Women’s soccer rebounds with win over North Florida

FORT MYERS, Florida. –The FGCU women’s soccer team returned home Thursday night against North Florida, beating the Ospreys, 3-1. With the win, the Eagles move to 4-5-0 overall and 2-1-0 in ASUN while UNF drop to 1-5-1 and 0-2-0 in the league.

“Great rebound for us,” said the head coach Jim Blankenship. “We were pretty disappointed with our effort and performance last week, but I was really happy with the way we played today against a really good North Florida team. It was really a complete team victory, we had great goals and a great goalkeeper from Katie [Sullivan]. Really happy with our team, especially with the result.”

Junior Louise Lillback (Stockholm, Sweden/Tibble Gymnasium) came back after missing a few games and proved why she was named ASUN Pre-Season Player of the Year by scoring a goal and two assists on the night. It was the 30e goal of her career as she became the second player in program history to reach that milestone.

Most Career Goals

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

The other two goals of the night came from two freshmen as Erika Zschuppe (Kirtland, Ohio/Kirtland HS) and Kendal 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 the UNF, 12-11, and had a 6-4 advantage in shots on target. The Vert et Bleu also had a 9-2 advantage on corner kicks.

It didn’t take long for FGCU to take the lead as Zschuppe scored in the fifth minute. Picking up a long pass from Lillback down the right side, she rounded her defender and fired a left-footed shot into the back of the net.

The Eagles kept pushing in the first half, but the score remained 1-0 before the break.

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

In the 73rd minute, Gargiula doubled the Eagle’s lead by accepting a pass from Lillback in the box, turned and slid the ball past the Osprey goalkeeper.

The highlight came in the 86e minute when Lillback put the Eagles up 3-0. Junior Lea Scarpelli (Brick, NJ / Brick Memorial HS / Penn State), who had the best game on SportsCenter’s Top 10 Games a week ago, may have outdone herself dribbling down the left side, splitting two defenders and spinning around another before crossing the ball to a waiting Lillback which knocked it off his chest.

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

The Eagles will be back in action Sunday afternoon against Jacksonville. Pickering Field’s kickoff against the Dolphins is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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 receive news about FGCU women’s soccer or other programs straight to your inbox by visiting www.fgcuathletics.com/email.

COACH JIM BLANKENSHIP
A veteran of more than two decades in collegiate coaching, head coach Jim Blankenship, who was named ASUN Coach of the Year in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2019, has made FGCU women’s football an annual ASUN Conference contender and a growing program in the Southern Region in just 13 seasons. Blankenship started the program in 2007 and has since guided the Eagles to 13 double-digit winning seasons, culminating in ASUN Regular Season Championships in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019. 2011 and 2012, he also led the Eagles to back-to-back ASUN Tournament titles by becoming the first team in college history to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. The Eagles won 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 three straight 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 hold four consecutive NCAA tournaments with another tournament title in 2017. Blankenship guided the FGCU to an overall record of 187-73-27 (.699) in the first 15 seasons of the program’s existence, including a 95-20-15 (.791) mark in ASUN. Blankenship’s impressive career record of 428-145-38 (.731) over 31 seasons came while coaching FGCU, University of Miami, Lynn University and St. Thomas University.

EAGLE CAMPAIGN
IT NEEDS A TEAM to achieve our most recent goal – a $10 million campaign to address the needs of student-athletes for continued academic success, life skills, mental health, nutrition, strength and conditioning as well as needs of the department for expansion and improvement of facilities as well as mentoring and leadership training for coaches and staff. The name embodies our mission and the goal of the EAGLE – Eagle Athletics Generating Lifetime Excellence campaign. Join our team and commit your donation 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 Harry Chapin Food Bank (www.harrychapinfoodbank.org), FGCU’s Charities of Choice Athletics. For more information, including how to contribute, please visit www.fgcu.edu/foodpantry and use the hashtag #FeedFGCU to help raise awareness.

ABOUT THE 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 playoff eligibility, the Eagles brought together 45 teams or individuals competing in NCAA championships. In 2022, the men’s golf team became the first program to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Eight FGCU programs ranked in the top 25 nationally in their respective sports, including women’s basketball (#20, 2021-22), beach volleyball (#20, 2022) and men’s soccer (2018, 2019) and women’s football. (2018) as four of the most recent. In 2016-17, the Vert et Bleu posted the department’s best sixth place finish in the DI-AAA Learfield Directors’ Cup and top 100 nationally, ahead of several Power-5 and FBS institutions. In 2018-19, the Eagles had an ASUN and Florida State’s top seven teams won the NCAA Public Recognition Award for their rate of academic progression in their sport. FGCU also collectively achieved a record 3.50 classroom GPA in the fall 2020 semester and outperformed the general undergraduate college population for 26 consecutive semesters. The last five semesters (Fall 2019 – Spring 2022) saw another milestone reached as all 15 programs achieved a cumulative team average of 3.0 or higher. The Eagles also served an all-time high of 7,200 volunteer hours in 2017 – being recognized as one of two finalists for the inaugural NACDA Community Service Award presented by the Fiesta Bowl.

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