20 Aug Women’s Soccer Welcomes Tampa for Home Opener
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off an opening night defeat at Tennessee, the FGCU women’s soccer team will look to rebound on Sunday when it hosts the University of Tampa in its home opener. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Pickering Field at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
The Eagles will be looking to even up their record after a 6-0 loss to the Volunteers to open the season on Thursday night. Tennessee scored a goal in the opening minutes and never looked back as they added another first-half goal before scoring four times in the second half to put the contest out of reach. Junior Louise Lillback (Stockholm, Sweden/Tibble Gymnasium) paced the Eagles with two shots on goal while junior Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North HS/Creighton) saved seven shots in her FGCU debut in goal.
Around the ASUN, four teams picked up positive results with Eastern Kentucky (4-3 vs. IUPUI), North Florida (4-1 vs. Western Carolina), and Lipscomb (2-1 vs. Mississippi State) taking home victories while Bellarmine drew with Evansville, 1-1.
For Tampa, this will be its season opener. The Spartans are coming off a 6-0-1 season in 2020-21 and will look to carry that momentum into the new campaign. Laken Gallman and Hannah Kirkpatrick were the top goal scorers for the Spartans with two each last spring while Madison McElhone tallied a team-high two assists.
Sunday’s match will be the first between the two west Florida schools. It is the second game in a row that the Eagles will be facing a first-time opponent.
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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