Preview: FGCU At North Florida

September 29, 2017

Matchup: FGCU (3-3-1, 1-0-0 ASUN) @ North Florida (1-6-1, 0-1-0 ASUN)
When: Saturday, Sept. 30 | 7 PM
Where: Jacksonville, Fla. | Hodges Stadium
Links: Watch | Live Stats
Series: FGCU Leads, 8-2-2
Coaches: Jesse Cormier (1st Season @ FGCU (3-3-1); 14th Overall (117-92-48)) | Derek Marinatos (7th Season @ UNF (41-59-8); Same Overall)

 

FORT MYERS, Fla. – In a matchup of the ASUN Conference’s top-two teams in the preseason poll, the FGCU men’s soccer team travels to North Florida for its league road opener on Saturday.

 

OPENING KICK

FGCU was installed as the ASUN preseason favorites, garnering five 1st-place votes and collecting 43 points. North Florida was picked 2nd with 36 points, just ahead of 3rd-place Lipscomb (35) and 4th-place Jacksonville (34).

 

The Eagles opened their ASUN Championship defense last Saturday at home with a 1-0 win over Jacksonville. UNF, meanwhile, lost its first ASUN regular-season game since 2015 last Saturday with a 1-0 setback at home to Stetson.

 

ASUN STANDINGS

Team

PTS

ASUN

OVERALL

Stetson

6

2-0-0

4-4-0

FGCU

3

1-0-0

3-3-1

NJIT

3

1-0-0

6-2-2

Lipscomb

3

1-0-0

5-4-0

North Florida

0

0-1-0

1-6-1

Jacksonville

0

0-1-0

0-7-0

USC Upstate

0

0-2-0

2-6-1

 

ALL-TIME vs. NORTH FLORIDA

FGCU dominated the early matchups against UNF – and still has a large edge in the all-time series – but the Eagles have only won once in the last five meetings, going 1-2-2 in that stretch. FGCU won the first seven meetings between the two sides, but UNF finally got the better of the Green and Blue on its home pitch in the ASUN Tournament in 2013, claiming a 2-1 win. The Eagles returned the favor by defeating the Ospreys in the ASUN Tournament Final the following year, 1-0.

 

Last year, UNF came to the FGCU Soccer Complex when the Eagles were ranked #11 in the country and handed the Green and Blue a 3-2 loss, snapping a nation- and program-best 10-game winning streak. Overall, the Eagles have out-scored the Ospreys, 26-3, in their eight wins, and 34-15 in the 12 all-time meetings.

 

ASUN DOMINANCE

FGCU owns a dominant record of 41-5-5 in all ASUN regular-season games since the start of the 2010 season. Out of a possible 153 points that could have been earned in that time, the Green and Blue have claimed an impressive 128 of them (83.7 percent).

 

ASUN FAVORITES

This year 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).

 

SCOUTING NORTH FLORIDA

^ After opening its season with a 2-0 win over Campbell, UNF has lost six of its last seven games – with the lone exception being a 2-2 tie at Connecticut. The Ospreys are coming off a 5-0 loss at FIU on Tuesday.

^ UNF ranks last in the ASUN with a 2.31 goals-against average and have surrendered 19 goals so far this year.

^ Juanes Fajardo has started the last four matches for the Ospreys, making 24 saves during that period.

^ Adrian Nunez leads UNF with four goals, tied for the 3rd-most in the ASUN.

 

LOCKING IN DEFENSIVELY

FGCU enters action this weekend coming off consecutive 1-0 shutouts of UCF and Jacksonville. It marks the first time since the end of the 2015 regular season that FGCU has shut out two-straight opponents, and the first time since the middle of the 2013 campaign in which the Eagles have posted back-to-back 1-0 wins – and that team recorded three such results in a row.

 

LAST TIME OUT

In a rematch of last year’s ASUN Championship Final, FGCU once again secured a one-goal victory over Jacksonville, this time thanks to a Shak Adams goal in the 18th minute off an assist from Nicolas Samayoa under the lights of the FGCU Soccer Complex last Saturday.

 

The goal was set up by a long pass up the right side by Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde) as he perfectly floated a lengthy delivery from about the mid-point of the FGCU side beyond the JU backline. From there, Adams (Antioch, Tenn./Cane Ridge HS) used his blistering speed to run on to the ball as it bounced a few times into the box, and on his first touch rifled a shot from about six yards over the outstretched arms of JU keeper Patrick Harding.

 

The FGCU backline did not allow Jacksonville to even attempt a shot on goal as the Dolphins fired off just three shots all game.

 

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK

After helping backstop FGCU to the aforementioned pair of shutouts and scoring the game-winning goal over UCF, junior Preston Kilwien was named the ASUN Defensive Player of the Week, league officials announced Monday.

 

Combined, Kilwien (San Francisco, Calif./College Park HS) and the FGCU backline kept most of the pressure off goalkeeper Connor Gavigan, who needed to make just two saves versus UCF and none opposite JU.

 

The honor is the second of Kilwien’s career as he previously earned ASUN Defensive Player of the Week accolades on Sept. 14, 2015. He received that recognition after scoring the game-winning goal in the 89th minute of his collegiate debut versus Princeton, lacing a shot from 35 yards out into the upper-corner of the net to earn the No. 3 spot on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays.

 

INSIDE THE FGCU LINEUP

Despite missing the last four games with a hamstring injury, Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS) continues to lead the Eagles offensively with seven points off two goals and three assists – with the three helpers tied for the 2nd-most in the league. Kilwien is right on his heels with six points off a trio of goals, while Robert Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain)/Brevard/IES Calamot) and Adams rank 3rd on the club with five points from a pair of goals and an assist.

 

After not playing in FGCU’s season opener, Gavigan (Aurora, Colo./Creighton/Grandview HS) has earned the start in net in each of the past five contests, posting a 1.13 goals-against average in that timeframe to check in 3rd among ASUN goalkeepers. He also ranks 3rd in the conference with a .750 save percentage, and 5th in the league in saves with 20.

 

SLOW START … GREAT FINISH?

After opening the season 1-3-0, FGCU is unbeaten in its last three matches. Despite the slow 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 the aforementioned 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.

 

TOUGH STARTING STRETCH

The Eagles have been injury-plagued early in the season, and have also played a challenging schedule as FGCU opened the year at then-#3 Denver, now-#18 Air Force and Vermont. 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).

 

Additionally, in all seven games this year, FGCU has been without several key players and starters because of injuries, including last year’s MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist and ASUN Player of the Year Albert Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella), and ASUN Preseason Team member Kamar Marriott (Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS).

 

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.

 

NATIONALLY RANKED

The Eagles began the year ranked #15 in College Soccer News 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)

 

ALBERT RUIZ

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 was 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.

 

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 98-66-25 (.585) in 10+ seasons, including a dominant 53-18-7 (.724) 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.

 

NEXT UP

FGCU will return home to begin a three-game homestand on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. against #17 Omaha (7-2-1). The Eagles resume to ASUN action on Saturday, Oct. 7, by welcoming Lipscomb to the FGCU Soccer Complex before FIU closes out the stretch on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

 

FGCU Career Records

 

GOALS

 

 

 

POINTS

 

1

Albert Ruiz (14-Present)

30

 

1

Albert Ruiz (14-Present)

67

2

Cristian Raudales (08-11)

19

 

2

Cristian Raudales (08-11)

43

3

Felipe DeSousa (12-14)

18

 

3

Felipe DeSousa (12-14)

38

4

Henry Penagos (10-14)

13

 

4

Arion Sobers-Assue

37

5

Arion Sobers-Assue (14-Present)

12

 

5

Josey Portillo (08-11)

31

 

Scott Harrison (08-11)

12

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSISTS

 

 

 

 

 

1

Josey Portillo (08-11)

15

 

 

 

 

2

Arion Sobers-Assue (14-Present)

13

 

 

 

 

3

Francesco DiStefano (08-11)

12

 

 

 

 

4

Andres Navas (09-12)

11

 

 

 

 

5

Deion Jones (09-12)

10

 

 

 

 

 

FGCU Single-Season Records

 

GOALS

 

 

 

POINTS

 

1

Albert Ruiz (2016)

22

 

1

Albert Ruiz (2016)

49

2

Arion Sobers-Assue (2016)

11

 

2

Arion Sobers-Assue (2016)

33

3

Albert Ruiz (2015)

7

 

3

Deion Jones (2010)

17

 

Felipe DeSousa (2012)

7

 

 

Scott Harrison (2008)

17

 

Cristian Raudales (2011)

7

 

5

Albert Ruiz (2015)

16

 

Deion Jones (2010)

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASSISTS

 

 

1

Arion Sobers-Assue (2016)

11

 

2

Josey Portillo (2011)

7

 

3

Deion Jones (2011)

6

 

 

Donovan Henry (2010)

6

 

 

William Morse (2011)

6

 

 

IRMA RELIEF DONATIONS

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, many individuals and families throughout Southwest Florida are still in desperate need of assistance. To aid in those relief efforts, FGCU Athletics will be collecting donations at all Eagle home games for the immediate future, beginning with both of this weekend’s women’s soccer matches. Donation items most needed include: non-perishable food, clothing, household items and first-aid supplies. Additionally, those unable to attend upcoming home games can drop off donations in canisters located in the Alico Arena lobby. All donations will be given to those hardest hit in Lee and Collier counties.

 

FOLLOW ALONG

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 117-92-48 (.549 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.

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