FORT MYERS, Fla. – Sophomore Isaiah Madrid sent a curving, perfectly-placed shot off a free kick into the upper corner of the net in the second overtime Saturday night to give the FGCU men’s soccer team (3-4-3, 2-0-0 Atlantic Sun Conference) a 1-0 win in its home league opener against in-state foe Stetson (3-5-2, 1-1-0 A-Sun) at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) set up the opportunity for Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado HS/Westminster) as he was fouled about 25 yards out in the middle of the pitch. From there, Madrid – the defending A-Sun Freshman of the Year –netted his first goal of the season as he sent the right-footed shot over the Stetson wall and about as close to the post and crossbar as a shot can get to move the Eagles into sole possession of first place in the A-Sun after only two games.
“I’m proud of Isaiah because we had talked about sticking to his game and remaining positive, and it finally paid off as he got a great goal,” said head coach Bob Butehorn. “Stetson did a great job and they were a handful tonight, but I’m glad we got the result and now we head to Northern Kentucky and see if we can make the next step.”
The second step of the A-Sun season moved the Eagles to 2-0 on the year as the four-time defending A-Sun regular-season champions already have six points – two clear of Lipscomb (1-0-1). The triumph over Stetson also extends FGCU’s home regular-season A-Sun unbeaten streak to 24 straight (22-0-2) as the Green and Blue have not lost a league regular-season home game since 2008 – a stretch of 2,175 days.
Goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) earned his league-leading fourth shutout of the season as the redshirt junior moved one step closer to the career program mark of 19, held by 2011 graduate Adam Glick. Ingham – who now has 14 career shutouts – needed to make just one save on the evening as he was rarely tested, but thwarted a majority of the Hatters’ crosses and potential scoring opportunities.
FGCU controlled the majority of play throughout the night, but particularly from 70-minute mark until Madrid’s heroics. In that 35-minute stretch, Stetson sank in defensively and rarely committed men forward as the Eagles locked the Hatters into their own end. Eleven of FGCU’s 17 shots on the night came in the closing 35 minutes, compared with just two of Stetson’s five total shots. The Green and Blue also finished with a 10-3 corner advantage for the game, but held a 7-0 edge in that category over the final 35 minutes.
Stetson’s lone great chance of the closing 35 minutes came with about six minutes remaining in regulation as Jared Huber took advantage of a fortunate bounce near midfield which allowed him to move in on Ingham 1-on-1. However, realizing he had taken a big touch near the top of the box, Ingham charged at Huber, forcing his shot off to the right and harmlessly out of play.
In addition to FGCU’s home regular-season conference dominance (which stands at 23-4-3 all-time), the Eagles now have an overall record of 30-3-2 in all A-Sun regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. All three of those conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 105 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 92 of them.
FGCU entered the contest with the A-Sun’s most stout defense, and lowered its already low goals-against average to 0.65 following another 104 minutes of scoreless action. Nationally, FGCU ranked 30th in goals-against average coming into the night (0.72). FGCU has only allowed seven goals in 10 games this year, and only two of the seven have come in the regular run of play. The other five have come in the form of an own goal, penalty kick, set-piece strike and two corners.
With a crowd of 746, FGCU set a single-season home attendance record after only six games. The record now stands at 5,392 as this year marks the first time in program history that FGCU has played in front of at least 5,000 fans in a single season. The previous record was 4,955 in 2011. FGCU still has at least three home matches remaining in the regular season, and would host the conference tournament if it earns the top seed.
FGCU will now have a week off before returning to action next Saturday, Oct. 11, at Northern Kentucky University (2-4-4, 0-0-1 A-Sun). The Eagles will then continue the long weekend road trip by heading to Louisville to battle the Cardinals – currently ranked No. 6 in the nation – on Tuesday, Oct. 14, in a non-league match. FGCU will next be in action at home on Tuesday, Oct. 21, for a non-conference tilt with FAU at 7 p.m.
GAME NOTES: The 10 corners for FGCU are the most since in a single game since it had 12 on Oct. 14, 2012, against North Florida … Felipe DeSousa finished with a game-high four shots … Madrid entered as a sub and played 34 minutes, attempting three shots … Derek Gebhard also attempted three shots and had a great chance to end the game in the first overtime, but his shot from inside the box just sailed over the crossbar … Stetson was issued two yellow cards (both in the first half); FGCU was issued one … the all-time series between FGCU and Stetson is now tied, 4-4.
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.