FORT MYERS, Fla. – A year removed from the program’s first-ever Atlantic Sun Conference tournament championship and NCAA Tournament berth, the FGCU men’s soccer team was picked to finished second by the league head coaches in 2012 preseason poll that was unveiled on Thursday.
With three first-place votes, the Green and Blue were predicted to finish second in the standings behind 2011 A-Sun Tournament runner-up ETSU, which received the remaining six votes. Returning from the program’s most historic season to date, senior midfielder Deion Jones (Tampa, Fla./Freedom HS), sophomore forward Xavier Silva (Boca Raton, Fla./ North Broward Preparatory School) and sophomore defender Federico Crespo (Heredia, Costa Rica/St. Paul College/Universidad Latina) were each named to the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference team.
Earning a spot on the A-Sun All-Conference first team for the second straight season in 2011, Jones was also named to the All-Academic team. Jones started in 19 games at defense and recorded eight points on one goal and six assists, which ranked fourth in the A-Sun and second on the team. The Tampa, Fla. product netted one goal and added four assists in A-Sun play last season, while helping the Eagles’ backline post four shutouts, including one in A-Sun play, and contributing greatly to the 18-8 advantage in goals scored in league play.
In his first year on campus, Silva was named the top freshman in the league while picking up an All-Conference second team and All-Freshmen selection. Silva appeared in 15 contests, including seven starts, at forward and tied for the team lead with 15 points. The newcomer netted six goals while adding a trio of assists last season. With nine points on four goals and one assist in league play, the Boca Raton, Fla. product’s three game-winners all came in A-Sun contests and ranked second in the league. Silva continued his successful freshman campaign into the A-Sun Tournament, assisting on the opening goal and scoring the eventual game-winner in the Eagles’ semifinal contest against fourth-seeded Mercer en route to landing on the All-Tournament team.
Rounding out the trio of preseason accolades, Crespo joined Silva on the league’s All-Freshmen team last season. Crespo started all 20 games last year at defense and recorded his first collegiate point on an assist at ETSU (Oct. 16). The newcomer contributed to a backline effort which held three opponents scoreless, including one in A-Sun play. With his transition ability from the defense position, the Heredia, Costa Rica native significantly added to FGCU’s 18-8 goal differential against the A-Sun competition. Crespo also contributed greatly to the Eagles’ A-Sun Tournament success, providing the assist on the eventual game-winner by Silva in the contest with Mercer.
Finishing the season with a 12-6-2 overall record, the Eagles entered the 2011 A-Sun Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after posting a 7-1 mark in league action. Having already secured back-to-back regular season championships, the Green and Blue went on to claim their first-ever A-Sun Tournament title and NCAA Tournament berth in the program’s first season of eligibility.
Welcoming back 15 players from last year’s championship squad, the Eagles open the season with a trip to Akron, Ohio to face perennial power No. 10 Akron on August 24 at 7:30 p.m. The 2012 home opener with Bucknell is slated for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 2 at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
FGCU season tickets can be purchased in person at the Alico Arena ticket office or by phone at 239-590-7145. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. The FGCU ticket office is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. An adult ticket is $30, while a youth (3-12 years) ticket is $15. Single game tickets can also be bought at $6 for adults and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can get in for $3 a person. FGCU students and faculty/staff get in free with their student ID.
New to the 2012 season, FGCU Athletics is excited to offer the Half-Price Sunday Soccer Punch Pass for both adults and youths. This offer is available now through the ticket office and will be available through September 16. They will also be on sale at the ticket office on soccer gamedays.
Preseason Player of the Year: Jonathan Mendoza, Stetson
Preseason Defensive Player of the Year: Luis Ocejo, Stetson
Preseason Goalkeeper of the Year: Ryan Coulter, ETSU
Fan-Voted Preseason Player of the Year: Ryan Coulter, ETSU
Atlantic Sun Preseason All-Conference Team
GK - Ryan Coulter, ETSU, Jr.
D - Blaike Woodruff, ETSU, Jr.
D - Federico Crespo, FGCU, So.
D - Josh Shutter, Mercer, Sr.
D - John Kadane, USC Upstate, Sr.
D - Luis Ocejo, Stetson, Sr.
MF - Itode Fubara, ETSU, Jr.
MF - Deion Jones, FGCU, Sr.
MF - Jonathan Mendoza, Stetson, Sr.
F - David Geno, ETSU, Jr.
F - Xavier Silva, FGCU, So.
F - Kai Eckenrode, Stetson, Sr.
**- A tie in voting resulted in a 12-man all-conference team
Preseason Men’s Soccer Coaches Poll (First Place Votes)
1. ETSU (6) - 78
2. FGCU (3) - 75
3. Stetson - 61
4. Mercer - 53
5. Jacksonville - 36
Lipscomb - 36
7. USC Upstate - 28
8. North Florida - 19
Northern Kentucky - 19
Predicted 2012 Tournament Champions: ETSU (6 votes)
Fan-Predicted 2012 Regular-Season Champions: ETSU (63 votes)