FORT MYERS, Fla. – Coming off a 5-0 shutout win over Albany in its home opener Sunday, the FGCU women’s soccer team will continue its three-game homestand by welcoming a trio of schools to the FGCU Soccer Complex this weekend for the 7th Annual Embassy Suites Classic. FGCU will play Davidson on Friday night at 7 before entertaining Mississippi State on Sunday afternoon at 1.
FAU is the fourth team competing in the classic, and will open play at 4:30 p.m. Friday opposite Mississippi State. The Owls then play Davidson on Sunday in an early-morning 10:30 kickoff.
Embassy Suites Classic Schedule
Fri. Aug. 30
FAU vs. Mississippi State – 4:30 p.m.
Davidson vs. FGCU – 7 p.m.
Sun. Sept. 1
FAU vs. Davidson – 10:30 a.m.
Mississippi State vs. FGCU – 1 p.m.
This is the 7th edition of the Embassy Suites Classic, and the sixth year the women have hosted. After the women went 2-0 in 2007 as part of the classic in their initial year of competition, the men hosted the classic in 2008. Since then, the women have hosted it every year since 2009, going a combined 5-2-1 in the eight games, including a 1-0-1 mark last year with a 2-1 victory over Green Bay and a 2-2 tie opposite Illinois State.
After opening the lid on its 2013 season at No. 9 Florida with a 3-1 setback last Friday night, FGCU rebounded with a resounding blanking of the Great Danes on Sunday. A first-minute strike by senior Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) set the tone for the afternoon as the Green and Blue went on to score four first-half goals.
Clay tallied her goal just 53 seconds in, while goals followed from Ali Rogers (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) in the 25th minute, Meghan Hayden (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich HS) in the 40th minute and Tessa Berger (Mahurangi East, New Zealand/Epsom Girls Grammar) just 18 seconds before the halftime break. The lone second-half tally came off the right foot of Tabby Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) in the 63rd minute.
Kasun scored FGCU’s lone goal against the Gators, who are ranked No. 8 in the nation this week. FGCU played UF even into the 80th minute, but the SEC favorites scored twice in a six-minute span to pull away from a youthful, feisty Eagles squad.
Five of FGCU’s six goals this year have been scored in the first half, while 12 of their 21 shots have also come in the opening stanza. Julia Roddar (Falun, Sweden/Shattuck-St. Mary’s Academy) and Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) each doled out two assists in the opening weekend of play, while Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS) picked up her 10th career solo shutout.
Davidson, FGCU’s first opponent this weekend, went 7-10-3 last year, but returns its top three goal scorers from that club – Julia Singley, Stephanie Piperno and Rachael Newminster – who each tallied four goals. After opening its season with a 2-0 loss at home versus East Carolina last weekend, Davidson played Coastal Carolina to a scoreless draw on Sunday. The Wildcats, who are in their final season as a Southern Conference member before leaving for the Atlantic 10 Conference next year, were tabbed for a fourth-place finish in the So-Con in preseason league voting.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State has started the year in similar fashion to FGCU, dropping its season opener on the road at South Alabama, 3-2, before bouncing back with a 4-0 shutout over Arkansas State in its home opener Sunday. The meeting with the Bulldogs will be the second all-time between the two clubs. The first – a 1-0 MSU win in 2009 – came in the championship game of the Ponte Vedra Showcase, hosted by the University of North Florida. Senior Elisabeth Sullivan notched her 64th career point Sunday, making her the school record holder in that category.
Finally, FAU will be making its second trip to FGCU in three weeks as the Owls played the Green and Blue in an exhibition contest on Aug. 16, a game that the Eagles won, 4-1. FAU opened its season at home last weekend by hosting Albany and Arizona, dropping both outings, 2-0, and 1-0, respectively. The Owls are led in shots by sophomore Claire Emslie with five. Two FAU players, Yazmin Ongtengco and Courtney Zwetsch, have played all 180 minutes over the first two matches.
Following its two games this weekend, FGCU heads out on the road next Friday to FIU before traveling to Hawaii the following weekend (Sept. 13-15) to compete in the University of Hawaii Tournament. The Eagles return to the FGCU Soccer Complex on Friday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. against Memphis.
2013-14 women’s soccer season tickets are now available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. Season tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for youth (ages 3-12). Single-game tickets can also 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.