Tonight the FGCU Eagles get to go home to their own beds, wake up to familiar surroundings, go through their normal routine and defend their A-Sun Championship on Sunday in front of a home crowd that hasn’t seen them lose in Ft. Myers since the end of the 2008 season.
The host Eagles earned host duties of the entire 2012 Atlantic Sun Championships last Saturday when it defeated then-first place Mercer, 1-0, to win its third consecutive regularseason title. FGCU was able to bring the conference postseason tournament to Fort Myers by winning its final six games, including five shutouts.
The Eagles are now 10-5-2, including a 7-1-1 mark in the A-Sun. What is even more impressive is that the FGCU Soccer complex is home to a 17-game home win streak against A-Sun opponents that spans back to the end of the 2008 season. That streak also includes 13 shutouts in the Eagles’ home nest.
FGCU is just the second team to win three straight A-Sun regular season crowns since the league moved out of divisions in 1998. Mercer was the last team to accomplish the feat from 2000-02. Over the Green and Blue’s current three-year run, they are 22-2-1 in the A-Sun.
So as the Eagles prepare to defend last year’s title, where are they as a team?
“We still have some immaturity to us,” said FGCU Head Coach Bob Butehorn. “They were the more aggressive, more attacking group. For some reason we had a very passive attitude, and that is certainly something that we need to correct before Sunday.
“Some of that was to due to their competitive spirit. I want to say how amazed I was to watch Lipscomb compete the way they did (down a man in second half). They deserve a better result because we did not play well,They battled hard, and it was a really good game for those guys.”
In the second overtime, with the crowd behind them, Butehorn says that he, the crowd and Lipscomb could sense that the Eagles were getting something going.
“You could sense in the second overtime that we were putting some things together, and it seemed like they were feeling that as well. We are happy to be in the finals and looking forward to facing a good Mercer team.”
The Eagles will face the Bears for the second time in two weeks, in another game that will feature a game of contrasting styles. FGCU likes possession and ball movement, Mercer is a stronger defensive team that doesn’t allow for many scoring opportunities.
“They are a good team, a disciplined team, and their tactics work very well for them. They have some very talented players, including the Defensive Player of the Year. It will be a good game that will be contrasting in styles,” says Butehorn.
In a game that could come down to one or more plays that turn momentum, it certainly be to the Eagles’ advantage that Ol’ MO will come to the FGCU Soccer Complex wearing green and blue. Whether or not he stays true to those colors will be up to the “Dirty Birds” and the rest of the FGCU home crowd.
“It should be exciting on Sunday to play for the championship at home,” says Butehorn. “It was nice to hear them cheer tonight, especially after the winning goal.
There is no question that we feed off the fans. So Sunday afternoon we are hoping for a good group, and hoping to have the support that we expected when we earned the right to host the championship.”