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FGCU Set to Defend A-Sun Tournament Title on Home Turf
|FGCU||102:55||DeSOUSA, Felipe (ECHEVERRI, Santiago )|
|Stats at a Glance||LIP||FGCU|
|Shots (on Goal)||8 (3)||11 (5)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The three-time defending Atlantic Sun Conference regular season champion and top-seeded FGCU men’s soccer team will begin the defense of its 2011 A-Sun Tournament crown on Friday night when it takes on fifth-seeded Lipscomb in the semifinals at 7 p.m. at the friendly confines of the FGCU Soccer Complex.
The Eagles earned host duties of the entire 2012 Atlantic Sun Championships last Saturday when it defeated then-first place Mercer, 1-0, to win its third consecutive regular season title. FGCU was able to bring the conference postseason tournament to Fort Myers by winning its final six games, posting five shutouts.
FGCU’s 7 p.m. semifinal showdown against the Bisons will be the second game of the day, as second-seeded Mercer and third-seeded ETSU will square off for the right to play in Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship game. The Eagles won last year’s A-Sun Tournament in Johnson City, Tenn. with a 1-0 triumph over host ETSU on a goal in the 89th minute that sent the Green and Blue to their first NCAA Tournament in their first year of eligibility.
Currently sporting a 9-5-2 record, including a 6-1-1 mark in the A-Sun, FGCU’s home field has yielded a 17-game home win streak against A-Sun foes since the end of the 2008 season. This year’s title has come on the heels of graduating a nine-member senior class in 2011 that featured five A-Sun All-Conference honorees, including a Defensive Player of the Year and a MAC Hermann Award finalist.
FGCU (9-5-2, 6-1-1 A-Sun) is just the second team to win three straight A-Sun regular season crowns since the league moved out of divisions in 1998. Mercer was the last team to accomplish the feat from 2000-02. Over the Green and Blue’s current three-year run, they are 22-2-1 in the A-Sun.
Named the Atlantic Sun Freshman of the Year on Tuesday, Felipe DeSousa (Vila Velha, Brazil/Wharton HS-FL) leads the team in scoring with 13 points on a team-high six goals. DeSousa is tied for the league lead with four game-winning goals, three of which came in A-Sun regular season play in consecutive games. Besides being named to the All-Conference first team, DeSousa was a member of the A-Sun All-Freshmen squad that also consisted of classmates Aaron Guillen (Chihuahua, Mexico/Coronado HS-Texas), Rodrigo Saravia (Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) and Daniel Stanese (Pitt Meadows, British Columbia/Pitt Meadows Secondary). The four honorees on the All-Freshmen team equaled the most in conference history.
Guillen and Stanese make up two-fifths of the youthful FGCU defense that has posted five shutouts in its last six games, and a league-best seven this season. Sophomore left back Federico Crespo (Heredia, Costa Rico/St. Paul College/Universidad Latina) was named to the A-Sun All-Conference second team and has logged every minute on the field this season. Like Crespo, sophomore Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS) has played every minute, owning a 1.13 goals against average (GAA) and is the reigning A-Sun Defensive Player of the Week after his two shutouts against Stetson and at Mercer.
Although the youth of FGCU’s lineup stands out, the 14 underclassmen have learned well from the guidance of the squad’s five-member senior class that has been a part of four straight winning seasons. Seniors Deion Jones (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS), Will Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS), Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS/FIU), Jelani Smith (Mississauga, Ontario/Rick Hansen Secondary) and Jeremy Vollmer (Carmel, Ind./Westfield HS) have a combined 22 points on the year.
Fifth-seeded Lipscomb advanced to face the Eagles with a 1-0 opening round win over fourth-seeded USC Upstate on Wednesday. The Bisons got the best of FGCU in the regular season showdown in Nashville, handing the Green and Blue their only loss, 3-1, in A-Sun action on Oct. 6. The A-Sun postseason appearance is the sixth straight for Lipscomb, as it will look to advance to the title game for the first time in program history.
Lipscomb’s win in the regular season snapped a four-game win streak for the Eagles over the Bisons. FGCU owns a 4-2 edge in the all-time series with all four of its wins coming by a 2-1 score. The last time the two teams met in Fort Myers in 2011, Navas scored the game-winner in the 68th minute.
A-Sun TV will be offered for free throughout the Atlantic Sun Championship with Brice Zimmerman calling all the action. Follow all the action on twitter @FGCU_MSoccer and by using the hashtag #ASUNMSOC.