JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A goal by freshman Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./North Broward Prep) in just the 4th minute of play gave the FGCU men’s soccer team an early lead and it never looked back as it captured its second straight Atlantic Sun Conference regular season title with a 4-1 win at North Florida on Sunday afternoon.
The Eagles, who are 16-1 in the A-Sun over the last two seasons, will make their first-ever postseason appearance as the No. 1 seed at the conference tournament beginning on Nov. 9 in Johnson City, Tenn. With their No. 1 seed, the Green and Blue and get a bye into the semifinals where they will take on the winner of fourth-seeded Mercer and fifth-seeded Lipscomb.
FGCU is now 10-4-2 on the season and finished atop the A-Sun standings with a 7-1 mark. The Eagles still have one regular season game remaining when they travel across the state to take on FIU on Nov. 4.
“Overall, I’m proud of the way our team approached this game, as we knew UNF’s record was not indicative of their talent level,” said fifth-year head coach Bob Butehorn. “To clinch the regular season title on the road was a challenge, but one that our players certainly embraced. That being said, we know that our work is not done as we get ready for FIU next week.”
Silva’s goal at the 3:08 mark of the first half was his second over the same time span, as he notched the game-winner just three nights ago in the 93rd minute in a 2-1 victory over then conference-unbeaten Jacksonville. The Boca Raton, Fla. product has five goals on the season, including four game-winners. Senior midfielder Francesco DiStefano (Kissimmee, Fla./Osceola HS) recorded his third assist of the year, after setting up Silva on the play.
FGCU’s early goal would prove to be the only tally of the half as the teams headed to the intermission with the Eagles out in front 1-0. At the break, the Green and Blue held a 7-2 shot advantage and neither team attempted a corner.
Finding more success in the second frame, the Eagles were able to post three more goals on the scoreboard. On a quick give-and-go from senior midfielder Josey Portillo (Metairie, La./Grace King HS), classmate Cristian Raudales (Bradenton, Fla./Manatee HS) was able to find the back of the net for his team-leading sixth goal of the season in the 56th minute. The assist by Portillo was his team-best seventh of the season, a mark which established a new single-season program record.
The Eagles made it a 3-0 contest off the foot of sophomore Nick Patterson (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake HS) at the 68-minute mark. Following a shot on goal by Silva which was saved by UNF’s Federico Bertele, Patterson was able to put home the rebound for his second goal of the season.
UNF eliminated the shutout possibility with a goal at the 77:51 mark. Teddy Mulamba netted his first goal of the season on an assist from Enrique Haeussler, bringing the score to 3-1 in favor of the Eagles.
FGCU would strike one last time in the game, again off the laces of Patterson in the 79th minute. Senior midfielder Jonathan Hohn (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./Royal Palm Beach HS) sent a through ball in to Patterson, who finished near post for his second score of the contest, and third this season. The lead would hold firm as the Eagles went on to claim the 4-1 victory.
Freshman Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS) made his fourth start in net for the Green and Blue. The netminder finished the contest with three saves while improving to 4-0 this season.
The final line on the match had the Eagles holding a 12-8 lead in shots with UNF taking the only three corner kicks of the afternoon.
The Eagles will close the regular season with the trip to FIU beginning at 7 p.m. The Green and Blue will then travel to Johnson City, Tenn. for the A-Sun tournament for the semifinal matchup on Friday, Nov. 11. Live stats, in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUMensSoccer and @FGCUEagles), results and recaps from all FGCU contests will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.