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Men’s Soccer Team up to No. 8 in United Soccer Coaches Top-25 Poll

Georg Michajlov
Georg Michajlov

The climb continued for the Florida Southern men's soccer team this week as the Moccasins moved up one more spot in the October 2 United Soccer Coaches national poll, and now sit at No. 8 with a 9-0 record and the best start in team history. Florida Southern is one of four Sunshine State Conference teams in this week's poll and will be hosting two of them this week at Moccasin Field, with No. 24 Florida Tech visiting on Wednesday night, and No. 18 Nova Southeastern arriving on Saturday night.

The Moccasins reached 9-0 last week under second-year head coach Jason Carlson with a 3-0 win at Flagler and a 1-0 win at Tampa. James Meehan scored twice and assisted the third goal in the first win before Foster Appiah's goal four minutes into the second half at Tampa extended the winning streak and gave Florida Southern its best start to a season in the program's 62-year history. The previous best was an 8-0 start in 1997 when the Moccasins tied their ninth game and did not lose until their 10th. They went on to post a 12-3-2 record that season under Kris Pahl.

The No. 8 national ranking and No. 2 regional ranking are the highest the Moccasins have ever had. Prior to last week, they had never reached the national top-10. Now they are one of only four remaining unbeaten, untied teams in Division II along with No. 1 Simon Fraser (9-0), No. 2 Palm Beach Atlantic (10-0), and No. 3 Young Harris (9-0). A handful of other teams are still undefeated but have at least one tie on their record.

Florida Southern's nine-game winning streak has tied the longest in team history, equaling the mark spanning the 1996-97 seasons. That one included the final game of '96 and the first eight games of '97. The Moccasins are one short of the school record for longest unbeaten streak, which includes draws, something they accomplished by going 7-0-3 during a carry-over streak from 1967-68, and 9-0-1 over the 1996-97 seasons.

The Moccasins have still allowed only two goals this season and rank second in Division II with a goals against average of 0.221, trailing only defending national champion Charleston (WV), which has a 0.214 GAA. They also rank third in shutout percentage with seven in nine games, and those seven shutouts are the second most in team history. Sophomore goalkeeper Benny Yusufoglu is second individually in D-II with a 0.22 GAA, putting him just behind Valentin Kliebe of Northern Michigan who is at 0.20. The starting back line of Appiah, Daniel Moore, Jake Starling, and Claus Lehland is allowing just 8.2 shots per game, which as it stands would be a new school record.

Offensively, Florida Southern is averaging a shade under 3.0 goals per game, which would be its best scoring average in 18 years if it holds. Meehan (15 points on seven goals and one assist) and Christoph Gums (14 points on five goals and four assists) are fourth and sixth in the SSC in scoring, while Gums and Pablo Gallo Arias are among the top-10 in assists with four apiece.

Wednesday night's game against No. 24 Florida Tech, which kicks off at 7 p.m., will be the second time this year Florida Southern has been involved in a ranked-vs.-ranked matchup, and Saturday night's game against No. 18 Nova Southeastern will be the third. Prior to this year, the Moccasins had only played four such games in their history.

The Moccasins have already played two top-25 teams this year, defeating then-#15 Lynn 2-1 in overtime on September 15 in Boca Raton, and then-#14 Rollins 2-0 on September 19 at Moccasin Field. Only once before has Florida Southern beaten three top-25 teams in one season, with that occurring in 2010 under head coach Hugh Seyfarth. The Moccasins won all three of those games on the road, defeating #17 Rollins 3-1 in Winter Park, #22 Barry 1-0 in Miami Shores, and #15 Lynn 2-1 in Boca Raton.