10/11/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 450
|Stats at a Glance||ETSU||FGCU|
|Shots (on Goal)||10 (5)||26 (10)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team (9-3-2, 4-0-1 Atlantic Sun) fell behind early but dominated the shot column, used a late goal in the first half and capitalized on a penalty kick opportunity in the second half to ultimately come away with a 2-1 victory over ETSU (6-6-1, 2-2-0 A-Sun) on Friday evening.
After the Eagles had fallen behind 1-0 just minutes prior, Emma Blackwell (Jenks, Okla./Jenks HS) scored her first goal of the season when she let loose a shot from 45 yards out that sailed over the hands of the ETSU goalkeeper to tie the score. The Eagles would limit the Bucs’ chances and continued to apply pressure in the second half until a hand-ball in the box in the 77th minute would give Paulina Speckmaier (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep/University of Florida) an opportunity to score on a penalty kick. Speckmaier would bury the try to provide the game-winning score and keep the Eagles unbeaten in A-Sun play heading into Sunday’s match with USC Upstate.
“I like our ability to bounce back,” head coach Jim Blankenship said after the game. “It says a lot about our character. We’re creating unbelievable opportunities and fortunately we were able to get one more than them. I like our mentality, I like the way we played; we kept the ball nice and clean. We pressed them which was nice. Watching ETSU on tape, I have a ton of respect for them and their coaching staff and their whole group. They are very good when you give them open space.”
ETSU only managed five shots in the first half but made the most of its limited opportunities. In the 37th minute a corner kick would produce confusion in the goal mouth that allowed ETSU’s Hannah Short to find control in the scrum and force the ball into the net, giving the Bucs a 1-0 advantage. The lead would not last long, however, as FGCU regained control and continued with the pressure it had established throughout the half.
Less than four minutes after the ETSU goal, Tessa Berger (Mahurangi East, New Zealand/Epsom Girls Grammar School) attempted to re-direct a corner kick on goal but the shot was blocked. The ball would be played back to the FGCU defense near midfield where Blackwell controlled the ball and let fly her deep shot that would tie the game.
FGCU applied constant pressure on the ETSU defense in the first half, firing 18 shots and attempting seven corner kicks but only forcing ETSU goalkeeper Jasmine Elliott to make three saves. The 18 shots in the opening frame are the most for the Green and Blue in any half this season. FGCU would go on to fire 26 shots in the game which marks the third straight contest that the Eagles have attempted 25 shots or more and the fifth time overall.
Much like in the Eagles’ tie with Lipscomb last weekend, the Green and Blue would see multiple shots find either the crossbar or the post. The breakthrough opportunity came in the 77th minute when Speckmaier made a run on goal to create a scoring chance. The Miami, Fla. native took a pass from Kaitlin Parker (Palm Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic HS), moved up the left side into the box and attempted to cross the ball in front when an ETSU defender deflected the pass with her hand which would automatically award FGCU a penalty kick. Speckmaier would convert the try to move the Eagles ahead for good.
ETSU would not go quietly, however, as it would generate three quality chances inside the final 10 minutes but the FGCU defense would remain stout to preserve the victory. The win now moves the Eagles to 20-0-1 at home against A-Sun opponents since the start of the 2010 season, a number that includes a 4-0 mark in postseason play at the FGCU Soccer Complex where the Green and Blue have claimed two A-Sun tournament championships.
This fall, FGCU women’s soccer along with men’s soccer and volleyball have gone a combined 12-1-2 in A-Sun play. None of those teams have been defeated over the previous 14 matches.
The Eagles will return to the pitch against USC Upstate on Sunday at 1 p.m. Prior the match FGCU will hold senior day ceremonies for Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/Lynn University) and Casey Towne (Royal Palm Beach, Fla./Suncoast Community HS/Lander Univ.).
2013-14 women’s soccer tickets are available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. Single-game tickets can be purchased for $6 per adult and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can receive a discounted rate of $3 per person. FGCU students and faculty/staff are admitted for free with a valid University ID.