FORT MYERS, Fla. – Looking to defend its second consecutive Atlantic Sun regular season title as well as its first-ever A-Sun tournament championship and NCAA Tournament appearance, the FGCU men’s soccer program and head coach Bob Butehorn have announced the 2012 schedule. The 17-game slate will feature nine home contests and includes five matches against opponents that competed in the NCAA Tournament a season ago.
"We are very pleased with the overall quality of the opponents on our 2012 schedule,” commented Butehorn. “The combination of the different styles of play along with the outstanding pedigree of the opposing coaches will provide a fantastic opportunity for us this season."
Aside from the eight A-Sun contests, the Green and Blue will square off in nine non-conferences matches against teams from the MAC, BIG EAST, Patriot, Conference USA, MAAC, CAA and SoCon. Six of the opponents on the upcoming slate finished the 2011 season in the top 50 of the RPI, including three in the top 25.
The Eagles open the season with what is likely to be one of the toughest challenges on the schedule, as they travel to Akron, Ohio to face perennial power Akron on Friday, August 24 at 7 p.m. After winning the National Championship in 2010, the Zips wrapped up 2011 with a 15-4-4 overall record, including a perfect 6-0 MAC mark to finish first in the league. Akron advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament last season, falling 1-0 to eventual national championship runner-up Charlotte. Akron will return eight of 11 starters this fall and recently announced the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation last February.
Continuing the two-game road trip to begin the year, the Green and Blue head to Georgetown on Aug. 27 for a 4 p.m. kickoff. The Hoyas recorded a 10-5-4 overall mark, finishing sixth in the BIG EAST Blue Division at 5-3-1. Losing only three players to graduation, Georgetown is set to return 20 players, including its top five goal scorers off a squad that just missed an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament after ranking 50th in the RPI.
The 2012 home opener with put the Eagles up against visiting Bucknell at the FGCU Soccer Complex on Sunday, September 2 at 2 p.m. The Bison tallied a 7-9-2 overall record last year, and took seventh in the Patriot League with a 2-5 mark. Three members of the Bucknell squad garnered All-Patriot League honors, two of which are set to return in the upcoming season.
FGCU will then travel to Tampa, Fla. to take part in a pair of neutral site contests against South Carolina (Sept. 7) and Iona (Sept. 9) at the USF Tournament. Holding a 9-7-3 overall record, the Gamecocks finished second in Conference USA with a 6-1-1 mark and hosted an NCAA Tournament opening round contest, in which it fell to Wake Forest in penalty kicks. Also finishing second in its league, Iona wrapped up 2011 boasting a 15-4-1 overall mark and a 7-2 record in the MAAC. Advancing to the semifinals of the conference tournament, the Gaels dropped their double-overtime match with sixth-seeded Manhattan and failed to receive an at-large bid into the NCAA field. The contest with Iona will mark the second meeting between teams, as the Eagles fell to the Gaels, 2-0, at the FAU Tournament during the inaugural 2007 season.
The Green and Blue follow by hosting the five-team FGCU-Courtyard By Marriott Classic at the FGCU Soccer Complex from Sept. 14-16. Furman and FIU are set to open the event with a 5 p.m. start on Sept. 14, and the Eagles will follow with contest against VCU at 7:30 p.m. The Rams went 11-9 last year and finished seventh in the CAA with a 6-5 mark. FGCU competed with VCU once previously, defeating the Rams, 2-1, in double-overtime on a 60-yard free kick goal from former FGCU defender Matthew O’Shaughnessy in 2010. Closing out the tournament on Sept. 16, VCU will take on FAU at 12 p.m. and FGCU follows with Furman at 2:30 p.m. Falling to Charlotte, 3-1, in the opening round, the Paladins are the third team on the schedule that appeared in the NCAA Tournament last season. Finishing second in the SoCon with a 4-1-2 league mark and wrapping up the campaign with a 14-4-4 overall record, the 2012 contest will mark the third between the two schools as Furman holds a 1-0-1 edge over FGCU.
The final two non-conference games on the slate will put the Eagles up against a pair of foes which have developed into in-state rivals in very short period of time. The Green and Blue will welcome UCF to the FGCU Soccer Complex on Sept. 22 at 7 p.m., looking to avenge the NCAA Tournament loss from last season. FGCU defeated then-No. 8 UCF, 2-1, in Orlando, Fla. in 2011, but the Knights ended the Eagles’ season with a 1-0 double-overtime win in the NCAA opening round. UCF ended the season with a 12-6-3 (4-3-1 C-USA) record, falling in the NCAA second round to seventh-seeded USF, 2-1, in overtime. Ironically, the next match in 2012 for the Eagles will send them to Tampa to face the Bulls on Sept. 25, at 7 p.m. USF holds a slim 2-1 series edge over the Green and Blue, and has been nationally ranked in each of the three meetings. After finishing first in the BIG EAST Red Division with a 7-0-2 mark, USF (13-4-4) made a postseason run which ended in the NCAA quarterfinals with an overtime loss to Creighton.
Marking the 10th game of the season, FGCU heads into the conference slate where it will do battle with the newest A-Sun member Northern Kentucky on Oct. 4 at NKU Soccer Stadium in Highland Heights, Ky. at 7 p.m. The Norse join the A-Sun after previously competing in the Division II Great Lakes Valley Conference, where they posted a 14-5 overall record which included an 11-3 conference mark. NKU advance to the Division II NCAA Tournament with an at-large bid, eventually falling in the second round.
The Green and Blue stay on the road for a trip to Nashville, Tenn. to face Lipscomb on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. The Bisons (4-12-3) registered a 3-4-1 record in A-Sun action and earned a No. 5 seed in the league tournament, falling to fourth-seeded Mercer 2-1 in the first round. Last season, the Eagles defeated Lipscomb, 2-1, at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
FGCU returns to the FGCU Soccer Complex for a two-game weekend with USC Upstate on Oct. 12 (7 p.m.) and North Florida on Oct. 14 (2 p.m.). Both the Spartans and Ospreys failed to reach the A-Sun Tournament last year after posting records of 5-8-2 (2-4-2 A-Sun) and 1-15 (0-8 A-Sun), respectively. Last season, the Eagles took down Upstate, 1-0, in Spartanburg, S.C. and outlasted UNF, 4-1, in the A-Sun regular season finale.
The final league contests are arguably the toughest on the conference slate, as the four teams each competed in the A-Sun Tournament. The Green and Blue trek to Jacksonville, Fla. to face the Dolphins in a 7 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 18. Jacksonville wrapped up 2011 with a 9-8-2 overall record and finished with the third-best record in the league at 5-2-1. In the 2011 meeting at the FGCU Soccer Complex, the Eagles defeated the Dolphins, 2-1, on a goal in the 93rd minute of overtime.
ETSU and Stetson are set to make trips to the FGCU Soccer Complex on Oct. 26 and Oct. 31, respectively, both scheduled for 7 p.m. starts. In a rematch of the 2011 A-Sun Tournament championship game, the Bucs will head to Fort Myers coming of a season which saw them post a 10-7-4 overall record and earn the No. 6 seed in the league tournament with a 5-2-1 mark in A-Sun play. The Eagles’ lone blemish in the A-Sun regular season came at the hands of the Bucs, 2-1, in Johnson City, Tenn. In one of the bigger A-Sun rivalries, the Hatters come to the FGCU campus after earning the league’s No. 2 seed in the tournament with a 6-1-1 A-Sun mark. Owning a 10-5-4 overall record last year, the Hatters dropped the regular season meeting with the Green and Blue last season, 3-1, in DeLand, Fla. Competing at the A-Sun Tournament, Stetson fell to ETSU in penalty kicks to end its 2011 campaign.
In its final regular season match, FGCU will head to Macon, Ga. to face Mercer on Nov. 3 at 7 p.m. The Green and Blue faced the Bears twice last season, including the semifinal match of the A-Sun Tournament in which the Eagles won 2-1. In the regular season contest at the FGCU Soccer Complex, FGCU came away with a 2-1 overtime victory on a goal in the 94th minute of play. The Bears finished the season with a 9-8-3 overall mark and earned the league’s No. 4 seed with a 3-3-2 A-Sun record.
While the site is yet to be determined, the 2012 A-Sun Tournament will commence on Nov. 7-11.
After successfully defending its A-Sun regular season title with a 7-1 conference mark, the Green and Blue entered the A-Sun Tournament as the league’s No. 1 seed. Earning the pair of one-goal victories over Mercer and ETSU, the Green and Blue hoisted the A-Sun Tournament trophy and advanced to the NCAA Tournament in the program’s first year of postseason eligibility after completing the NCAA mandated reclassification period.
Under the direction of the two-time A-Sun Coach of the Year Bob Butehorn, the Eagles welcome back 16 players from last year’s championship team, including the A-Sun Freshman of the Year Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./North Broward Preparatory School) and the A-Sun Tournament MVP goalkeeper Nathan Ingham (Ontario, Canada/Keswick HS).
2012 FGCU Men’s Soccer Schedule
Aug. 24 – at Akron, 7 p.m.
Aug. 27 – at Georgetown, 4 p.m.
Sept. 2 – BUCKNELL, 2 p.m.
Sept. 7 – South Carolina#, 5 p.m.
Sept. 9 – Iona#, 12 p.m.
Sept. 14 – VCU^, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16 – FURMAN^, 2:30 p.m.
Sept. 22 – UCF, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 – at USF, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 – at Northern Kentucky*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 – at Lipscomb*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 12 – USC UPSTATE*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 14 – UNF*, 2 p.m.
Oct. 18 – at Jacksonville*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 26 – ETSU*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 31 – STETSON*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 3 – at Mercer*, 7 p.m.
Nov. 7-11 – Atlantic Sun Tournament
Dec. 7-9 – NCAA College Cup
* - Atlantic Sun Conference game
# - USF Tournament (Tampa, Fla.)
^ - FGCU-Courtyard By Marriott Classic (FGCU Soccer Complex)