19 Sep Eagles Fall to USF, ASUN Play Up Next
FORT MYERS, Fla. – In its final non-conference match of the season, the FGCU women’s soccer team (3-5) played tough against (RV) South Florida (6-2-1), but ultimately fell to the Bulls, 2-1, Sunday afternoon at Pickering Field.
South Florida’s All-American Sydny Nasello scored both goals for the Bulls, while freshman Olivia Lindstedt (Gluumslov, Sweden/Malmo Idrottsgymnsium) scored her first-career goal for the Eagles.
“It was great game, a tough one,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “Honestly, I’m proud of the players and how they fought. I feel like we are getting better each game and today was another example of that. Like everybody else, we are now 0-0 [heading into ASUN play]. We’ve had enough now to see what we need to fix and I think we are going to do well.”
Both teams were on the attack most of the game as 31 shots were taken between the two teams. USF had 20, half of which were on goal, while the Eagles took 11 shots with six on target. USF also had a 10-3 advantage on corner kicks.
Sophomore Leah Scarpelli (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial HS/Penn State) led the Eagles with two shots on goal. Junior Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North HS/Creighton) was active all game in goal as she made a season-high eight saves.
Sullivan had to be ready from the start as she made a great save just two minutes into the game from point-blank range. However, she could not stop Nasello, who opened the scoring in the 27th minute as she tapped in a cross from Paula Leblic.
Coming out of the break with the score the same, Lindstedt found the equalizer in the 56th minute as she took a one-timer off a mistake from the defender from the edge of the box, firing the ball past USF’s All-American keeper.
The Bulls responded, however, in the 71st minute as Nasello headed the ball into the corner of the net off a free kick to retake the lead.
Graduate student Meagan Gruber (Long Beach, Calif./Woodrow Wilson HS/Jacksonville) nearly tied the game in the 78th minute as she fired a shot from about 40 yards out, but the ball hit the post.
The Eagles had one last chance in the 82nd minute with a free kick from just outside the box, but Kajsa Lang’s (Kalmar, Sweden/Stagneliusskolan) shot was saved.
FGCU will return to action on Thursday evening when it hosts ASUN newcomer Eastern Kentucky at 7 p.m. in the conference opener.
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 177-67-27 (.706) overall record through the first 15 seasons of the program’s existence, including an 86-17-15 (.801) mark in the ASUN. Blankenship’s impressive career record of 417-138-38 (.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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