PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The nation’s most prolific offense was once again on display in historical fashion Tuesday night as the #15 FGCU men’s soccer team (7-2-1) received a hat trick from Albert Ruiz not even 10 minutes into the game and earned its 7th-straight win – tied for the longest in the country – with a 6-5 victory over Rutgers (0-7-1).
Ruiz (Barcelona, Spain/ CE L’Hospitalet/UE Cornella) scored the first three goals of the night for FGCU, Arion Sobers-Assue (Miami, Fla./DeMatha Catholic HS) tallied the next two, but it ended up being Miguel Perez (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay HS) with the game-winner as the freshman scored his first collegiate goal in the 71st minute.
By scoring all three of his goals by the 9:02 mark, Ruiz is believed to have recorded the fastest hat trick – in terms of time from the start of the game – in NCAA Division-I history. The junior, who now has two hat tricks in the last 10 days, scored at the 5:42, 8:24 and 9:02 marks. The previous record is believed to have been held by Indiana’s Steve Burks, who tallied his three goals 11:41 into a contest with Indiana State on Oct. 6, 1973.
With 3:20 between the first and third goals, Ruiz is the 3rd-fastest player to score three-straight goals at any point of a game in NCAA history. He is bettered only by Illinois-Chicago’s John Stone, who did it in 2:15 (28:58-31:13) in 1985, and Saint Joseph’s Kyle Patterson in 2:31 (28:02-30:33) in 2007.
Entering the game as the nation’s leader in goals and points, FGCU continued its full-throttle offensive attack with reigning National Player of the Week Sobers-Assue giving the Eagles a 4-0 lead at the 9:21 mark.
Including Ruiz’s goals at the 8:24 and 9:02 marks, FGCU’s three-consecutive strikes in 57 seconds are the 2nd-fastest in NCAA history at any point of a game, behind only Syracuse’s 43-second span versus Fordham on Oct. 17, 1989.
The lead ballooned to 5-0 for FGCU at the 16:16 mark when Sobers-Assue tallied his second of the night and sixth goal in the last three games. The lead looked unsurmountable to overcome against an FGCU team which had only given up five goals in program history on two prior occasions, but Rutgers battled back, and behind a pair of Jason Wright goals before halftime trimmed the deficit to 5-2.
Niel Guzman made it 5-3 just 37 seconds into the 2nd half, and the Scarlet Knights – who had statistically played the 5th-hardest schedule in the country despite their winless record – made it a 5-4 contest in the 55th minute off a goal from Dante Perez.
What appeared to be an insurance strike, but stood up as the unlikely game-winner, came off the left foot of Perez with just less than 20 minutes remaining. He chested down a cross from Robert Ferrer (Barcelona, Spain/Brevard College/IES Calmot) at the top of the box, let the ball take one bounce and volleyed a shot into the upper-right corner to put the Green and Blue up, 6-4.
However, Rutgers – the third Big Ten team the Eagles have played this year – again had a response as Wright got his hat trick in the 78th minute.
But the Eagles were able to fend off the ensuing Scarlet Knights’ attacks despite a limited bench to extend their non-conference winning streak to six in a row.
“I’ve never been a part of a game like that in my life,” stated FGCU program-founding head coach Bob Butehorn, who has more than 25 years of experience as a collegiate assistant and head coach. “We gave up some pretty soft goals late in the 1st half to let them get back into it, but we also probably should have scored at least a few more ourselves. We were pretty shocked and we started to run out of healthy and eligible guys to use near the conclusion of the game, but in the end it was a win and a good result for us.”
The seven-game winning streak overall for FGCU is tied with Loyola Chicago and Butler for the longest in the nation. The program record is eight-straight wins, set in 2010 and again in 2012. Additionally, the Green and Blue have posted at least four goals in four-straight games for the first time in program history.
The six goals are tied for the most by a team this year against another D-I opponent. They are also the most against a non-conference opponent in program history, and just one shy of the all-time mark of seven set against North Florida in a 7-0 triumph on Oct. 17, 2008. The Eagles also scored six goals opposite UNF on Oct. 31, 2010 – the only other time an FGCU team has tallied six goals in a game.
FGCU finished with 18 points, tied for the most in single-game program history with the aforementioned contests against the Ospreys.
On the flip side, it marks just the third time in program history FGCU has surrendered five goals in 170 all-time matches. It’s the first time in program history that the Green and Blue have given up a quintet of goals and won.
Making the offensive performance against Rutgers even more impressive is that it came against the active D-I career leader in saves in goalkeeper David Greczek (311). He was coming off a season-high nine-save performance against #4 Indiana on Friday as the Scarlet Knights tied the Hoosiers, 0-0.
Ruiz is the first player in program history with two hat tricks, and as mentioned previously it took just 10 days between them. The forward – who is now tied for the national lead with 11 goals and is 2nd in the country with 25 points – tallied three goals against nationally-ranked UNCW on Sept. 17. He has already set single-season program records for goals (four more than the previous mark) and points (eight more than the previous mark).
The first men’s soccer season at FGCU was 2007, and it took until Oct. 31, 2010, for a Green and Blue member to record a hat trick when Scott Harrison finally did it versus North Florida. Nearly six years went by before another occurred, and that happened with Ruiz against UNCW. It then took just three more days for the third hat trick in program history to occur as Sobers-Assue netted three opposite FAU on Tuesday, Sept. 20.
Without Ruiz’s historical season, Sobers-Assue would have already set the FGCU single-season records for goals and points as he now ranks 2nd in the ASUN in goals with eight and points with 18. Additionally, Ferrer leads the league in assists with four.
FGCU will look to keep its historical offense firing after a week off before returning to action at cross-state foe FIU on Tuesday, Oct. 4, at 7 p.m. The Panthers are 3-4-1 on the year following a tough 2-1 overtime loss to #5 Charlotte on Saturday. FIU travels to New Mexico to face the #21 Lobos on Friday night.
Single-game tickets are available for all remaining home games. More information, including special discounts and group rates, can be accessed by visiting FGCUTickets.com. To purchase tickets, or for additional inquiries, call the FGCU Ticket Office at 239-590-7145 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. or log on to FGCUTickets.com.
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.
FGCU is led by Bob Butehorn, who has coached six professional players and 54 ASUN All-Conference selections since FGCU started its program in 2007. In just five years of postseason eligibility, Butehorn has guided FGCU to three ASUN Tournament championships and NCAA Tournament appearances – in 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and has won an unprecedented six-straight ASUN regular-season championships. His teams have been ranked nationally on several occasions by multiple media outlets. Now in his 14th season as a head coach, Butehorn has a 122-92-26 (.563) overall record, 88-60-22 (.582) mark in his 10th season at FGCU and 49-17-6 (.722) record in ASUN contests.
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.