17 Sep Women’s Soccer to Close Out Non-Conference with USF
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team looks to make it two in a row to close out the non-conference slate when it hosts South Florida this Sunday at Pickering Field. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and the game will be streamed on Facebook Live.
The Eagles are coming off a big win on the road at Florida Atlantic this past Sunday to improve to 3-4 on the season. Graduate student Zoey Spitzer (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) scored the lone goal of the contest when she fired a shot top-shelf in the 58th minute off an assist from sophomore Leah Scarpelli (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial HS/Penn State). Junior Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill/Wheaton North HS/Creighton) was solid in goal for FGCU as she made three saves to earn her second shutout of the season.
Around the ASUN, four teams, including FGCU, picked up wins on Sunday, all in shutout fashion. Liberty defeated Longwood, 5-0, while Eastern Kentucky took down Wright State, 2-0. Bellarmine also picked up a 2-0 win over Southern Illinois, its first win of the season after drawing in five straight to begin the campaign.
South Florida enters the game coming off a 3-2 overtime win, Thursday night against East Carolina in its AAC opener. The Bulls are receiving votes in the United Soccer Coaches Top-25 poll and were ranked as high as #11 earlier in the season. They currently sit a 5-2-1 on the season with wins over Florida, Kentucky, Miami, and North Florida.
The player to watch for the Bulls is junior Sydny Nasello as she leads the team with five goals and two assists this season. She is also top-ten in the country in shots, averaging five per game, nearly three of which on on goal.
The Bulls have a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series, but the win for the Eagles was the biggest in program history when they defeated USF in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in 2015, FGCU’s first and to-date only win in the Big Dance. Sunday will also be the first time that the two teams will play in Fort Myers in a non-exhibition match.
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 177-66-27 (.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 417-137-38 (.736) over 31 seasons has come while leading FGCU, the University of Miami, Lynn University and St. Thomas University.
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FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and utilize the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.
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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