FORT MYERS, Fla. – In front of the third-largest crowd in program history, the FGCU men’s soccer team (0-0-1) battled the third-ranked team in the nation to a scoreless draw Friday evening as the Eagles and Georgetown Hoyas kicked off the 2015 season under the lights of the FGCU Soccer Complex.
In what was an evenly-played game throughout, each team finished the contest with 10 shots. Three of those Georgetown shots found their way on net, but FGCU keeper Nathan Ingham (Keswick, Ontario/Keswick HS) was equal to the task each time as the redshirt senior earned yet another clean sheet, setting the program record with his 20th career shutout.
Playing the highest-ranked opponent the Eagles have ever faced at home, 1,509 spectators – including several hundred rowdy Dirty Birds – filled The Nest, helping FGCU to its best result against a top-three team in program history.
“It was a good game; it lived up to its billing,” stated FGCU head coach Bob Butehorn, whose team entered the contest ranked 29th in the country byTop Drawer Soccer, one of just four teams in the country receiving votes in its national poll. “The game was fast and there was a lot of fun action to watch. Both teams had some good chances. I would have liked to get a goal, but I’ll take the result.”
The result against Georgetown is impressive in itself for FGCU; however, when considering the Hoyas defeated No. 15 Syracuse, 3-0, and No. 2 and reigning national champion Virginia, 4-0, earlier this month in their exhibition schedule it proves the Eagles can play the nation’s elite.
In a battle of two top-15 national defenses from a season ago, offense was expected to be at a premium, and each team’s respective backline and goalkeeper ensured that would be the case. Making his collegiate debut, Georgetown’s JT Marcinkowski made two stops; meanwhile, Ingham thwarted efforts from Big East Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Brandon Allen and Alex Muyl.
Ingham’s first stop of the evening – which started roughly 40 minutes late due to thunderstorms and lightning in the area – came on a blistering left-footed shot by Allen from straight on just beyond the top of the 18. His second deflection of the night came shortly thereafter in the 34th minute when Muyl got loose at a tight angle following a corner, but Ingham’s diving effort kept the Hoyas off the board.
A scramble in front of the net following another Georgetown corner – the Hoyas would finish with 10 on the night – early in the second half presented the preseason Big East favorites with arguably their best chance of the game, but Muyl’s point-blank effort was knocked down again by Ingham in the 55th minute.
That attempt capped a furious start to the second stanza by the Hoyas, as after FGCU held a 5-4 shot advantage at the break they rattled off the first five shots of the second half in the opening 10 minutes.
However, FGCU counter-punched Georgetown’s efforts with its own just a few minutes later as Aaron Guillen (El Paso, Texas/Coronado HS) had a header on target blocked by the Hoyas’ backline and deflected right to Nicolas Samayoa(Guatemala City, Guatemala/College Internacional Montessori) whose header effort was also blocked out for a corner. That corner by Skyler Wilks (Tampa, Fla./Newsome HS) was placed perfectly onto the head of a leaping 6-4 Kamar Marriott(Tampa, Fla./Heritage HS), but his effort went over the bar.
From there, each side had a few opportunities to find the back of the night, but nothing to the extent of the opening 20 minutes of the second half. Making his FGCU debut, sophomore transfer Rielee Mohsin (Stuart, Fla./Nichols College/Martin County HS) attempted the lone shot in either overtime session.
Another FGCU player making his debut in the Green and Blue was highly-touted Dennis Zapata (Orlando, Fla./University HS), and the freshman did not disappoint. He attempted the first three shots of the game – each coming after he creatively and deceptively got free with the ball at his feet. Zapata led the way for the Eagles with those three shots, while Marriott added two and Wilks, Guillen, Mohsin, Samayoa and Luis Vega (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Montverde Academy) each had one.
FGCU will remain at home and welcome in-state foe UCF to The Nest on Wednesday, Sept. 2, for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The game will be a WHITEOUT, with all fans encouraged to wear white. The Knights – who have made seven NCAA Tournament appearances – opened their season with a 5-0 win over FAU at home on Friday evening.
GAME NOTES: FGCU is now 4-3-2 all-time in season openers … it is the first 0-0 tie to open a season in program history … the only higher crowds in FGCU Soccer Complex history came last season against Akron (Sept. 6) with 1,574 fans and versus USF (Oct. 4) in 2011 with 1,556 spectators … that attendance number came as the Eagles played No. 5 Ohio State – the highest-ranked opponent to visit SWFL until Georgetown Friday night.