FGCU Begins Defense of Back-to-Back A-Sun Titles with Two-Game Road Swing
Thursday, October 04, 2012 | by Patrick Pierson (@Pierson_SID)
FGCU is 3-1-1 all-time in Atlantic Sun openers. (Photo by J. Meric)
FGCU is 3-1-1 all-time in Atlantic Sun openers. (Photo by J. Meric)
FGCU (3-4-2, 0-0-1 A-Sun)
Northern Kentucky (2-7-1, 0-0-1 A-Sun)
10/4/2012 | Highland Heights, Ky | Attendance: 730
1st2nd1OT 2OT Final
Northern Kentucky01001
FGCU31:58PENAGOS, Henry (ECHEVERRI, Santiago )
NKU75:21WALKER, Kevin (BARTLETT, Michael , LAIRD, Danny)
FGCUINGHAM, Nathan110:0014
NKUFLEAK, A.J.110:0013
Stats at a GlanceFGCUNKU
Shots (on Goal)9 (4)16 (5)
Corner Kicks42
Yellow Cards04
Red Cards10

FORT MYERS, Fla. – After a challenging eight-game non-conference slate that featured seven teams in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s Tournament 48 projections at the time of the match, the FGCU men’s soccer team begins the defense of its back-to-back Atlantic Sun titles when it opens conference play at league-newcomer Northern Kentucky on Thursday at 7 p.m.

The Eagles (3-4-1), who are a combined 16-1 in the A-Sun over the last two years, will close out their opening two-game league road swing on Saturday when they travel to Lipscomb for an 8 p.m. ET showdown. Thursday, which will be the first-ever home Division I game for the Norse, will mark the fifth straight season that FGCU has opened A-Sun play on the road.

FGCU is eight days removed from its last game and currently sits at No. 40 in the latest TopDrawerSoccer.com Tournament 48 projections as the A-Sun’s representative on the poll. The Eagles are 3-1-1 in A-Sun openers since joining the league in 2007 and are 3-2 in conference road openers.

Not far removed from being in Northern Kentucky’s position as a new member of Division I and the A-Sun, FGCU will play the 100th game in program history on Thursday night. Since joining the Division I ranks and the A-Sun in 2007, the Eagles are 50-40-9, including 28-14 in conference, with two A-Sun regular season titles (2010, 11) and one NCAA Tournament berth (2011) after winning the conference tournament in its first year of postseason eligibility.

After opening the season 0-2 on a road trip to No. 2 Akron and No. 16 Georgetown, FGCU rattled off three straight wins against conference favorites Bucknell (Patriot League), Iona (MAAC) and South Carolina (C-USA). The green and blue have since gone 0-1-2, tying UCF, while falling to VCU and at No. 13 USF. FGCU’s eight non-conference opponents currently have a 39-22-14 combined record without including nationally-ranked Furman’s 8-1-2 mark due to its showdown with FGCU on Sept. 16, being cancelled because of weather.

Balance has been the theme for the FGCU offensive attack that has seen seven different players score a goal, while 12 players have registered at least one point. Senior Will Morse (Sugar Land, Texas/Clements HS) and freshman Felipe DeSousa (Vila Velha, Brazil/Wharton HS-FL) are the only two Eagles with multiple goals with three and two scores, respectively. FGCU is 3-0 when Morse scores, as the senior was named the A-Sun Player of the Week and to College Soccer News’ National Team of the Week back on Sept. 10. DeSousa, who missed the team’s last game at No. 13 USF due to being issued a pair of yellow cards against UCF, has at least one point in three of his last four contests.

Northern Kentucky enters the tilt with a 2-7 record having played its first nine Division I games away from NKU Soccer Stadium – one of the best soccer facilities in all of Division I. The Norse dropped their first six games of the season, but responded with road wins at former A-Sun member Belmont and Western Illinois. Out of NKU’s seven losses, six have been by one goal, including at Pitt and at Bradley.

FGCU carries a 4-1 all-time record against Lipscomb, including a 2-0 mark in Nashville, and has taken four straight in the series. The Bisons are 3-7 on the year and will also open their conference slate at home on Thursday against Mercer. Lipscomb faced a non-conference schedule that featured No. 24 UAB and Bradley. Senior Ethan Summers leads the team with eight points and has scored three goals on just five shots this season.

Live stats and live video through A-Sun TV are available at www.FGCUATHLETICS.com. A-Sun TV is free for all users in 2012-13, announced by the league office in August. Along with updates on the team’s official twitter page (@FGCUMensSoccer), fans can also get updates from around the Atlantic Sun and the nation by using the hashtag #ASUNMSOC or #D1MSOC.