FORT MYERS, Fla. - Building on a fourth place finish in the A-Sun, the Florida Gulf Coast University women's soccer team is optimistic about the road that lies ahead. The Eagles welcome five new freshmen to join a team who returns four Eagles who earned A-Sun honors from just a year ago.
The Eagles are picked to finish third in the 2009 A-Sun Preseason Awards announced by the conference office. Lindsay Haw was the lone Eagle on the A-Sun Preseason All-Conference Team.
The Eagles enter their third season as a member of division I, and boast a 21-11-3 overall record. In two seasons in the A-Sun, the Eagles hold a 12-6-3 record, and seven Eagles have earned All-Conference honors. The FGCU women's soccer team is one that represents a strong commitment to athletics and academics. The 2008 squad featured 15 players to the most recent A-Sun All-Academic Team.
Amber McCall, a senior from Fort Myers, Fla., also played a significant role for the 2008 squad. McCall, who controlled the midfield earned first team honors after starting in every match this past season, she finished with five goals, and two assist for 12 total points.
Junior Lindsay Haw has played two seasons with the Eagles, and has made a name for herself in the A-Sun. The 2007 A-Sun Freshman of the year has prospered in the A-Sun, finishing second in the conference with nine assist in the 2008 campaign. Haw earned second team honors, and lead the Eagles in goals (7), assists (9), points (23) and game-winners (4) in 2008. Haw finished seventh in goals, second in assists, third in points, and tied for first with four game-winners in the A-Sun. KC Correllus is another player who had a stellar 2008 campaign in her role of anchoring the Eagles defensive unit. Correllus, a sophomore, earned second team and all-freshmen team honors. Correllus is one of three FGCU freshmen to play in 17 matches in 2008. She was a major part of the Eagles back field that posted eight shutouts on the season.
One of the biggest surprises for the Eagles this past season was freshman goalkeeper Stephanie Powers. Stephanie Powers earned All-Freshmen team honors after finishing second in save percentage (.842), second in goals against average (.810), and her three shutouts were seventh best in the A-Sun.
The Eagles midfield has flourished throughout the years with Amber McCall earning First Team A-Sun honors in her last two years. The Eagles will look for some returners to complement McCall’s success. Olivia Elias, Caytlan MacKenzie, Kayley McMillan, and Kelli Haemmelmann will compete for minutes after all of them started at least 16 matches during 2008. The forward spot looks to be a promising position for Coach Jim Blankenship’s Eagles. The Eagles return the 2007 A-Sun Freshman of the Year and 2008 Second Team All-Atlantic Sun forward Lindsay Haw. Sophomore Gina Petracco looks to get more playing time after starting 10 matches for the Eagles last year, and finishing third on the team in points.
Also adding to the Eagles’ load in 2009 is their defense which finished second in the A-Sun in goals allowed. The Eagles return all five defenders from last season. Leading the charge is KC Correllus followed by Katie Donnellan and Amanda Suchko who both aided in the Eagles eight shutouts last season.
Competing in goal are goalkeepers Emily Barrett, Kirsi Keenan and Stephanie Powers. Barrett returns after an injury sidelined her for the 2008 season. The two aided the Eagles to the second most shutouts in the A-Sun. The Eagles welcome a very promising group of freshmen to add to an already solid group of returning players.
The 2009 freshman class features:
• 1 player from the #1 team in the country (Cardinal Gibbons High School).
• 1 school record holder (24 goals in a season).
"We are really excited to have this talented group of young ladies enter our program," said head coach Jim Blankenship. “These additions have added to are already talented young team. We already have a solid foundation and our new class adds special pieces to that. Each young lady comes from a great youth system, and we not only expect them to excel on the field, but also in the classroom.”
The Eagles open up the 2009 season against four in-state foes. The schedule features a pair of matches against UCF and Miami who both reached the 2008 NCAA Tournament, along with single games against the SEC and the Sun Belt Conference. “Every year we try to put together a very competitive non-conference schedule to prepare us for conference play,” said head coach Jim Blankenship.
The Eagles open the regular season on Aug. 21 with a match against UCF in Orlando. The Knights made their 13th trip to the NCAA Tournament, which ranks as the 16th most appearances in the entire country and the most of any school in the state of Florida. The 2008 Knights were ranked during seven different weeks, and based on the Nov. 2 RPI ranking, UCF posted wins over #7 Florida, #26 Miami (Fla.), #27 Illinois, #65 Colorado College, #67 Memphis, #72 Rice and #100 Pacific.
The Eagles will then make their way to Coral Gables, Fla. to face Miami on Aug. 25, who also made it to the NCAA Tournament last season. The Eagles will stay on the road and head to Miami, Fla. to face FIU. FIU concluded last season after dropping a hard-fought 1-0 decision to Western Kentucky in the opening round of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
For the second consecutive year, the Eagles will host the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic (Sept. 4-6). The Eagles will host Tennessee-Martin, Army, and Stetson at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Eagles will face off against Tennessee-Martin on day one of the classic, and then play Army on the second and final day of the classic.
The Eagles then stay at home to face Palm Beach Atlantic on Sept. 11, and turn around and host Austin Peay on Sept. 13. The Eagles conclude non-conference play as they head to Jacksonville for the UNF Tournament (Sept. 18-20). The Eagles play the Citadel to open up the UNF Tournament (Sept. 18), and then face Mississippi State (Sept. 20) to conclude the tournament. The Eagles kick-off conference play with two on the road, first at Mercer (Sept. 25), and then at Kennesaw State (Sept. 27). The Eagles then return home to face Campbell (Oct. 3), then hit the road again for a match at Stetson (Oct. 5) before hosting Jacksonville (Oct. 9) and North Florida (Oct. 11).
The Eagles travel to Nashville to face cross-town rivals Belmont (Oct. 16) and Lipscomb (Oct. 18). Belmont, the 2008 A-Sun Champions converted two penalty kicks to beat Mercer for the A-Sun title last season. Belmont went on to fall to Auburn 2-0 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Eagles close out the regular season hosting ETSU (Oct. 23) and USC Upstate (Oct. 25). ETSU leads the all-time series 2-0, while the Eagles are 2-0 against USC Upstate.