymount. Jackman made five saves en route to his third career win in five appearances.
Ruiz has opened the year with at least one point in each of the first four games as he now has a team-best three goals – the second-most in the ASUN – and eight points.
The Eagles return to action at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, at the FGCU Soccer Complex against San Francisco. The Dons – who host UC Davis Sunday night – are 1-1 on the year following a 2-1 victory over CSU Bakersfield and a 3-1 setback at Nebraska Omaha.
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 116-92-26 (.551) overall record, 82-60-22 (.567) 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.