Unbeatens Battle Friday As @FGCU_MSoccer Faces ETSU; Upstate Sunday
Thursday, October 10, 2013 | by Jason MacBain (@JaBain)
The FGCU men's soccer team heads into the weekend riding a four-game winning streak. (Photo: Linwood Ferguson)
The FGCU men's soccer team heads into the weekend riding a four-game winning streak. (Photo: Linwood Ferguson)
Florida Gulf Coast (5-5-1, 3-0-0)
East Tennessee State (4-4-3, 2-1-0)
10/11/2013 | Johnson City, Tenn. | Attendance: 473
1st2nd1OT Final
Florida Gulf Coast0112
East Tennessee State0101
ETSU62:05GENO, David (WILSON, Emmanuel )
FGCU83:38MADRID, Isaiah
FGCU93:45SILVA, Xavier
FGCUGEORGE, Danny93:4513
ETSUCOULTER, Ryan93:4523
Stats at a GlanceFGCUETSU
Shots (on Goal)10 (5)16 (5)
Corner Kicks44
Yellow Cards20

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. – After the opening weekend of Atlantic Sun Conference men’s soccer action, only two teams have a 2-0 mark in league play and both meet on Friday night as FGCU (4-5-1, 2-0 A-Sun) travels to ETSU (4-3-3, 2-0 A-Sun) to begin its weekend before making the journey to South Carolina to face USC Upstate (0-6-1, 0-1 A-Sun) on Sunday.

Kickoff Friday against the Buccaneers is set for 7 p.m., while Sunday’s matinee opposite the Spartans begins at 1. FGCU and ETSU both have six points and a three-point lead on a trio of teams, but still four matches remain after this weekend. Upstate is one of four teams yet to earn a point this year, with Jacksonville being one of those, but the Dolphins have not yet played a conference game.

The Eagles head into the weekend riding a four-game winning streak and have out-scored their opponents by a total of 6-2 in that time. After allowing 21 goals through the first seven games, the Green and Blue – which does not have a senior on its roster – has not allowed a goal in 300 minutes, dating back to Sept. 27 at the University of Pennsylvania.

Friday will mark the second straight year that FGCU heads into a match against ETSU riding (at the time) its longest winning streak of the season. Last year the Eagles had won three in a row entering their Oct. 26 meeting. With its current four-game streak, FGCU has now won at least three games in a row for five straight years.

With its back-to-back 1-0 wins over Lipscomb and NKU last Friday and Sunday, FGCU started conference play with consecutive shutouts for the first time in program history.

Friday night’s match will not only pit the top-two teams in the conference, but it will also match up the A-Sun’s current Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Week. FGCU redshirt junior Henry Penagos (Margate, Fla./American Heritage School of Boca) was tabbed as the POTW after scoring both of the Eagles’ goals last weekend. The forward will be trying to beat ETSU goalkeeper Ryan Coulter, who received the defensive recognition after posting consecutive shutouts last weekend. Coulter – the reigning A-Sun Goalkeeper of the Year – is just one shutout shy of equaling the A-Sun career record of 23. As for Penagos – who was also named the Sunshine Soccer News Player of the Week – his goal total now stands at four on the year, and his four points in league games is double more than anyone else.

FGCU now has each of the past two Player of the Week winners as Felipe DeSousa (Tampa, Fla./Wharton HS) earned the award on Sept. 30. The only other time FGCU has had consecutive A-Sun performers of the week was Oct. 25 and Nov. 1 during the 2010 season when Deion Jones and Scott Harrison were tabbed with the recognition.

FGCU leads the A-Sun in goals with 16 – three more than any other team … the Eagles are the only club in the league that has taken more than one penalty kick, and Penagos has finished both … FGCU’s 142 shots also leads the A-Sun … sophomore Danny George (Safety Harbor, Fla./Countryside HS), who did not appear in any games as a freshman, has earned three straight 1-0 shutouts, making six stops over that stretch … it is the first time in program history FGCU has won three straight games by the score of 1-0, and also just the second time ever it has played three consecutive 1-0 games (start of the 2009 season, going 1-2 in such games).

FGCU was the preseason favorite to win the league and has looked the part through the first two games with a pair of 1-0 shutouts last weekend over Lipscomb and Northern Kentucky. The Eagles have won each of the past two A-Sun Conference Championship titles, and in 2010 it claimed the regular-season crown but was not eligible for the postseason tournament due to a Division-I reclassification period. Coupled with the women’s soccer team, FGCU is the only school in the nation that has won its men’s and women’s soccer regular-season and postseason championship each of the past two years.

The Eagles will be trying to become the first team in conference history to claim four-straight outright regular-season titles. FGCU went 6-1-1 (19 points) in 2012, 7-1 (21 points) in 2011 and a perfect 9-0 (27 points) in 2010. Including the 2-0 start this year, the Green and Blue is 24-2-2 in the regular season since the start of the 2010 campaign. In that span, 81 possible points could have been earned, and FGCU has claimed a staggering 73 of them (90.1 percent).

The Bucs rely on a defensive game to win, backed by the aforementioned Coulter. ETSU has scored a league-low six goals, but on the flip side has limited opponents to just eight goals, the fewest in the conference. Coulter has already posted seven shutouts on the year – by far the most in the A-Sun and second to George’s three. The Eagles won last year’s meeting, 1-0, and own a 4-2 all-time edge. The last time FGCU traveled to ETSU it claimed a 1-0 win in the 2011 A-Sun Championship game with an 88th-minute goal. The Bucs enter Friday’s tilt riding a three-game unbeaten streak, going 2-0-1 in that time.

The Eagles have never lost to USC Upstate, owning a 5-0-1 all-time record, including a 1-0 triumph last year. That lone tie – ironically enough – represents the last time FGCU failed to win an A-Sun game at home: Nov. 2, 2008. Since then, the Eagles have played 19 regular-season A-Sun games at the FGCU Soccer Complex, and they have won all 19.

Upstate opened its league docket with a 3-1 setback at Mercer last Friday. Dave Musambi leads the A-Sun with 1.83 points per game, five goals and 0.83 goals per game, while ranking second with 11 points overall. He also ranks second in shots and shots per game. Upstate has scored all seven of its goals this season in the second half. The Spartans have been outscored 9-0 in the first half this year.

The Eagles will entertain Mercer at the FGCU Soccer Complex on Thursday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. FGCU then won’t return to action after that match until Saturday, Oct. 26, at Stetson.

2013-14 men’s soccer tickets are available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. Single-game tickets can be purchased for $6 per adult and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can receive a discounted rate of $3 per person. FGCU students and faculty/staff are admitted for free with a valid University ID.