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Women’s Soccer Bounces Back with Win over North Florida

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Women’s Soccer Bounces Back with Win over North Florida

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team returned home, Thursday evening, against North Florida, defeating the Ospreys, 3-1. With the win, the Eagles improve to 4-5-0 overall and 2-1-0 in the ASUN while UNF falls to 1-5-1 and 0-2-0 in league play.

“Great bounce back for us,” said the head coach Jim Blankenship. “We were pretty disappointed in our effort and performance last week, but I was very pleased with how we played today against a very good team in North Florida. It was truly a complete team win, we had some great goals and great goalkeeping from Katie [Sullivan]. Really pleased with our team, especially the result.”

Junior Louise Lillback (Stockholm, Sweden/Tibble Gymnasium) returned after missing a couple of games and proved why she was named the ASUN Preseason Player of the Year as she tallied a goal and two assists on the night. It was the 30thth goal of her career as she became just the second player in program history to reach the milestone.

Most Career Goals

1. 66 Tabby Tindell 2013-16
2. 30 Louise Lillback 2019-present
3. 28 Shannen Wacker 2011-14
4. 25 Evdokia Popadinova 2018-19
5. 24 Amber McCall 2007-09

Most Career Points

1. 162 Tabby Tindell 2013-16
2. 83 Shannen Wacker 2011-14
3. 68 Lindsey Haw 2007-10
4. 67 Louise Lillback 2019-present
5. 67 Marjorie Boilesen 2017-19
6. 66 Paulina Speckmaier 2013-16
7. 59 Evdokia Popadinova 2018-19
8. 57 Amber McCall 2007-09
9. 53 Ally Kasun 2012-15
10. 44 Gina Petracco 2008-11

The other two goals of the night came from a couple of freshmen as well Erika Zschuppe (Kirtland, Ohio/Kirtland HS) and Kendall Gargiula (North Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) each found the back of the net for the first time in their careers.

The Eagles outshot UNF, 12-11, and had a 6-4 advantage in shots on target. The Green and Blue also had a 9-2 edge in corner kicks.

It didn’t take long for FGCU to take the lead as Zschuppe scored in the fifth minute. Gathering a long pass from Lillback up the right side, she got around her defender and fired a shot with her left foot into the back of the net.

The Eagles continued to push in the first half, but the score remained 1-0 heading into the break.

In the second half, both teams had their chances with graduate students Katie Sullivan (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton North HS/Creighton) making a couple of saves to keep the Ospreys off the scoreboard.

In the 73rdrd minute, Gargiula doubled the Eagle lead as she took a pass from Lillback in the box, turned around and slotted the ball past the Osprey goalkeeper.

The highlight came in the 86th minute when Lillback put the Eagles up 3-0. Junior Leah Scarpelli (Brick, NJ/Brick Memorial HS/Penn State), who had the top play on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays a week ago, may have topped herself as she dribbled down the left side, split two defenders, and spun around another before crossing the ball to an awaiting Lillback who knocked it in off her chest.

North Florida added a late goal in the 90th minute to produce the final score.

The Eagles will be back in action on Sunday afternoon against Jacksonville. Kickoff form Pickering Field against the Dolphins is set for 1 pm

For complete coverage of FGCU women’s soccer, follow the Eagles on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook at @FGCU_WSoccer and online at www.FGCUAthletics.com. You can also sign up to have news on FGCU women’s soccer or other programs delivered directly to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.

COACH JIM BLANKENSHIP
A veteran of over two decades in collegiate coaching, head coach Jim Blankenship, who was named the ASUN Coach of the Year in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019, has built FGCU women’s soccer into an annual contender in the ASUN Conference and a rising program in the South Region in just 13 seasons. Blankenship started the program in 2007 and has since guided the Eagles to 13 double-digit win seasons, culminating with ASUN Regular Season Championships in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. In 2011 and 2012 he also led the Eagles to back-to-back ASUN Tournament titles as they became the first team in the history of the university to make it to the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles went on to win the 2014 ASUN Tournament and hosted the first NCAA Championship event on campus. The Eagles earned their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance with the 2015 ASUN Tournament Championship and won their first NCAA game at USF in 2015 while finishing 24th in the nation. In 2016, the Eagles made it three-consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament with a third-straight ASUN Tournament title. A year later, the Eagles became the first ASUN women’s soccer program to make four-straight NCAA Tournaments with another tournament title in 2017. Blankenship has guided FGCU to a 187-73-27 (.699) overall record through the first 15 seasons of the program’s existence, including a 95-20-15 (.791) mark in the ASUN. Blankenship’s impressive career record of 428-145-38 (.731) over 31 seasons has come while leading FGCU, the University of Miami, Lynn University and St. Thomas University.

EAGLE CAMPAIGN
IT TAKES A TEAM to achieve our newest goal – a $10 million campaign to address student-athlete needs in continued academic success, life skills, mental health, nutrition, and strength and conditioning as well as departmental needs in facility expansion and improvement as well as mentoring and leadership training for coaches and staff. The name embodies our mission and the purpose of the EAGLE Campaign – Eagle Athletics Generating Lifetime Excellence. Join our team and pledge your gift today to help the Eagles of tomorrow!

#FEEDFGCU
FGCU Athletics sponsors events in November and April to benefit the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry) and the Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU Athletics’ charities of choice. For more information, including how to make a contribution, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.

ABOUT FGCU
FGCU teams have combined to win an incredible 92 conference regular season and tournament titles in just 15 seasons at the Division I level. Additionally, in just 11 seasons of DI postseason eligibility, the Eagles have had a combined 45 teams or individuals compete in NCAA championships. In 2022, the men’s golf team became the first program to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. Eight FGCU programs have earned a top-25 national ranking in their respective sports – including women’s basketball (No. 20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (No. 20, 2022) and both men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s soccer (2018) as four of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Green and Blue posted a department-best sixth-place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top-100 showing nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and state of Florida best seven teams earn the NCAA’s Public Recognition Award for their Academic Progress Rate in their sport. FGCU also collectively earned a record 3.50 GPA in the classroom in the fall 2020 semester and has outperformed the general university undergraduate population for 26 consecutive semesters. The past five semesters (Fall 2019 – Spring 2022) saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a 3.0-or-higher cumulative team GPA. The Eagles also served an all-time high 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two runners-up for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.

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