22 Aug Balanced Attack Leads Women’s Soccer Over Tampa
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Goals from four different players propelled the FGCU (1-1) women’s soccer team to a 4-0 victory over Tampa (0-1), Sunday afternoon in its home opener at Pickering Field at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
Graduate student Courtney Coleman (Antioch, Ill./Antioch Community HS/UMass Lowell) and junior Grace Paradis (Kingston, N.H./Sanborn HS/St. John’s) each collected their first goals as Eagles while junior Louise Lillback (Stockholm, Sweden/Tibble Gymnasium) and sophomore Ashley Labbe continued their goal-scoring ways from last season, each adding a goal.
“I am pleased, if we take care of business at home, we are going to ultimately have a really good season,” said head coach Jim Blankenship “It’s important and as the game went on, I thought our girls really put a stamp on it.”
The Eagles dominated the game from the opening kick as they held possession 57% of the match and outshot the Spartans, 22-8, including a 10-5 advantage in shots on goal.
In addition to their goals, Labbe and Coleman also registered an assist as did senior Alyssa Abbondandolo (Cape Coral, Fla./Oasis HS). Junior Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill/Wheaton North HS/Creighton) made five saves in goal for her first shutout as an Eagle.
Tampa was led by Elena Barr and Lone Cirotzki, who each had two shots while Lovisa Camel made six saves in goal.
FGCU jumped out to the lead in the 33rd minute when Labbe sent a cross in the box to Coleman who headed the ball past the keeper to put the Eagles up 1-0, which the score remained until halftime.
In the second half, Labbe doubled the Eagle lead with a shot from the left wing that went through the goalkeeper’s hands. Lillback extended the FGCU lead in the 71st minute with a second-chance opportunity that she buried in the lower left corner before Paradis cemented the final score with a goal in the 87th minute.
FGCU has now won five straight home openers dating back to 2017.
The Eagles will look to make it two in a row this Thursday when they host Lynn at Pickering Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
For complete coverage of FGCU women’s soccer, follow the Eagles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FGCU_WSoccer and online at www.FGCUAthletics.com. You can also sign up to have news on FGCU women’s soccer or other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.
COACH JIM BLANKENSHIP
A veteran of over two decades in collegiate coaching, head coach Jim Blankenship, who was named the ASUN Coach of the Year in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019, has built FGCU women’s soccer into a yearly contender in the ASUN Conference and a rising program in the South Region in just 13 seasons. Blankenship started the program in 2007 and has since guided the Eagles to 13 double-digit win seasons, culminating with ASUN Regular Season Championships in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. In 2011 and 2012 he also led the Eagles to back-to-back ASUN Tournament titles as they became the first team in the history of the university to make it to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles went on to win the 2014 ASUN Tournament and hosted the first NCAA Championship event on campus. The Eagles earned their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance with the 2015 ASUN Tournament Championship and won their first NCAA game at USF in 2015 while finishing 24th in the nation. In 2016, the Eagles made it three-consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament with a third-straight ASUN Tournament title. A year later, the Eagles became the first ASUN women’s soccer program to make four-straight NCAA Tournaments with another tournament title in 2017. Blankenship has guided FGCU to a 174-62-27 (.711) overall record through the first 14 seasons of the program’s existence, including an 86-17-15 (.801) mark in the ASUN. Blankenship’s impressive career record of 414-133-38 (.740) over 26 seasons has come while leading FGCU, the University of Miami, Lynn University and St. Thomas University.
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FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 85 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 14+ seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just ten seasons of D-I postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 42 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sport – including women’s basketball (No. 21, 2020-21), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2021) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as three of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general University undergraduate population for 23 consecutive semesters. The 2019 Fall, 2020 Spring, 2020 Fall. and 2021 Spring semesters each saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.
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