Atlantic Sun Summer Sessions: Men's Soccer; #ASunMSoc

Friday, June 21, 2013

MACON, Ga. - Three teams separated themselves from the field during the 2012 Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer season, while new challengers made charges towards the end of the year. FGCU, Mercer and ETSU all finished with double-digit wins in 2012 and earned the top-three seeds in the conference championship.

It took the last game of the conference slate to decide the A-Sun Regular Season Champion, but FGCU defended its crown by defeating Mercer, 1-0, on the road for the Eagles' third-straight A-Sun title. FGCU capped the conference schedule with a 6-1-1 mark; just ahead of Mercer (6-2-0) and ETSU (5-2-1).

Newcomer to the conference, Northern Kentucky, made a strong debut with a 4-3-1 A-Sun record - good for fourth - and finished with a 7-10-1 overall record. Earning a spot in the A-Sun Championship for the first time in program history was USC Upstate, who tied Lipscomb at 3-4-1 against conference foes. Jacksonville rounded out the tournament participants as the Dolphins competed in their third-straight championship.

FGCU served as host of the 2012 Atlantic Sun Men's Soccer Championship for the first time in program history and entered as the top seed. The opening round of games saw ETSU hold off Jacksonville, 1-0, while Lipscomb took down USC Upstate by the same margin.

Two hard-fought battles highlighted the semifinal round as ETSU and Mercer needed penalty kicks to decide who would advance. The Bears earned their way into the finals as sophomore goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh stopped two Buccaneers attempts to advance Mercer with the 4-2 advantage. FGCU and Lipscomb followed the shootout and also needed extra time to be decided as Felipe DeSousa, the A-Sun Freshman of the Year, netted the game winner for the Eagles in the 103rd minute; his fifth game-winning goal of the season.

For the ninth-straight A-Sun Championship Final, one goal separated the two teams as FGCU netted a goal in overtime against the Bears to claim the conference crown and NCAA berth for the second-straight season. Tournament MVP, Santiago Echeverri found the net in the 95th minute to give the Eagles the title.

In the NCAA Tournament, FGCU squared off against UCF for the second-straight season after falling to the Golden Knights, 1-0, in double overtime in 2011. The Eagles and Knights once again went into overtime, but needed penalty kicks to decide who would move to the next round. Unfortunately, UCF converted on more occasions with a 5-3 advantage.

Following the season, several regional and national awards rolled in as FGCU Head Coach Bob Butehorn was tabbed the NSCAA South Region Coach of the Year. Mercer's Will Betts, the two-time Atlantic Sun Scholar-Athlete of the Year, became the fourth student-athlete in school history to be named an Academic All-American as he posted a 3.98 GPA as a Finance major.

Additional Notes:
• Nine players landed on the NSCAA All-South Region team led by A-Sun Player of the Year, ETSU's David Geno - the only first team honoree. Mercer led the way with four selections ahead of ETSU's three and FGCU's two.
• For the third-straight season, A-Sun men’s soccer teams hosted the Coaches vs. Cancer event to raise awareness and funds for the American Cancer Society. This season, all nine teams combined to raise 6,051 dollars to donate to the society with Lipscomb totaling a three-year high of 2,000 dollars.
• FGCU's Daniel Stanese and Mercer's Carl-Oscar Andersson both signed professional contracts following the season. Stanese signed with FC Nuremberg – a member of Germany’s top-tier; Bundesliga, while Andersson signed with Falkenbergs FF; a member of the Swedish football league.
• Lipscomb's Ethan Summers finished his career with 75 starts, which ranks third-most all-time in the A-Sun. Mercer's Will Betts (74; t5th), ETSU's Alesi Osorio (73; t9th) and FGCU’s Jeremy Vollmer (72; t11th) also finished their careers in the league record books.
• A-Sun teams racked up positive results against several top-notch teams this year as three teams earned a tie against UCF (FGCU, Jacksonville and Stetson). The Eagles added a 3-0 win vs. South Carolina, while ETSU posted a 1-0 win vs. No. 17 UAB and also garnered ties against No. 21 Furman and No. 16 Wake Forest.

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