21 Sep Women’s Soccer Opens ASUN with Home Matches Against EKU, Bellarmine
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team welcomes two first-time opponents to Pickering Field this week to open up ASUN play. The Eagles will battle Eastern Kentucky, Thursday evening at 7 p.m. before playing host to Bellarmine, Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Eagles wrapped up the non-conference season on Sunday, falling to (RV) South Florida, 2-1, at Pickering Field. Freshman Olivia Lindstedt (Gluumslov, Sweden/Malmo Idrottsgymnasium) scored her first-career goal, but it was not enough as All-American Sydny Nasello scored twice for the Bulls.
Overall this season, graduate student Zoey Spitzer (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) leads the Eagles with two goals and is tied for the team-lead in points with four alongside freshman Ashley Labbe (Lake Worth, Fla./Suncoast HS). Junior Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North HS/Creighton) leads FGCU with 25 saves and has also earned two shutout victories in goal.
Around the ASUN, two teams picked up wins in their non-conference finales on Sunday. Liberty defeated UNC Greensboro, 2-0, while Kennesaw State took down Wofford, 3-1. Jacksonville and North Florida also picked up draws in their matches against the College of Charleston and Florida, respectively.
After 70-plus seasons in the Ohio Valley Conference, EKU enters its first ASUN conference season with a 4-4 overall record. In their most recent game, the Colonels fell to Miami (Ohio), 2-0, but they have picked up wins this season over Wright State, Ohio, Northern Illinois, and IUPUI.
Michaela Iacono leads EKU with eight points on two goals and four assists while Marah Krick is second in the ASUN with 39 saves in goal.
Bellarmine is actually in its second year in the ASUN and Division I overall, but the Knights and Eagles did not play each other in last year’s shortened spring season. So far in 2021, Bellarmine is 2-1-5, having won two of its last three matches after starting the year with five draws.
Regan Kommor leads the Knights with six points (2g, 2a) while five other players have registered a goal. Elyssa Francis has played about 70% of the minutes in goal and has allowed under a goal-per-game for Bellarmine while making 38 saves.
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 (.703) 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 (.735) 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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