NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Atlantic Sun Conference men’s soccer preseason co-favorites clash Saturday night in Music City when FGCU (5-5-4, 3-0-1 A-Sun) and Lipscomb (10-3-1, 2-1-1 A-Sun) meet at 8 p.m. (Eastern) in a crucial matchup littered with postseason ramifications.
HOW TO FOLLOW
The game will be video streamed free of charge on ASun.TV, and live stats will also be available. Both links are available at the top of this release and on the men’s soccer schedule page on FGCUAthletics.com. Additional updates will be provided on Twitter by following the official account of the program @FGCU_MSoccer.
A-SUN STANDINGS BREAKDOWN
Below is a breakdown of the current A-Sun standings, including points, records and remaining league games for each team:
1) Stetson: 12 Points | 4-1-0 | @ Northern Kentucky
2) FGCU: 10 Points | 3-0-1 | @ Lipscomb, vs. USC Upstate
3) Lipscomb: 7 Points | 2-1-1 | vs. FGCU, @ Jacksonville
North Florida: 7 Points | 2-2-1 | vs. Northern Kentucky
5) USC Upstate: 3 Points | 1-3-0 | vs. Jacksonville, @ FGCU
Jacksonville: 3 Points | 1-3-0 | @ USC Upstate, vs. Lipscomb
7) Northern Kentucky: 1 Point | 0-3-1 | vs. Stetson, @ North Florida
FGCU has won four-straight A-Sun regular-season championships, and the Eagles control their own destiny as they pursue a record fifth-straight crown. With wins in its final two league games, FGCU will clinch the No. 1 seed and subsequent hosting duties for the A-Sun Championship Nov. 12-16. Several other scenarios exist for the Green and Blue to clinch the No. 1 seed without two wins, but two triumphs guarantees FGCU that honor.
As for Saturday’s match, FGCU will clinch the No. 1 seed with a win AND a Stetson loss or tie at Northern Kentucky (Saturday, 7 p.m.). An FGCU victory gives the Eagles 13 points, while a loss by Stetson leaves the Hatters with 12 points, or 13 points with a tie. While FGCU still has one conference game remaining (next Saturday vs. USC Upstate), Stetson does not, and FGCU owns a 1-0 head-to-head win over the Hatters earlier this year which would serve as the tiebreaker.
Conversely, an FGCU loss or tie at Lipscomb AND a Stetson win over Northern Kentucky will clinch the No. 1 seed for the Hatters.
Lipscomb is the lone team in the A-Sun with double-figure wins as the Bisons have tied a single-season program record with 10 triumphs. Lipscomb is riding a three-match winning streak – its second such run of the season – as the Bisons are coming off non-conference wins versus Longwood (3-1) and Central Arkansas (3-2). Lipscomb has not played a league match since a 1-0 victory at North Florida on Oct. 18.
Lipscomb and FGCU are the two stingiest teams in the A-Sun when it comes to allowing goals as the Eagles easily lead the conference having surrendered only 12 all year, while the Bisons are second with 20. However, in league action both teams have only given up four – tied for the fewest in the A-Sun. On the offensive side of the ball, Luke Gearin is tied for the A-Sun lead with eight goals, while Ivan Alvarado has the second-most assists in the A-Sun with seven.
INSIDE THE MATCHUP
FGCU and Lipscomb both garnered 43 points in the A-Sun Preseason Coaches Poll, with the Bisons getting three first-place votes and the Eagles receiving two first-place votes. Additionally, the two teams’ starting central midfielders were both tabbed as A-Sun Co-Preseason Player of the Year as FGCU’s Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) and Lipscomb’s Omar Djabi shared the honor. Finally, eight of the 13 players on the Preseason All-A-Sun Team hailed from either FGCU (five selections) or Lipscomb (three selections).
FGCU leads the all-time series with Lipscomb, 6-2, as the Eagles have claimed six of the past seven meetings dating back to 2008. Lipscomb took the first meeting between the two sides, 2-0, in 2007, but after that FGCU defeated the Bisons five times over the next five years – all coming by the same 2-1 score. The Eagles dropped a 3-1 match in the regular season last time they played Lipscomb in Nashville in 2012, but rebounded with a 2-1 win in the A-Sun Championship semifinal later that year. Last season, the Green and Blue earned a 1-0 victory at home over the Bisons in the league opener.
FGCU has an incredible overall record of 31-3-3 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 111 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 96 of them.
FGCU boasts the best defense in the A-Sun and one of the best defensive units in the entire nation. The Eagles lead the A-Sun in goals-against average (0.80), fewest goals allowed (12) and shutouts (5). Nationally, FGCU ranks 32nd in goals-against average as the Eagles have not allowed more than two goals in a game all year.
Individually, Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) has five shutouts to his name this year. His .797 save percentage easily leads the conference (no one else is even at .730), and he is the only goalie in the A-Sun with a goals-against average below 1.0 (next closest is 1.31 – a 0.49 difference). His goals-against average is 36th in the nation, as the redshirt junior is just four shutouts shy of tying the program record of 19 held by Adam Glick.
Looking closer at the goals FGCU has allowed this year, only three of the 12 have come in the regular run of play. The other nine have come in the form of an own goal, set-piece strike, three penalty kicks and four corners.
NOT FOR A LACK OF CHANCES
Junior Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) leads the A-Sun in shots per game at 3.55, while sophomore and reigning A-Sun Freshman of the Year Isaiah Madrid (Albuquerque, N.M./Eldorado HS/Westminster) is third at 3.09. FGCU paces the league in shots (221) and shots per game (15.79), in addition to corners (76).
LAST TIME OUT
Despite a 4th-minute penalty-kick goal from Madrid and a go-ahead strike in the 77th minute from Nicolas Samayoa (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Colegio Valle Verde), FGCU settled for a 2-2 tie against visiting North Florida last Friday night at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
FGCU – which entered the night with the nation’s 22nd-best defense and a 0.72 goals-against average – looked poised to complete its second-straight shutout, but UNF scored twice in a six-minute span late in the second half. The first goal in the 72nd minute tied the contest at 1-1, and the second in the 78th minute came not even 50 seconds after FGCU had taken the lead as it knotted the match again, 2-2.
A grueling non-conference schedule for FGCU which head coach Bob Butehorn has called the most difficult in program history will conclude this coming Tuesday, Nov. 4, when the Eagles travel to UCF for a 7 p.m. match. Despite a .500 record, FGCU has an RPI of 110 – the second-highest among all A-Sun teams (Lipscomb, 105) – as a result of the demanding non-league slate, which includes seven top-65 RPI programs and three top-30 RPI teams: (No. 6 Washington, No. 18 Louisville, No. 28 Akron, No. 49 USF, No. 55 Saint Mary’s, No. 56 San Francisco, No. 65 Brown).
FGCU has always played a challenging non-conference schedule, and as it has shown the Eagles have used that to prepare for the league slate. Of the 10 non-conference opponents FGCU has faced already, five were either nationally ranked or receiving votes in the national poll, while four others had defeated nationally-ranked teams.
Below is FGCU’s record each season since 2010 before playing its first conference game and then its record for the remainder of the season following its first league contest:
2010: 4-2-2 > 10-1-1
2011: 3-2-2 > 9-4-0
2012: 3-4-1 > 8-2-1
2013: 2-5-1 > 6-2-1
2014: 1-4-3 > 4-1-1
Total: 13-17-9 > 37-10-4
Some of those opponents following FGCU’s first A-Sun match were not conference foes, but the Eagles have clearly used the non-league slate to help pave the way to their four-straight A-Sun regular-season championships.
FGCU scored 27 goals last season, and all 27 were from players who returned this year. The 100-percent return rate is the best in the country, tied with SIU Edwardsville which only scored 14 goals in 2013.
Highest Pct. of Goals Returning
1. FGCU – 100.0 (27/27)
SIU Edwardsville – 100.0 (14/14)
3. Evansville – 97.1 (33/34)
4. Syracuse – 96.7 (29/30)
5. North Carolina – 89.5 (17/19)
6. Missouri State – 88.2 (15/17)
7. Virginia – 86.6 (39/45)
Buffalo – 86.6 (13/15)
9. NJIT – 84.0 (21/25)
Duke – 84.0 (21/25)
11. FIU – 81.5 (22/27)
12. UAB – 81.4 (35/43)
13. Cincinnati – 81.3 (13/16)
14. Connecticut – 80.6 (29/36)
15. South Carolina – 80.0 (20/25)
The match against Lipscomb will be the final road conference test of the year for the Eagles, who will then play their final road game at UCF on Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. FGCU is back in action at the FGCU Soccer Complex for the regular-season finale on Saturday, Nov. 8, against USC Upstate at 7 p.m. That contest will also serve as Senior Day for the program.
FGCU has the longest home regular-season conference unbeaten streak in the nation. FGCU has not lost a home regular-season A-Sun game since 2008, a stretch of 25 in a row in which the Eagles are unbeaten (22-0-3). Included in that run is a 19-game winning streak, which was snapped in the second-to-last match last year when the Green and Blue tied Mercer, 0-0. FGCU’s last home regular-season A-Sun loss came to Jacksonville, 2-0, on Oct. 19, 2008 – an incredible stretch of 2,202 days.
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.
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.