Men's Soccer Carries Five-Game Win Streak into Critical Showdown at Mercer
|Stats at a Glance||FGCU||MER|
|Shots (on Goal)||8 (5)||8 (4)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – With the Atlantic Sun regular season title and home field advantage in the postseason conference tournament on the line, the second place FGCU men’s soccer team will close out its regular season slate on Saturday night when it travels to first place Mercer. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m.
The Eagles (5-1-1/16pts) sit two points back of Mercer (6-1/18pts), needing a win (3pts) to claim the regular season crown, while the Bears only need a tie (1pt). The top two seeds get a bye into the A-Sun Tournament semifinals while the No. 1 seed plays host to all three rounds. Third place ETSU (5-2/15pts) is just one point back of the Green and Blue with a finale at USC Upstate (3-4/9pts) remaining.
The two teams have met before with major implications on the line, as FGCU defeated the Bears, 2-1, last year in the A-Sun Tournament semifinals. The Green and Blue have won four straight against Mercer and are 5-1 all-time against the Bears.
FGCU is vying to become just the second team in the A-Sun to win three straight regular season crowns since the league moved out of divisions in 1998. Oddly enough, Mercer was the last team to accomplish the feat from 2000-02.
The Eagles enter Saturday’s showdown with Mercer on a five-game win streak, the program’s longest streak since 2010 when it reeled off eight victories in a row. During the current win streak, FGCU has posted four shutouts en route to out-scoring its opponents, 9-2.
Seniors Jelani Smith (Mississauga, Canada/Rick Hansen Secondary) and Andres Navas (Miami, Fla./Sunset Senior HS/FIU) kept FGCU’s hopes for a third straight regular season crown alive on Wednesday night, scoring in the 39th and 72nd minute, respectively, during a 2-0 win over Stetson. The game-winner was Smith’s second of the year, while the shutout was the Green and Blue’s 20th in A-Sun action since joining the league in 2007.
Smith’s goal was his third of the year, tying him for second on the club with classmate Will Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS) and sophomore Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca/Delray). Freshman Felipe DeSousa (Vila Velha, Brazil/Wharton HS-FL) had his program-record three-game goal scoring streak snapped on Wednesday, but leads the club with six goals and 13 points.
It’s been a banner year for Mercer (11-5-1), who enters with wins in nine of its last 11 games. The Bears have been particularly impressive at home, going 6-0 with a 15-2 goal differential this season. Mercer leads the A-Sun and ranks in the top 40 in the nation in goals per game (1.76), goals against average (0.87) and shutouts (7). Like FGCU who has nine players with at least one goal and 15 with at least one point, Mercer sports a barrage of 12 players that have scored a goal and five that have double-digit points. Junior Ehjayson Henry leads the team in both goals (5) and points (14), and was named the A-Sun Co-Player of the Week on Monday.
The keeper matchup features a pair of sophomores who have logged every minute in frame this season. FGCU’s Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS) leads the A-Sun with four shutouts in conference play and is second with a 0.81 goals against average (GAA) in seven league contests. On the flipside, Mercer’s Greg Ranjitsingh is a three-time A-Sun Defensive Player of the Week and is tops overall in the conference with a 0.87 GAA and shutouts with seven.
Saturday night’s showdown at Mercer can be seen for free via A-Sun TV on www.FGCUATHLETICS.com, as can a link for live stats. Live updates can also be found on twitter @FGCU_MSoccer.
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