FORT MYERS, Fla. – The 2012 FGCU women’s soccer team’s schedule will test the two-time defending Atlantic Sun champions, as the Eagles face four top 100 RPI teams from a year ago and three opponents who advanced to last year’s NCAA Tournament field, including UCF who made a run to the elite eight.
Led by sixth-year head coach Jim Blankenship, the nine-game non-conference schedule features five teams that earned a spot in their respective conference tournaments and won nine or more games.
“I am excited about defending our title and about the level of competition in our non-conference schedule,” said Blankenship. “This will have us well prepared for the conference season and we hope to have another successful season with another postseason run.”
The Atlantic Sun Conference portion of the schedule has FGCU on the road against three of the six qualifying teams from the 2011 conference tournament, where the Eagles went 7-3-1 last season. The Eagles ended the 2011 campaign with a program-best 14-5-2 overall record and an impressive 7-1-1 A-Sun mark, also claiming back-to-back A-Sun regular season titles and earning their first-ever A-Sun tournament championship. FGCU won the championship off a dramatic goal in double-overtime sending the Eagles into the NCAA Championship for the first time in program history. FGCU returns 12 players from last year’s club that posted a conference-best 12 shutouts and led the A-Sun with just one goal against in conference contests.
FGCU officially opens the season at the FGCU Soccer Complex with a pair of games against Division II Lynn University (Aug. 17) and UCF (Aug. 19). With an 11-7-1 record, Lynn advanced to the NCAA DII Sweet Sixteen last season eventually falling to No. 19 Tampa, 1-0. Meanwhile UCF, who lost in the Elite Eight round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, finished with an RPI of 20, which is the highest of any of the opponents the Eagles will face next year. The Knights finished with a 13-5-6 record that included a scoreless tie with FGCU in Orlando.
The Eagles remain home to host the Sixth Annual Embassy Suites Classic with contests against Wisconsin-Green Bay on Friday, Aug. 24 and 2011 NCAA tournament participant Illinois State on Sunday, Aug. 26. The Phoenix finished with a 3-11-4 record, while the Redbirds wrapped up 2011 with a 13-6-0 record after losing to No. 15 Milwaukee, 3-0, in the NCAA tournament. The final game of the five-game home stand ends with FIU, who won the Sun Belt tournament last season, on Friday, Aug. 31. The Panthers had a 13-7-3 record after falling to UCF, 2-0, in the NCAA tournament. The Eagles defeated FIU, 3-2, last season in Miami, Fla., scoring three unanswered goals in the second half.
The Eagles then enjoy a six-day break before heading to Kansas City, Missouri for a two-game road trip to participate in the UMKC Tournament against Tulsa (Sept. 7) and Saint Louis (Sept. 9). The Billikens had a 5-10-3 record in 2011 and did not make the Atlantic 10 Tournament after going 3-5-1 in conference. Tulsa finished 2011 season with a 10-8-3 record after a quarterfinal 2-1 loss to Memphis in the Conference USA Tournament in double-overtime.
A week later, the Green and Blue head to Northern Arizona’s (NAU) tournament in Flagstaff, Arizona to face host NAU on Friday, Sept. 14, and Utah Valley on Sunday, Sept. 16. The Lumberjacks finished the 2011 campaign fifth in the Big Sky Conference with a 3-9-7 overall record and 2-2-3 Big Sky mark. The Wolverines finished with a 12-8-1 record after winning the Great West Conference championship against Houston Baptist, 2-1, in double-overtime, but were not eligible for the NCAA Tournament.
Atlantic Sun action begins with a pair of weekend road games against USC Upstate and ETSU. The Eagles play the Spartans on Friday, Sept. 21, before traveling to Johnson City, Tenn. to play the Bucs on Sunday, Sept. 23. ETSU claimed a share of the 2011 A-Sun regular season title with the Eagles but lost in the semifinal to sixth-seeded Mercer in the A-Sun Tournament. The Spartans (2-16-1) were 0-9 in league play last season.
The Green and Blue return home to take on Lipscomb on Friday, Sept. 28, and host newest A-Sun member Northern Kentucky on Sunday, Sept. 30, at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Bisons (4-13-1) finished the 2011 A-Sun slate with a 2-7 conference mark, while the Norse (16-2-2) competing in the DII Great Lakes Valley Conference were 12-1-1 in league action and fell to Grand Valley State, 3-1, in the DII NCAA Tournament.
FGCU then heads to Jacksonville, Fla. for the final road trip of the season with a pair of A-Sun contests against UNF (Oct. 5) and Jacksonville (Oct. 7). The Ospreys (9-10-2) earned the No. 5 seed in the A-Sun Tournament after a 4-4-1 A-Sun record, while the Dolphins (11-5-3) earned a share of the A-Sun title with the Eagles after a 7-1-1 A-Sun mark. The Eagles defeated UNF twice last season with a 4-0 win at home and a 2-1 victory in the semifinal of the A-Sun Tournament. The Green and Blue tied Jacksonville in double-overtime and the Dolphins lost to sixth-seeded Mercer in postseason play.
The Green and Blue close out the A-Sun schedule with a three-game home stand against Stetson (Oct. 13), Kennesaw State (Oct. 19) and Mercer (Oct. 21). FGCU plays Stetson on Saturday, Oct. 13 after pulling out a 1-0 win in Deland, Fla. last season. The Hatters (4-11-2) finished the season with a 3-5-1 A-Sun mark.
A week later, the Eagles end the regular season with contests against the Owls on Friday, Oct. 19, and the Bears on Sunday, Oct. 21. The Owls (7-8-2) finished the season with a 3-5-1 A-Sun mark just missing out on the A-Sun Tournament. The Eagles game against Mercer (10-8-2) will be a rematch of the 2011 A-Sun championship where FGCU won 1-0 in double-overtime to advance to its first-ever NCAA Tournament. The Bears made the run to the A-Sun title game after a 3-5-1 record in league play.
2012 FGCU Women’s Soccer Schedule
Aug. 17 – LYNN UNIVERSITY, 7 p.m.
Aug. 19 – UCF, 1 p.m.
Aug. 24 – WISCONSIN-GREENBAY^, 7 p.m.
Aug. 26 – ILLINOIS STATE^, 12 p.m.
Aug. 31 – FIU, 7 p.m.
Sept. 7 – vs. Tulsa#, 5 p.m.
Sept. 9 – vs. Saint Louis#, 1 p.m.
Sept. 14 – at Northern Arizona%, 7 p.m.
Sept. 16 – vs. Utah Valley%, 11 a.m.
Sept. 21 – at USC Upstate*, 5 p.m.
Sept. 23 – at ETSU*, 1 p.m.
Sept. 28 – LIPSCOMB*, 7 p.m.
Sept. 30 – NORTHERN KENTUCKY*, 1 p.m.
Oct. 5 – at UNF*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 7 – at Jacksonville*, 2 p.m.
Oct. 13 – STETSON*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 19 – KENNESAW STATE*, 7 p.m.
Oct. 21 – MERCER*, 1 p.m.
Oct. 27-Nov. 4 – Atlantic Sun Tournament
^ - FGCU-Courtyard By Marriott Classic (FGCU Soccer Complex)
# - UMKC Tournament (Kansas City, MO.)
% - NAU Tournament (Flagstaff, AZ.)
* - Atlantic Sun Conference game