FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team topped the U-17 Mexican National Team, 4-1, on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,034 fans in an exhibition match at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The game was the Eagles’ final tune-up before the regular season.
“The fan support for both sides was amazing today,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. ”A lot of people came out to support this game and it provided a great atmosphere. This is great exposure for soccer in southwest Florida and hopefully this will bring people back to more of our games this season.”
Redshirt junior Katie Donnellan netted the first goal in the eighth minute to give the Eagles a 1-0 lead. After running down a pass on the left side of the field, freshman Jenci Villaverde found Donnellan with a pass into the center of the goalie box en route to the junior beating the keeper on the right side of the goal.
FGCU took a two-goal, 2-0, lead when Villaverde struck again, this time scoring on a one-on-one with the keeper in the 25th minute of the match. Villaverde, a first-year forward from Palm Bay, Fla., scored in both exhibition games to start her collegiate career.
Mexico’s best chance of the first half came in the 36th minute when a shot by Mexico’s Paola Lopez was headed for the back of the net, but redshirt junior Kat Hunter cleared the ball of the goal line.
Junior Stephanie Powers earned the win in net and tallied three saves in her 45 minutes of work, as the Eagles took a 2-0 advantage into the locker room.
Redshirt sophomore Ashley Ciesielczyk tallied both Eagle goals in the second half. Donnellan connected with Ciesielczyk at the 53:50 mark to give FGCU a 3-0 lead. Junior Brianna McCall served a corner kick to the middle of the net which found Ciesielczyk in the 84th minute for her second goal and the final tally of the match.
Mexico scored its lone goal in the 57th minute on a direct kick. Christina Murillo hit a hard ball past the outstretched hands of senior keeper Kirsi Keenan. Keenan stopped four shots in the second half.
“I was pleased with our effort and the way we came out to start the game” Blakenship said. “We need to get in a rhythm early in games and today we did that, but we need to do a better job of staying in rhythm the entire contest. We’ve had a good preseason with two wins over quality opponents so we should have some confidence going into the start of the season.”
FGCU posted a 2-0 record during the preseason, out-scoring FAU and Mexico by a combined 6-2.
The Blue and Green open the regular season against Barry University on Friday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at the FGCU Soccer Complex. Tickets are on sale and can be purchased through the FGCU Ticket Office in Alico Arena either in person or by phone at (239) 590-7145. Tickets are also available on www.FGCUathletics.com/tickets. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for youth (Ages 3-18). Admission for faculty and staff along with students is free.