FORT MYERS, Fla. – The three-time defending Atlantic Sun champion FGCU men’s soccer team and reigning NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year Bob Butehorn unveiled the program’s 16-game regular schedule for the 2013 season on Monday.
Highlighting the non-conference slate is a season-opening road showdown at USF on Friday, Aug. 30, a home game against Big Ten foe Wisconsin and a neutral site contest with Pac 12 member Washington in Seattle. Both USF and Washington earned at-large berths into the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The only current A-Sun program to win back-to-back A-Sun postseason crowns, the Eagles four-game home conference slate features a rematch of the 2012 A-Sun championship game against Mercer on Thursday, Oct. 17. Over its three-year run as regular season champs, FGCU is 22-2-1 in the A-Sun.
“We're very pleased with the caliber of our non-conference schedule,” said Butehorn, who has led FGCU to 58 wins in the program’s first six years. “Each opponent will present a formidable challenge to our young team and help us prepare for the A-Sun season.”
The season-opening meeting in Tampa between FGCU and USF isn’t the first between the two strong South Florida programs, as the Eagles snapped the Bulls’ 30-game home unbeaten streak (26-0-4) to start the 2010 campaign. USF was FGCU’s last opponent of the 2012 season, knocking the Green and Blue out of the NCAA Tournament with a 5-3 edge in penalty kicks after the two teams battled to a scoreless tie after 110 minutes.
FGCU will return to the pitch a week later for its home opener against FIU on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. The two teams took a one-year hiatus in 2012 after meeting in each of the first five years of FGCU’s program history. FIU holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with the last four meetings all being decided by one goal.
The streak of three straight games against fellow Florida programs to open the year will come to an end on Wednesday, Sept. 11 when the Eagles travel across the state to face FAU. Like its series with FIU, the Eagles squared off against the Owls in each of the program’s first five years.
Wisconsin will make its way to sunny SWFL on Saturday, Sept. 14 for a 7 p.m. night match at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Badgers are the second Big Ten program to visit FGCU in September, as the Eagles defeated then-No. 5 Ohio State, 1-0, in 2010. Wisconsin finished inside the final RPI top 100 in 2012.
FGCU will begin consecutive road weekends with a trip out west to take on Washington and Seattle University in a tournament hosted by the Redhawks. The Eagles begin the trip on Friday, Sept. 20, by taking on a Huskies squad that finished with a 13-5-3 overall record in 2012, advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and ended with a No. 24 ranking in the NSCAA poll. Washington and FGCU met out west in 2011 at the Nike Portland Invitational, battling to a 1-1 tie in which the Eagles entered with a No. 22 national ranking. FGCU will finish off the tournament by taking on host Seattle on Sunday, Sept. 22.
After the long trip out west, the Green and Blue will head north for their final two non-conference games against Ivy League opponents Penn and Princeton. The showdown with Penn on Friday, Sept. 27 will kick-off the trip before the Eagles heading to New Jersey to face Princeton on Sunday, Sept. 29. It will be FGCU’s first meeting with both programs.
A-Sun action will kick-off in Fort Myers when FGCU puts its 21-game home unbeaten streak in league play on the line against Lipscomb on Friday, Oct. 4. The Eagles defeated the Bison at home last year during the A-Sun Tournament. Northern Kentucky will make its first-ever trip to SWFL two days later on Oct. 6, while Mercer (Oct. 17) and Jacksonville (Nov. 2) will conclude the four-game home slate.
FGCU’s road matches in A-Sun play will take it to ETSU (Oct. 11), USC Upstate (Oct. 13), Stetson (Oct. 26) and UNF (Nov. 9) for the regular season finale.
Like last season, the A-Sun regular season champ and No. 1 seed will get host duties for the 2013 A-Sun Tournament. The six-team field will begin play on Wednesday, Nov. 13 with the quarterfinal matches followed by the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 15, and championship Sunday on Nov. 17.
FGCU will welcome back 15 players from last year’s club that finished with an 11-5-3 record, won its third straight A-Sun regular season crown (6-1-1) and advanced to its second consecutive NCAA Tournament via winning the A-Sun Tournament while ushering talented seven-member recruiting class. FGCU is one of just four teams in the nation to win its respective conference postseason tournament the last two years and one of 24 programs to make the NCAA Tournament in the 2011 and 2012.