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No. 23 FGCU Clinches Outright A-Sun Title
Eagles move to 8-0 in the A-Sun with 4-0 win over Jacksonville
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The No. 23 FGCU men’s soccer team tallied a goal just 14 minutes into its Friday night contest against Jacksonville and never looked back en route to a convincing 4-0 shutout to clinch the outright Atlantic Sun regular season title.
The Eagles entered the night in need of just one point in order to capture the outright title after clinching a share of the crown with last Friday’s 1-0 double-overtime win over Stetson. ETSU’s (7-2) 21 points were tied with FGCU at the beginning of the night, but the Buccaneers have no A-Sun games remaining.
FGCU now stands at 12-3-2 overall and 8-0 in the A-Sun as it will attempt to become just the ninth team in conference history to finish the regular season unbeaten when it hosts UNF on Sunday for Senior Day. Just two teams have gone unbeaten since the A-Sun moved out of divisions following the 1998 season.
“I’m proud of the way we responded after earning at least a share of the A-Sun title last Friday. To come back and defeat a team which we have never been able beat shows a lot about our character,” said reigning A-Sun Coach of the Year Bob Butehorn. “The team really showed their maturity tonight and it was exciting to see them control the pace of the game to come away with the four-goal win. I’m looking forward to Sunday, but it will be a very emotional day as I watch a few of the guys who got us to where the program is today, play their final game.”
The win is also the first for FGCU over Jacksonville, who drops to 8-8-1 on the season and 3-5 in the conference.
Four different players notched a goal in the game for the Blue and Green, led by junior Josey Portillo’s (Metairie, La./Grace King HS) three-point night that featured his fourth goal of the season and an assist. Ryan Price (Melbourne Beach, Fla./Melbourne HS) tallied the fifth goal of his freshman campaign, while sophomore Westin Vallentine (Spring, Texas/Klein Collins HS) scored the third goal of the game followed by sophomore Deion Jones’ (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS) team-leading seventh goal to cap the scoring.
Despite Jacksonville getting off 10 shots, the FGCU defense limited the Dolphins to just two shots on goal. When called upon, redshirt junior keeper Adam Glick (Leola, Pa./Conestoga Valley HS) was up to the task, making a pair of diving saves in the 71st and 90th minute, respectively, to preserve the shutout. FGCU has shutout six of its eight A-Sun opponents on the year, outscoring them 20-2 along the way.
FGCU took an early lead in the 14th minute when Portillo broke through the Jacksonville defense for a great individual goal. Portillo carried the ball all the way through the goal box, splitting a pair of defenders to beat the goalie with a shot into the right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Eagle lead nearly increased on a pair of occasions when Jones put two free kick opportunities on net, but was turned away by JU keeper Zach Greenwald.
JU supplied some pressure towards the end of the half, but was unable to put any of its four shots on net as FGCU held on to its 1-0 lead at the break.
FGCU broke the game open over the final 45 minutes with a trio of goals. The first came off the head off Price when freshman Juan Castellon (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./Royal Palm Beach HS) found his classmate in front of the net for the header-goal. Price was able to get in front of a JU defender and flick the ball into the right side of the net for the insurance goal.
Seeing action for the first time in A-Sun play this season, Vallentine put home a rebound off a shot from Portillo at the 81:02 mark to make in 3-0 and just six minutes later Jones followed up with his team-best seventh goal. The team’s free kick specialist, Jones set up over the ball after a JU foul and blasted a shot from 35 yards out that deflected off a Dolphin defender and into the back of the net. The reigning A-Sun Player of the Week, Jones has scored in three straight games.
FGCU closes the book on the 2010 campaign on Sunday at 2 p.m. against UNF. The Eagles will honor Caleib Lynch (Merritt Island, Fla./Merritt Island HS), Arjun Jani (Sarasota, Fla./Riverview HS), Matthew O’Shaughnessy (Trinity, Fla./Mitchell HS) and Matthew Smith (Cape Canaveral, Fla./Merritt Island HS/Coastal Carolina) prior to the start of the game. The quartet will play their final game in an FGCU uniform.
Despite winning the A-Sun regular season, FGCU cannot compete in the conference postseason tournament due to the NCAA reclassifying period. FGCU will be eligible for postseason play in 2011.