Matchup: FGCU (0-2-0) @ Vermont (1-1-0)
When: Friday, Sept. 1 | 7 PM
Coaches: Jesse Cormier (1st Season @ FGCU (0-2-0); 14th Overall, 114-91-47) | Rob Dow (1st Season @ Vermont (1-1-0); Same Overall)
Matchup: FGCU vs. Central Connecticut State (0-1-0)
When: Sunday, Sept. 3 | 11:30 AM
Coach: Shaun Green (33rd Season @ CCSU (269-263-61); Same Overall)
BURLINGTON, VT – Looking to bounce back from a pair of tough losses against nationally-recognized teams last week to open the season, the FGCU men’s soccer team returns to action this weekend with a pair of matches against Vermont and Central Connecticut State.
Both games will be part of Vermont’s Peter Baldwin Memorial Classic on UVM’s campus. The Eagles open their Northeast weekend with the host Catamounts on Friday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. before taking on the Blue Devils on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 11:30 a.m.
Vermont opened the year with a 4-1 win at Hartwick (D-I for men’s soccer) before suffering a 2-1 loss to San Diego State two days later on Army’s campus in West Point. CCSU, meanwhile, has only played one game, but the Blue Devils put up a valiant effort before falling just short to then-#18 UMass-Lowell in overtime, 2-1.
FAMILIAR FACE RETURNS
This weekend will mark the return of Jesse Cormier to Vermont. The first-year head coach of FGCU spent the previous 13 seasons at UVM as the Catamounts head coach. He won 14 games with the Catamounts in 2016 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round.
During his time with Vermont, Cormier guided the program to the America East Tournament in 12 of 13 seasons, making five title game appearances, winning two tournament crowns, claiming a regular-season championship and advancing to three NCAA tournaments, including a pair of Second Round appearances.
RECAPPING LAST WEEKEND
FGCU suffered a tough 3-1 setback at #3 Denver in the season opener on Friday night. On Sunday, the Eagles battled an Air Force team – which is now receiving votes in the national polls – before falling just short, 3-2. In both games, FGCU was without ASUN Preseason Player of the Year Albert Ruiz and ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team member Kamar Marriott because of injuries.
TOUGH STARTING STRETCH
The matchup with Vermont will conclude a challenging opening three-game stretch for FGCU as the Catamounts finished with an RPI of No. 29 a season ago. Denver, Air Force and Vermont combined to go 48-15-5 last year and win four NCAA Tournament contests. FGCU led the nation in points last year with 179, Air Force was 4th (133), Denver was 5th (128) and Vermont was 8th (120).
SLOW START … GREAT FINISH?
Despite the 0-2-0 start to the season, FGCU can look back to just a year ago for motivation to quickly turn things around. The Eagles began the 2016 campaign 0-2-1 before rattling off a program- and nation-best 10-straight wins en route to a 14-4-3 overall record, an ASUN Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament Second Round appearance.
First-year head coach Rob Dow inherits the reigns after serving the past five seasons on UVM’s coaching staff, including the previous two years as associate head coach. Vermont welcomes 15 fresh faces to the 2017 roster after the 2016 team achieved its highest RPI and national ranking (#16) since 1989. One of the newcomers, junior transfer Geo Alves, was named America East Player of the Week on Monday after racking up seven points in his first two contests last weekend on three goals and one assist.
SCOUTING CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE
Seniors Nick Velleca and Luke Albertini return to lead the squad as co-captains. Velleca earned All-Northeast Conference Second Team honors last season and started 14 games between the goalposts. Albertini has started all but one game in the midfield over the last two seasons. Also returning for CCSU is sophomore Andres Muriel Albino, who was named to the NEC All-Rookie Team last year.
FGCU enters the season as the preseason ASUN favorites. Reigning ASUN Player of the Year Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/UE Cornella/CE L’Hospitalet) was selected as the unanimous preseason choice to repeat, while Nicolas Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) was chosen as the ASUN Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Senior midfielders Miguel Jaime (Denver, Colo./Cherry Creek HS) and Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS) joined Ruiz and Samayoa on the 12-player All-ASUN Preseason Team.
It marks the fifth-straight season that FGCU has been selected as the preseason ASUN favorites (co-favorites with Lipscomb in 2014). Impressively, the Eagles have lived up to that billing each year as the Green and Blue have won either the ASUN regular season title or tournament championship every single campaign since 2010 (regular season and tournament champions in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016).
RECORD-SETTING 2016 CAMPAIGN
FGCU led the country in nearly every offensive category a season ago, including goals with 62 – nine more than any other team. The club reached record heights as it secured a program-record 14 wins.
The Eagles advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round for the first time after claiming a 3-0 triumph in penalty kicks at USF in the opening round following a 2-2 double-overtime tie. FGCU went on to face North Carolina, and the Green and Blue had a 2-1 lead until an 86th-minute goal by the Tar Heels. FGCU played the final 52 minutes of the match with 10 men, and UNC finally tallied a double-overtime goal to emerge victorious, 3-2. The Eagles return nearly every player from 2016, including 10 starters.
The Eagles – who are receiving votes in the College Soccer News National Poll this week – began the year ranked #15 in the media outlet’s preseason poll. It marked the fourth-straight season that FGCU has been nationally ranked. The Eagles finished last year #20 in the NSCAA Poll (now United Soccer Coaches) after being ranked for the final nine weeks of the season and climbing to a program-best #11 in mid-October.
FGCU NATIONAL RANKING HISTORY
10/5/2010: #25 Soccer America
10/12/2010: #24 Soccer America
10/14/2010: #24 Top Drawer Soccer
10/19/2010: #21 Soccer America
10/26/2010: #23 Soccer America
11/2/2010: #19 Soccer America
11/9/2010: #19 Soccer America
11/16/2010: #20 Soccer America (Final Poll)
8/2/2011: #14 Goal.com (Preseason Poll)
8/30/2011: #22 Goal.com
9/27/2011: #25 Goal.com
9/9/2014: #24 NSCAA and Soccer America
8/31/2015: #19 Top Drawer Soccer
10/13/2015: #22 Top Drawer Soccer
10/20/2015: #22 Top Drawer Soccer
9/27/2016: #15 NSCAA
10/4/2016: #12 NSCAA
10/11/2016: #12 NSCAA
10/18/2016: #11 NSCAA
10/25/2016: #20 NSCAA
11/1/2016: #22 NSCAA
11/8/2016: #21 NSCAA
11/15/2016: #18 NSCAA
12/13/2016: #20 NSCAA (Final Poll)
8/3/2017: #15 College Soccer News (Preseason Poll)
Ruiz was named to the 2017 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List as one of the nation’s top players after finishing runner-up for the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy a season ago. The lethal striker – who is also one of just three forwards on Top Drawer Soccer’s Preseason Best XI list – destroyed single-season program records in goals (22) and points (49) en route to being named an NSCAA First Team All-American – the first ASUN Conference representative since 1997.
The senior – the only unanimous selection to the ASUN Preseason All-Conference Team – scored five more goals and totaled nine more points than any other player in the country in 2016. He also led all Division-I players in goals per game (1.10; next closest: 0.89) and points per game (2.45; next closest: 1.95). By himself, Ruiz scored more goals than 74 teams – more than one-third of the 203 D-I men’s programs – and secured more points than 43 teams last season.
INSIDE THE SCHEDULE
FGCU’s 17-game schedule features 11 non-conference matchups and eight home contests all scheduled for 7 p.m. starts. Three opponents made NCAA Tournament appearances in 2016, and three more lost in their respective conference tournament final. Nine opponents join FGCU in having finished in the top 100 of the RPI last year (FGCU: No. 36), and another was just outside the top 100.
FGCU’s home contest against UCF originally scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20, has been moved to Tuesday, Sept. 19. The contest will still be played at the FGCU Soccer Complex, and will begin at the originally-scheduled time of 7 p.m. Fans who have already purchased tickets to the game and are now unable to attend because of the date change will be allowed to redeem their ticket(s) for another home men’s soccer game of their choosing this season, or will receive a refund.
BUILDING A CHAMPIONSHIP PROGRAM
Since the program’s first two seasons in 2007 and 2008, FGCU has posted a winning record each of the past eight years, including double-figure victory totals in half of those campaigns. All-time, the Eagles are 95-65-24 (.582) in 10+ seasons, including a dominant 52-18-7 (.721) record in ASUN contests.
FGCU has produced six professional players – including two current MLS members in Rodrigo Saravia (Columbus Crew) and Aaron Guillen (FC Dallas) – and 63 ASUN All-Conference selections. In just six years of D-I postseason eligibility, FGCU has won four ASUN Tournament championships and made four NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2016 – and won an unprecedented six-straight ASUN regular-season championships from 2010-15.
After four games away from home to start the season, FGCU will have its home opener next Sunday, Sept. 10, against VCU. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from the FGCU Soccer Complex.
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.
HEAD COACH JESSE CORMIER
Jesse Cormier was hired in January 2017 to become just the 2nd head coach in program history. The head coach at Vermont for the previous 13 seasons, Cormier won 14 games with the Catamounts in 2016 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. During his time with Vermont, Cormier guided the program to the America East Tournament in 12 of 13 seasons, making five title game appearances, winning two tournament crowns, claiming a regular-season championship and advancing to three NCAA tournaments, including a pair of Second Round appearances. Cormier has a 114-91-47 (.546 winning percentage) overall record as a head coach.
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.