(12-7-1, 6-3 A-Sun)
(13-3-4, 7-0-2 A-Sun)
11/10/2013 | Fort Myers, Fla. | Attendance: 689
|Stats at a Glance||JU||FGCU|
|Shots (on Goal)||7 (5)||31 (10)|
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team (13-3-3, 7-0-2 Atlantic Sun) will take the field on Sunday afternoon in front of its home crowd with its sights set on a third-consecutive Atlantic Sun women’s soccer championship. Only Jacksonville University (12-7, 6-3) stands in the Eagles’ path.
Should FGCU go on to claim the crown, they would be the first A-Sun program to win three tournament titles in a row since UCF did so from 2001-03. Women’s soccer would also the first FGCU sport to win three conference tournament championships since joining the Division-I ranks. This program already owns the distinction of first FGCU sport to participate in the NCAA Tournament.
“Their coach is very good and their team has been traditionally phenomenal,” head coach Jim Blankenship said of Jacksonville. “Defensively they are very organized and very hard to crack … It’s going to be fun to watch, its two different systems and it will be a question of who will crack first.”
How They Got Here
The Eagles earned their spot in the final by defeating Mercer on Friday evening, 2-0. Shannen Wacker (Parker Colo./Ponderosa HS) scored her seventh goal of the season while the A-Sun Freshman of the Year, Tabby Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS), picked up her 15th score to guide the Green and Blue past the Bears.
When They Met Last
FGCU began its 2013 A-Sun slate with a match at home against Jacksonville that turned into an instant classic. Trailing 1-0 with less than 30 seconds to play in the first half, Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) played a corner kick into the box and found the head of freshman Tessa Berger (Mahurangi East, New Zealand/Epsom Girls Grammar School) who re-directed the shot home to tie the score.
Sunday’s match will mark the second time these two programs will meet in the postseason. The first came in the form of a 2-0 FGCU victory in the 2012 A-Sun semifinals.
Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/Lynn University) provided the drama in the second half when she let loose a shot from nearly 30 yards out that found the back of the net for the game-winner with less than two minutes to play. FGCU went on to an unbeaten record against A-Sun opponents for the second time in program history, claiming a fourth-straight A-Sun Regular-Season Championship.
FGCU will need to crack the code of A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Ally Lee if they hope to be crowned champions. The Dolphins allowed the third-fewest goals (23) of any team in the conference this season. Only Lipscomb (22) and FGCU (16) allowed fewer. Kaitlyn Bassett leads the Dolphins offensively with 30 points. Her 13 goals are eight clear of the next closest player on the roster. Only Tindell and Ellen Lundy of Lipscomb put up more points this season.
Wacker and Tindell have combined to score 14 of FGCU’s last 16 goals this season. Over the last five games, Tindell has exploded for eight goals, posting multiple scores three times, including a hat trick in the regular season finale at Stetson. Wacker struggled to begin the season. The team’s top returning goal scorer put just two scores in the net over the first 14 games. The Parker, Colo. native began coming off the bench five games ago and has scored in all but one game since, bringing her season total to seven and placing her just three goals shy of the FGCU career record of 24.
A-Sun Tournament Comfort
Since becoming eligible for the A-Sun postseason in 2011, the Eagles have gone 5-0, outscored their opponents 8-1 and have held the opposition scoreless for the last 388:12 minutes and counting.
Since the beginning of the 2010 season, FGCU is 34-2-6 against A-Sun foes. That number includes a 22-0-1 mark at home and extends into the 2009 season to give the Eagles a 26-game unbeaten streak at home against A-Sun competition.
The championship match will be broadcast live on ESPN3, ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members and on Apple TV.
Any student of an A-Sun institution will be admitted for free with a valid university I.D. FGCU faculty and staff will be admitted for free as well. Youth ages 14 and under will be admitted for free if they are wearing a soccer jersey or green or blue. Youth tickets will cost $3 while adult tickets will be $6.