Buccaneers one game from winning back-to-back A-Sun Championships
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 12, 2011) – The Atlantic Sun Tournament Championship final is set, as the sixth-seeded ETSU men’s soccer team battles the top-seeded Florida Gulf Coast Eagles on Sunday, Nov. 13, inside Summers-Taylor Stadium at 1 p.m.
ETSU (10-6-4, 3-4-1 A-Sun) enters the A-Sun final as the first sixth-seeded squad to accomplish the feat. A Buccaneer victory would make ETSU the A-Sun’s first back-to-back champion since Central Florida won three-straight titles from 2002-04. Along with UCF, only five other schools have won consecutive tournament titles in the Championship’s 33-year history.
FGCU (11-5-2, 7-1-0 A-Sun) will look to put a stop to that with hopes of its first A-Sun Tournament title in just its first year of postseason eligibility. The Eagles landed in the A-Sun in 2007 from Division II and had to wait until the 2011 season to become eligible for postseason play.
The two sides took very different roads to the final, as the Bucs had to scrape out a 2-1 victory over USC Upstate in their final game of the conference season to sneak in as the final seed. Against third-seeded Jacksonville in the quarterfinals, redshirt junior David Haba (Germantown, Tenn.) scored his first two goals of the season to breeze ETSU by the Dolphins 2-0. In a semifinal that may go down as the greatest tournament game in A-Sun history, the Bucs rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie Stetson 3-3 and advance with an epic 5-4 win in the penalty shootout.
With the season on the line, redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Coulter (Dublin, Ireland) denied Gonzalo de Mujica on a shot which would have sent Stetson to the final. In the eighth round of penalties, the Bucs prevailed when redshirt sophomore Jonny Campbell (Johnson City, Tenn.) converted on his chance and Coulter saved the try by Ryan Asare-Bediako.
Meanwhile, FGCU coasted through the majority of A-Sun play and earned the conference tournament’s No. 1 seed with a 7-1-0 mark. Against Mercer in the semifinals, FGCU took a 1-0 lead to halftime before tacking on some insurance in the second half. Mercer struck for goal in the 65th minute but never equalized, advancing FGCU to its first final.
Fittingly, the Eagles only loss in conference play this season came Oct. 16 at Summers-Taylor Stadium, as the Bucs erased a 1-0 halftime deficit to win 2-1. Redshirt freshman Nick Dykes (Nashville, Tenn.) scored the first goal of his collegiate career to equalize in the 53rd minute, before First Team All-Conference selection David Geno (Kingsport, Tenn.) sent the Bucs ahead for good less than five minutes later.
Sunday’s meeting will be the fifth all-time between ETSU and FGCU, with the series currently even at 2-2-0. Both wins for each side have come at their home stadium, and, while the final will technically be played at a neutral site, the Bucs and Eagles will decide everything inside the brick walls of Summers-Taylor Stadium.
Live stats and free live video will be provided for the game, with live stats available on ETSUBucs.com and live video on ASun.TV.
Fans in attendance for Sunday’s A-Sun Championship final will be treated to free pizza courtesy of Papa John’s. Pizza will be available starting 45 minutes prior to the start of the game.
For more information on ETSU men’s soccer, please visit ETSUBucs.com and click on the men’s soccer links.