FGCU Set to Host Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic
Thursday, August 18, 2011
FGCU is 5-1 all-time in the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic (Photo by Jim Dostie).
FGCU is 5-1 all-time in the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic (Photo by Jim Dostie).
Eastern Washington (0-1)
FGCU (1-0)
8/19/2011 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 307
Eastern Washington101
FGCU13:14ARNOLD, Melissa
EWU27:26Byers, Siara (Brannan, Whitney )
FGCU41:51CIESIELCZYK, Ashley (BURT, Brittany )
FGCU84:19ELIAS, Olivia (ARNOLD, Melissa )
EWUSchwery, Nathalie45:0020
EWUWalker, Jamie45:0021
FGCUPOWERS, Stephanie90:0014
Stats at a GlanceEWUFGCU
Shots (on Goal)9 (5)12 (5)
Corner Kicks010
Yellow Cards20

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The reigning Atlantic Sun regular season champion and preseason conference favorite FGCU women’s soccer team will officially open its 2011 campaign on Friday when it hosts the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic at the FGCU Soccer Complex.

Besides the Eagles, the two-day tournament will feature BIG EAST member Syracuse, Robert Morris of the Northeast Conference and Eastern Washington of the Big Sky Conference. The Orange and RMU will kick-off the weekend on Friday at 5 p.m. followed by the Green and Blue taking on Eastern Washington at roughly 7 p.m.

“We’re really excited to not only kick-off another season, but also to be the first team to play an official game as a full-fledge Division I athletic department,” said head coach Jim Blankenship, who has guided the Eagles to four consecutive double-digit win seasons in the first four years of the program. “This tournament is a great way to start of the season and we hope that fans will come out and help create a exciting atmosphere for the teams to play in.”

FGCU is 5-1 all-time in the Embassy Suites Classic, out-scoring its opponents 18-3 with four shutouts. The Eagles have hosted the classic in three of the first four years of the program’s history. Syracuse is the second BCS conference program to visit Southwest Florida in the last two years and the first of two to do so this year. Miami will take on the Eagles at the FGCU soccer complex on Sept. 6.

Last year, FGCU picked up the program’s first-ever win over a BCS school, defeating SEC foe Arkansas 1-0 on the final day of the classic. The win over the Razorbacks kick-started a 9-1-2 run by the Green and Blue to end the season, highlighted by an 8-0-2 A-Sun mark and a conference regular season crown.

In a vote conducted by the A-Sun Conference’s 10 head coaches, the Eagles received six first place votes and were predicted to bring home the A-Sun Tournament championship in their first year of postseason eligibility. Despite going 8-0-2 in the A-Sun in 2010, FGCU was unable to participate in postseason play the last four years due to the NCAA reclassifying period.

Both A-Sun preseason All-Conference selections, senior KC Correllus (Merritt Island, Fla./Satellite HS/Florida State) and Stephanie Powers (Seffner, Fla./Armwood HS) were critical members of an FGCU defense that posted a program record 11 shutouts and limited A-Sun opponents to just two goals in 2010. Correllus was predicted to repeat as A-Sun Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year, and was also tabbed a top 100 player in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com.

FGCU’s eight-member senior class is also led by preseason All-Conference choice Olivia Elias (Coral Spring, Fla./American-Heritage Delray HS) in the midfield. Elias produced 10 points in 2010 on four goals and two assists en route to being named a NSCAA All-South Region choice. The Eagles had a league-best six players earn A-Sun All-Conference honors last season, as senior defender Kat Hunter (Safety Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic) - 2nd Team - also returns to the pitch.

All-Tournament passes for adults are $10 and just $5 for youth (Ages 3-18). FGCU season tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for youth. Tickets can be purchased in-person at the FGCU Ticket Office or by calling 239-590-7145. Tickets will also be on sale at the gate starting one-hour prior to kick-off, but only cash is accepted. FGCU students, faculty and staff get in free with Eagle ID.

Eastern Washington (Big Sky Conference)
2010 Record (Conf./Finish): 2-14-1 (2-5/7th)
Head Coach: George Hageage (12th Season)
Capsule: The Eagles welcome back 12 players, including five starters from last year’s squad. Highlighting the group of returners for Eastern Washington is senior forward Whitney Brannan who led the team with 19 points on eight goals and three assists. Brannan tied for second in the Big Sky in both goals and points and earned honorable mention honors. Junior keeper Jamie Walker returns to anchor the EWU defense after leading the conference in saves (95) in 2010.

Robert Morris (Northeast Conference)
2010 Record (Conf./Finish): 6-11-2 (3-6-1/T-7th)
Head Coach: John Kowalski (11th Season)
Capsule: The Colonials welcome back an experienced squad of 17 returners that includes eight seniors. RMU posted six shutouts in 2010, the second-best total in single-season history. Offensively, the Colonials are led by Senior Ayana Davis who led the squad with 15 points on seven goals in 2010, figures that ranked in the top 10 in the NEC. This will be the straight season RMU has made its way to the Sunshine State, splitting a pair of games at FAU (W, 1-0) and FAU (L, 2-1) last season.

Syracuse (BIG EAST)
2010 Record (Conf./Finish): 6-9-5 (3-6-2/T-6th American Division)
Head Coach: Phil Wheddon (4th Season)
Capsule: The Orange welcome back six of their seven top scorers from 2010, highlighted by junior Tina Romagnuolo, who was a second team All-BIG EAST selection. Syracuse’s six wins were the most since the 2008 season and its 2-0 start in the BIG EAST was the best in program history. Brittany Anghel returns in net after leading a Cuse defense that posted six shutouts.