Florida Gulf Coast
(8-6-2, 6-1-1 ASUN)
(6-6-3, 2-4-2 ASUN)
11/7/2013 | Jacksonville, Fla. | Attendance: 418
|Florida Gulf Coast||1||1||2|
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||UNF|
|Shots (on Goal)||12 (6)||10 (5)|
JACKSONVILLE – Needing either a win or a tie to clinch its record-setting fourth-straight Atlantic Sun Conference Regular-Season Championship, the FGCU men’s soccer team (7-6-2, 5-1-1 A-Sun) travels to face North Florida (6-5-3, 2-3-2 A-Sun) on Saturday night at 7 in the regular-season finale for both squads.
SETTING THE SCENE
FGCU has already won the right to host next week’s conference championship. The Eagles, who have wrapped up at least a share of the league title, have 16 points and are tied with ETSU and three points ahead of both Northern Kentucky and Lipscomb. The Green and Blue has defeated all three of those teams to earn the tiebreaker, while ETSU does not have another A-Sun match to play and NKU is ineligible for the postseason due to a Division-I reclassifying period.
CHASING A RECORD
With at least a tie (1 point) or a win (3 points), the Eagles will become the first team in the history of the A-Sun to win four consecutive regular-season titles. FGCU – which went through its own four-year D-I reclassification period from 2007-11 – has also won each of the past two postseason championships. In addition, by claiming the crown outright, FGCU will keep alive the opportunity to have its men’s and women’s soccer programs win the regular-season and postseason league championships for the third-straight year. Currently, FGCU is the only school in the nation that can boast that claim from each of the past two seasons.
The A-Sun Championship begins at the FGCU Soccer Complex on Wednesday with seeds 3-6 taking to the pitch. FGCU has locked up the No. 1 seed and will face a to-be-determined opponent on Friday at 7 p.m. ETSU, Lipscomb and UNF have clinched berths, while Stetson, Mercer and Jacksonsville are all tied at seven points and vying for the two final berths, while USC Upstate is only three points back.
Wednesday’s quarterfinal games and Friday’s semifinal games will be streamed for free on A-Sun TV, while Sunday’s 1 p.m. championship match will air live on ESPN3. More information will be available following Saturday’s games and at the beginning of next week.
PROTECT THE NEST
For the second consecutive year, FGCU will hold the A-Sun tournament on its home soil. An Eagles’ win against Jacksonville last Saturday clinched that, and FGCU will have a chance to continue its home invincibility against conference opponents in the upcoming playoffs. The Eagles have now gone unbeaten in 25 straight home matches against A-Sun members. That stretch spans more than five years, dating back to a 2-0 setback against Jacksonville on Oct. 19, 2008.
In six matches between FGCU and UNF, the Eagles have won all six, most in commanding fashion. Since 2007, the Green and Blue have outscored the Ospreys by an emphatic margin of 23-2. Last year, FGCU defeated North Florida at The Nest, 2-0.
SCOUTING NORTH FLORIDA
Riding a three-game unbeaten streak, its second longest of the season, UNF is a lock to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The Ospreys diverse attack has seen goals from 11 different players this season, and they have one of the more consistent offenses in the league. Receiving contributions up and down their roster, UNF is averaging 3.31 points per game and 1.31 goals per game. Both numbers are good enough for second in the conference, trailing only FGCU. Jean Rivaroli leads the Ospreys with four goals and two assists as his 10 points rank fifth in the conference. Alex Morrell, in three less games than leading scorer Rivaroli, has netted two goals and three assists.
FGCU has earned a 27-3-2 record in A-Sun games since the start of the 2010 season. All three of its conference losses have come on the road, and out of a possible 96 points that could have been earned in that time, the Eagles have claimed an impressive 83 of them (86.4 percent).
Going into their tilt against Jacksonville, FGCU faced the prospect of going winless in three consecutive conference matches, something the Eagles haven’t done since October of 2008. The Green and Blue responded by producing one of its most dominating victories of the season.
FGCU imposed their will on Jacksonville, outshooting the Dolphins 17-6 and receiving goals from Santiago Echeverri (Kissimmee, Fla./Celebration HS) and Aaron Guillen (El Paso, Texas/Coronado HS). The Eagles got back to their winning ways behind redshirt freshman Danny George’s (Safety Harbor, Fla./Countryside HS) sixth shutout of the season. The defending champions will look to parlay its dominating outing against Jacksonville into a strong effort at UNF.