Eagles improve to 6-0-2 in A-Sun; extend streak to 11 games
FORT MYERS, Fla. – Led by another dominating defensive performance, the FGCU women’s soccer team received goals from redshirt sophomore Ashley Ciesielczyk (Oregon, Ohio/Clay HS) and freshman Jenci Villaverde (Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside HS) en route to staying unbeaten in the Atlantic Sun with a 2-0 win over Belmont Friday evening at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
“I’m really proud of our effort. I felt like we beat a quality team that brought it,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “It was nice to see that our intensity and focus was so much better than last weekend. The senior group has kind of taken over a little bit. They have been together for four years and it’s important to them.”
With just two games remaining, FGCU now stands at 9-4-2 overall and, more importantly, 6-0-2 in the A-Sun. The Blue and Green’s 20 points in league play put them in sole possession of second place behind Jacksonville (7-1-1) who has 22 points. The Dolphins have played one more game than FGCU.
Led by a core of upperclassmen defenders, FGCU limited the Bruins to just one shot in the first half and a total of five for the game. The Eagles have now shutout six straight opponents and their unbeaten streak in conference play extends to 11 games (9-0-2), dating back to last year. Over that 11-game span, FGCU has out-scored their opponents, 24-2.
Belmont, who has advanced to the past two A-Sun Championship games, falls to 4-10 on the season and 2-6 in the conference.
With the pace of play being controlled by the Eagles, Ciesielczyk put the home team ahead early with her second goal of the season from 25 yards out. Ciesielczyk dribbled for 15 yards before drilling a left-footed shot into the upper right corner of the net at the 25:41 mark.
The FGCU defense stymied the Bruin attack the remainder of the opening frame, as the Blue and Green held a halftime lead, 1-0, for the seventh time this season.
Playing for the first time in five games (Sept. 19 at UNF), Villaverde provided the Eagles with the insurance goal in the 63rd minute. Sophomore Brittany Burt (St. Petersburg, Fla./Northeast HS/USF) started the play with a ball up the left side of the field to senior Lindsay Haw (Palm City, Fla./Martin County HS). Haw then drew a crowd of defenders and found Villaverde in the middle of the box for her third goal of the season.
Belmont was able to put a pair of shots on net over the final 27 minutes, but they were both stopped by junior keeper Stephanie Powers (Seffner, Fla./Armwood HS) who recorded her ninth shutout of the season and the 19th of her career.
FGCU hosts Think Pink day when it hosts Lipscomb (4-12, 0-8) on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Eagles own the all-time series against the Lady Bisons by a 2-0-1 margin. Live stats will be available for the game.
All fans are encouraged to wear PINK and help the Eagles support the fight against breast cancer. FGCU Athletics will be selling pink t-shirts for $10 for fans to purchase at the event.