FORT MYERS, Fla. – The reigning Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament champion FGCU women’s soccer program earned some preseason recognition early in the week when TopDrawerSoccer.com listed the Eagles as one of their six small conference schools to watch heading into the 2012 campaign.
FGCU along with Boston University (America East), Denver (WAC), Samford (Southern), Illinois State (Missouri Valley) and Toledo (MAC) made up the soccer website’s six-team list. Oddly enough, the Green and Blue will square off against Illinois State on the final day (Aug. 26) of the 6th Annual Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
Led by head coach Jim Blankenship, FGCU won both the Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament title in 2011, to become FGCU’s first-ever program to advance to an NCAA Division I Tournament. The 2011-12 season was the school’s fifth year in Division I, but first as postseason eligible.
FGCU’s 14-5-2 record in 2011 extended its consecutive double figure wins streak to five since the program took the field in 2007. FGCU has an all-time record of 57-25-10, but an even more impressive 33-8-8 mark in the A-Sun where it owned a 21-game unbeaten streak (18-0-3) that stretched from 2009 through the final conference game of 2011. The Green and Blue won their first A-Sun regular season crown in 2010 with an 8-0-2 record.
The returning 12 players, including six starters, from last season along with 13 newcomers will officially start the 2012 season on Wednesday, August 1 when practice commences at 8 a.m. FGCU’s regular season non-conference slate features four teams that finished in the top 100 a year ago and three opponents who advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles will open the regular season on Friday, Aug. 17 at home against Lynn University at 7 p.m.
Top Drawer Soccer’s Write-up on FGCU Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun): Coach Jim Blankenship started the FGCU program and in five seasons of existence the team is 57-25-10. The Eagles won the conference title last year. Gina Petracco is a tough loss among leading scorers, as is goalkeeper Stephanie Powers, but key returnees include Ashley Ciesielczyk, Melissa Arnold and Shannon Wacker. Expect more good things from the Eagles.