ORLANDO, Fla. – Redshirt junior goalkeeper Nathan Ingham made seven saves en route to earning his sixth shutout of the season Tuesday night as the FGCU men’s soccer team (5-6-5) played its third scoreless draw of the year, tying host UCF (2-9-6) in the Eagles’ non-conference finale, 0-0.
Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) made several big stops throughout the evening to keep FGCU in the contest as his seven saves are tied for the eighth-most in a single game in program history, while the six shutouts on the campaign are tied for the third-most in a single season. Ingham now boasts 16 career shutouts – 15 of which have come in 2012 and 2014 – and is just three shutouts shy of tying the all-time program record of 19 held by Adam Glick.
FGCU and Ingham lowered their league-leading goals-against average to 0.81 as the Eagles blanked an opponent for the second time in their last four outings. For the game, FGCU out-shot UCF, 14-11, as the two sides are now 1-1-2 against each other in four all-time meetings.
“I was pleased overall with the effort from the guys tonight,” said head coach Bob Butehorn. “They really competed well given the conditions and the significance of the game.”
The match was the final regular-season game for UCF, which will head to Dallas later this week to begin play in the American Athletic Conference Championship. Meanwhile, FGCU concludes its regular season Saturday at home in a must-win contest against USC Upstate if the Eagles want to earn a record fifth-straight Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title.
UCF started the night with the ball and had a majority of the possession in the early going, but FGCU nearly took the lead just 13 minutes in when Skylar Wilks (Tampa, Fla./Newsome HS) let one fly from about 25 yards out but rang his left-footed shot off the right post. The effort was set up thanks to a pair of great moves in the midfield, first by Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) to break out of the backfield and then by Miguel Jaime (Greenwood Village, Colo./Cherry Creek HS) to feed a long pass perfectly onto the run of Wilks up the left side.
Over the final 35 minutes of the half, each side had a few good opportunities to jump ahead, but couldn’t finish. On UCF’s side that was due in large part to the play of Ingham, who made three first-half saves and none of them were easy.
The first came in the 18th minute when he dove to his right to stop an effort from about 20 yards by Jake Weiss which was ticketed for the inside left netting. The second came just six minutes later as Ingham made a point-blank save on Romario Williams, deflecting the ball off the left post and back into his arms. The final save of the opening 45 minutes came in the 43rd minute as Ingham again stopped Williams, who was sent a long ball from the back and fired a hard shot right at Ingham, who was lined up close to the left post.
FGCU had three other good opportunities to get on the scoreboard in the first half as David Robledo (Dallas, Texas/Hillcrest HS) had a left-footed effort in the box miss just to the left in the 27th minute. Only four minutes later Arion Sobers-Assue (Miami, Fla./DeMatha Catholic HS) had a shot saved by UCF starting keeper Zach Biggs, who was again tested just a minute later when Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) had an opportunity to finish a cross from the wing, but his one-time effort out of the air went over the crossbar.
The Green and Blue started the second half much better than the first, controlling possession but not having anything to show for it until Ruiz put two more shots on frame which were saved in the 62nd and 65th minutes.
In-between the Ruiz shots, UCF had a great opportunity to take the lead on a set piece from just outside the top of the box, but Ingham made a tremendous save to keep the shutout intact. Once again it was Williams who was robbed, as he fired a shot which was deflected and seemingly heading over the goal line before Ingham – who was diving to his right – reached back over his body to his left to get a hand on the ball. An ensuing scramble saw the ball ricochet off the crossbar and then another UCF shot went high.
In the closing minutes of regulation, FGCU had a couple chances to get the game-winner, but Wilks’ free kick to the back post in the 81st minute went for naught, followed by Santiago Echeverri (Medellin, Colombia/Celebration HS) who had a shot saved in the 85th minute.
With 45 seconds remaining and the game destined for overtime, Fernando Laverde sent a long shot from distance which quickly sank and nearly found its way under the bar before another brilliant save by Ingham, who leaped up and punched the ball back over the crossbar, sending the game to overtime.
In overtime, FGCU had all three of the shots in the initial stanza and then both of the shots in the second session as the Eagles controlled the pace and had a 5-0 edge in shots in the 20 minutes of overtime but couldn’t come up with a result.
FGCU returns to action Saturday night at 7 against USC Upstate. FGCU does not control its own destiny to host the A-Sun Championship Nov. 12-16 as the Eagles and Lipscomb (both 3-1-1 in A-Sun action) are both just two points behind current league leader Stetson with 12 points. However, Lipscomb and FGCU both have one conference match remaining while the Hatters completed their league slate this past Saturday with a 1-0 double-overtime loss at Northern Kentucky.
FGCU can still earn its record fifth-straight A-Sun regular-season championship and subsequent tournament hosting responsibilities with a win over USC Upstate and a Lipscomb loss or tie at Jacksonville (also Saturday at 7 p.m.). If FGCU and Lipscomb both win their final matches and conclude the season with 13 points, the Bisons will host the tournament as a result of last Saturday’s 2-1 head-to-head victory. If neither FGCU nor Lipscomb win (or if they both tie), Stetson will win the regular season with 12 points.
FGCU is an incredible 31-4-3 in A-Sun regular-season action since the start of the 2010 season. All four of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 114 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 96 of them.
FGCU has 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 25 in a row in which the Eagles are unbeaten (22-0-3). 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 2,204 days.
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.
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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.