SAN FRANCISCO – Fresh off its first official national ranking in program history, the No. 24 FGCU men’s soccer team (1-0-2) heads to the West Coast this weekend for matches against the University of San Francisco (2-1-0) and Saint Mary’s College (1-2-0). The Eagles will first face the Dons on Friday, Sept. 12, at 10 p.m. Eastern before squaring off with the Gaels in Moraga on Sunday, Sept. 14, at 3 p.m. Eastern.
FGCU will be playing its first games after being ranked in the NSCAA/Continental Tire National Poll Tuesday for the first time. The Eagles are also ranked No. 24 in the Soccer America Poll, but the NCAA officially recognizes only the NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) ranking. In the season’s first poll last week, FGCU was the first team left out of the Top 25 as they received 48 votes, two shy of then-No. 25 Clemson.
This is the first time FGCU has appeared in any national poll since Sept. 27, 2011, when it was ranked No. 25 by GOAL.com. The Eagles were ranked three times in 2011 by the media outlet, including a program-record No. 14 in the preseason poll. The Green and Blue first appeared in a national poll Oct. 5, 2010, when they were No. 25 by Soccer America. The Eagles went on to be ranked seven more times in 2010 before finishing the year at No. 20 in the Soccer America Poll.
This will be the second straight year and third time in the past four seasons that FGCU will travel to the West Coast. Last year the Eagles dropped both their matches to Washington and Seattle, but three years ago tied both Washington and Portland while participating in the Nike Invitational.
SCOUTING SAN FRANCISCO
San Francisco has claimed 2-1 wins over then-No. 21 Wisconsin and Cal State Fullerton, with the lone 1-0 loss coming to No. 23 UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago). The Dons have made 31 all-time NCAA Tournament appearances, claiming four national championships in the process – the fourth most in NCAA history.
The matchup with USF will be the first between the two programs and will also represent the Dons’ home opener. Miguel Aguilar leads the offensive attack for San Francisco with a pair of goals for four points. Davi Ramos has added a goal and an assist for three points on the young campaign, while Danny Kirkland has the lone other goal for the Dons. In net, Chase Hauser has started all three games and has a goals-against average of 1.00 and a save percentage of .700.
SCOUTING SAINT MARY’S
Saint Mary’s, which plays in the West Coast Conference – the same league which Portland and San Francisco play in – is 1-2 on the season, but claimed a huge win at then-No. 4 (now No. 10) Washington Sunday afternoon. The Gaels lost 1-0 in double-overtime at Colgate and then 3-0 at now-No. 20 Syracuse to open the season two weeks ago as they made the trek across the country to Central New York.
Michael Semenza was named the WCC Player of the Week after delivering assists on both of Saint Mary’s goals in its triumph over Washington. That win was the Gaels' first-ever against a top-5 opponent and the first over nationally-ranked opposition since defeating 8th-ranked UC Irvine in the second round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Like the match with San Francisco, this will be the first meeting between FGCU and Saint Mary’s. The game is scheduled to be played on campus at Garaventa Field as opposed to the 5,500-seat Saint Mary’s Stadium which is undergoing facility renovations.
FGCU likes to play fast on the field, and the Eagles have gotten out to a quick start on the year as they are unbeaten through the first three games of a season for the first time in program history. Though FGCU has just one win, a 2-0 decision over rival USF to kick off the campaign, it has tied Portland (0-0) and Akron (1-1). In total, those three tradition-rich programs have made 59 NCAA Tournament appearances, including five College Cup trips (semifinals), three national championship game matches and one national title.
AMONG THE BEST
The FGCU defense has allowed just one goal through the first three games of the season, pitching consecutive shutouts to open the year. The Green and Blue’s 0.29 goals-against average (310 total minutes) is tied for 14th best in the country after two weekends of play, and their .670 shutout percentage is tied for the 15th best. In net, redshirt junior goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) ranks tied for 13th nationally with a .923 save percentage. Furthermore, there have been five shutouts recorded thus far in the Atlantic Sun Conference, and Ingham is responsible for two of them.
Among its A-Sun peers, FGCU is the only school in the league which has allowed only one goal, while five of the other six members have surrendered three or more. While the Eagles have just three goals over three games, the chances have been there as they lead the A-Sun with 46 shots for a per-game average of 15.33. Though he has only played in two games, reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./El Dorado HS/Westminster) leads the league with 3.5 shots per game. Junior Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) is tied for second in the conference with two goals early in the campaign, while his 1.00 goals-per-game average is tied for first in the A-Sun.
FGCU will be heading on the road for the first time this year after beginning the campaign with three straight home games for the first time in program history. The Eagles have played in front of tremendous crowds to start the year, highlighted by Saturday night’s record crowd of 1,574 when they battled 2010 national champion Akron.
The previous FGCU attendance record was 1,556 against then-No. 13 USF during the 2011 season. Saturday’s attendance was just the sixth time in program history FGCU played in front of at least 1,000 fans, and only the second occasion that total has been greater than 1,500. Through the first three games of the season, FGCU has drawn 3,112 fans, which surpasses the entire total from 2013 when seven contests drew a total of 2,948 spectators. Furthermore, FGCU is responsible for nearly half of the A-Sun’s total home attendance (6,267).
FGCU returns home next week for another marquee match against Washington on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. The Huskies are currently No. 10 in the nation with a 2-1-0 record. Washington went 16-2-4 last year, won the Pac 12 Conference title and reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament after earning the No. 2 overall seed. The Huskies finished the campaign ranked No. 5 in the nation and return eight starters from that team. Following the tilt with Washington, FGCU will welcome Brown to the FGCU Soccer Complex on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m.
For 2014 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.