FORT MYERS, Fla. – No. 2 FGCU defeated Jacksonville 3-2 in an instant classic to win the 2016 ASUN Championship Final and earn the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Eli Roubos scored two goals off set pieces, including the game-winner in the 82nd minute. FGCU claims its fourth ASUN Championship in program history.
The first half was a back and forth affair as both teams went on the offensive looking to strike early. After the Dolphins had the opening shot inside the first two minutes, FGCU began to use its possession to push Jacksonville back into the defensive half. FGCU's pressure paid off in the 15th minute when the nation's leading goal scorer gave the Eagles the lead. Arion Sobers-Assue was found eight yards out and rifled a volley towards the Dolphin net only for Patrick Harding to tip it onto the cross bar, but the rebound fell right to Albert Ruiz who volleyed home his 20th goal of the season.
The Dolphins maintained their composure though and were level 10 minutes later. Off a throw-in, Kai Bennett sent a long ball down the right side, where Diego Sanchez got behind the Eagle defense. He took two touches towards goal and slid his shot calmly past FGCU's Jared Brown for the equalizer. Over the next eight minutes, Harding made back-to-back great saves to tie the ASUN Championship record, but had no answer in the 34th minute when Eli Roubos headed in his second of the year to give FGCU a 2-1 halftime lead.
The second half was evenly played as Jacksonville looked to tie the match, but found it difficult to break the FGCU defense. With running out, the Dolphins found an equalizer from an unlikely source. Eji Mrabure scored his first goal of the season as he was sprung open by Diego Sanchez in the 79th minute and slid the ball through Brown's legs to tie the match at 2-2.
The lead only lasted three minutes though as the Eagles scored the game-winner in the 82nd minute. In a repeat of FGCU's second goal, Roubos found himself open off a corner kick and redirected a Marriott header into the bottom left corner to set off wild celebrations at the FGCU Soccer Complex. Jacksonville had one more chance two minutes later, but Joe Amico's header was cleared off the line and Bennett's follow up was over the bar. The Eagles did not allow another chance in the final minutes and secured their fourth ASUN Championship.
The NCAA Selection Show will be live on NCAA.com on Monday, November 14th starting at 1 PM. 48 teams will be competing in the 2016 College Cup. FGCU is one of 24 teams to earn an automatic berth, while the selection committee will make 24 at-large selections. The last time the ASUN had two teams in the NCAA Tournament was 1997.
ASUN Men's Soccer All-Tournament Team
- Albert Ruiz, FGCU - MVP
- Eli Roubos, FGCU
- Miguel Jaime, FGCU
- Kamar Marriott, FGCU
- Patrick Harding, Jacksonville
- Kai Bennett, Jacksonville
- Allan Morgan, Jacksonville
- Joe Kerridge, Lipscomb
- Logan Paynter, Lipscomb
- Sylvester Szczesniewicz, North Florida
- Jay Bolt, North Florida
No. 2 FGCU vs. No. 5 Jacksonville Championship Final Notes
- FGCU's Albert Ruiz became the first ASUN player since 2005 to score 20 goals in a season. He is only the 15th player in ASUN history to reach the milestone.
- The Eagles claim their fourth ASUN Championship title in six years of postseason eligibility. FGCU's previous three titles all came by the score of 1-0.
- Eli Roubos had only scored one goal all season, before scoring two goals tonight including the game-winning goal in the 82nd minute.
- Kamar Marriott recorded his first two assists of the season in tonight's victory. He has played the most minutes of any Eagle field player this season.
- Jacksonville's Patrick Harding set the ASUN Championship record for most saves in a single tournament with 20. He had five saves tonight, after posting eight and seven in the previous matches.