30 Oct Bellarmine Advances Past Eagles on Penalty Kicks
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer season came to an end, Friday evening, as the Eagles fell to Bellarmine in penalty kicks in the ASUN Quarterfinals at Pickering Field. With the score tied at one after 110 minutes, the Knights won in penalties, 4-3.
“It’s gut-wrenching, especially for our seniors as they’ve put so much into our program,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “Unfortunately, that’s soccer. I’m proud of our kids and everything they’ve been through. Credit to Bellarmine, they got their chance and then held on.”
Freshman Malaya Melancon (Naples, Fla./First Baptist Academy) gave the Eagles the lead in the first half with a goal in the 31st minute. She won a 50-50 ball and dribbled into the box, taking on five defenders before firing a shot past the keeper for her second goal of the season.
The Eagles nearly held on for the 1-0 win, but Bellarmine found the equalizer in the 89th minute, sending the game to overtime.
Junior Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North HS/Creighton) made a great save in the first overtime to keep the game tied as she knocked the ball over the net on a shot by Regan Kommar.
The Eagles managed to take five shots in the second overtime, but none of them were on target.
In the shootout, the Knights keeper made the save in the first round while Elise Markley made her shot for Bellarmine. Freshman Olivia Lindstedt (Gluumslov, Sweden/Malmo Idrottsgymnasium), sophomore Leah Scarpelli (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial/Penn State) and sophomore Louise Lillback (Stockholm, Sweden/Tibble Gymnasium) each made their penalty kick to keep the Eagles alive. However, the Knights made their next three as well to maintain a 4-3 lead. In the final round, the Knight keeper made one final save to secure the victory.
The Eagles outshot Bellarmine, 21-8, but managed only five shots on goal, compared to three for the Knights. The Eagles also had a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks.
Bellarmine will advance to the ASUN semifinals on Sunday where they will take on Kennesaw State, who defeated Central Arkansas earlier on Friday.
The season comes to an end for the Eagles as they finish 10-7-1.
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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 184-69-27 (.705) overall record through the first 15 seasons of the program’s existence, including an 93-19-15 (.791) mark in the ASUN. Blankenship’s impressive career record of 424-140-38 (.736) over 31 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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