8/17/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 496
, PARKER, Kaitlin)
|Stats at a Glance||LUW||FGCU|
|Shots (on Goal)||4 (1)||28 (14)|
8/19/2012 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 675
|Stats at a Glance||UCF||FGCU|
|Shots (on Goal)||22 (8)||5 (3)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The reigning Atlantic Sun regular season and tournament champion FGCU women’s soccer team will kick off the 2012 campaign this weekend, as it plays host to Lynn University beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Green and Blue continue the opening weekend on Sunday, as they welcome No. 12 UCF to campus for a 1 p.m. start.
FGCU returns 12 players, including six starters, from the 2011 team that finished with a 14-5-2 record and brought home the program’s first-ever A-Sun tournament championship. The Eagles became the first team in school history to play in an NCAA tournament game after taking on Florida in the opening round. Ushering in 13 newcomers this season, FGCU’s regular season non-conference slate features four teams that finished in the RPI top 100 a year ago and three opponents that advanced to the NCAA Tournament.
Earning the A-Sun’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament last season, the Eagles were tabbed the preseason favorite to win both the 2012 regular season and tournament titles, as voted on by the league coaches. Senior defender Ashley Ciesielczyk (Oregon, Ohio/Clay HS) was tabbed the Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, while midfield classmate Danielle Faller (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area HS) joined Ciesielczyk on the preseason All-Conference squad.
The Green and Blue earned additional preseason recognition from TopDrawerSoccer.com, as the team was slotted No. 50 in the initial Tournament 64 and had four players named to the A-Sun Top 20 Players to Watch. In addition to the A-Sun preseason honors, Ciesielczyk and Faller were tabbed No. 4 and No. 5 in the conference, respectively, while sophomore midfielder Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) was slotted No. 14 and sophomore forward Shannen Wacker (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa HS) rounded out the FGCU players on the list at No. 15.
With 18 points on three goals, including two game-winners, and a program-record 12 assists last season, Ciesielczyk leads all returners in scoring. Arnold finished with 11 points on four goals and three assists, while Wacker also recorded double digit points with 10 on four assists and three goals, including the decisive strike in the A-Sun Championship game.
The Friday evening contest will be the first between the two programs. FGCU holds an all-time record of 3-2 in season-opening contests with a 17-6 goal differential over its opponents. The Green and Blue are 2-1 all-time when opening the season at home, and sit at 3-2 all-time in home openers. Additionally, the Eagles maintain a 15-3 goal differential in their home-opening matches.
Lynn opens the season ranked No. 20 in the NCAA Division II Women’s Preseason Rankings. The Knights return nine of 11 starters and 15 letterwinners from a squad which went 11-7-1 overall and reached the NCAA Tournament Round of 16. Despite the loss of Sunshine State Conference Player & Offensive Player of the Year Melissa Ortiz, Lynn still boasts a potent offensive attack with Lina Forsman, Jackie Hellett and Kirstie Schults combining for 10 goals and 10 assists in their freshmen campaigns.
UCF enters the opening weekend ranked No. 12 in the country according to the NSCAA poll. In their final season of Conference USA action before transitioning to the BIG EAST, the Knights were predicted to finish second behind Memphis in the preseason poll. Coincidentally, UCF finished 2011 ranked at No. 12 after its run through the NCAA Tournament concluded with the program's first Elite Eight appearance since 1987. The Knights return nine starters and four of its top five scorers from last year, including three NSCAA All-Central Region selections in Marissa Diggs, Nicolette Radovcic and All-American Tishia Jewell, as well as Portuguese National Team member Andrea Rodrigues.
The meeting will be the first between the two teams at the FGCU Soccer Complex, but the third all-time. The Eagles and then-No. 15 UCF battled to a scoreless draw last year, while the Knights took the season opener between the two clubs, 2-0, in 2009.
FGCU season tickets can be purchased in person at the Alico Arena ticket office or by phone at 239-590-7145. Tickets are also available at www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. The FGCU ticket office is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. from Monday through Friday. An adult ticket is $30, while a youth (3-12 years) ticket is $15. Single game tickets can also be bought at $6 for adults and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can get in for $3 a person. FGCU students and faculty/staff get in free with their student ID.
New to the 2012 season, FGCU Athletics is excited to offer the Half-Price Sunday Soccer Punch Pass for both adults and youths. This offer is available now through the ticket office and will be available through September 16. They will also be on sale at the ticket office on soccer game days.