LYNCHBURG, Va. – Behind a late Tabby Tindell goal and a solid defensive effort, the FGCU women’s soccer team earned its second consecutive road win, defeating Liberty 1-0 Friday. FGCU (4-4) took the lead on the senior’s fifth goal of the season in the 77th minute, putting an end to the home side’s shutout streak, and limited Liberty’s (4-4) chances late to seal the victory.
“This was a great win against a very tough, well organized Liberty team,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “I thought our mentality was very good in the second half and ultimately we were rewarded with a goal. Credit to our backline as well to keep the clean sheet.”
The Eagles had luck on their side early as the Lady Flames missed a golden opportunity to take the lead just moments after the opening whistle. From there, FGCU had the better of play, creating multiple chances in the first half but none would result in a goal. The second half included a barrage of chances, two from Paulina Speckmaier (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep/Florida) and finally the breakthrough from Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) with just over 13 minutes left in the match. Melissa Weck (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) made two saves, both in the first half, for her fourth shutout of the season and her young career.
Tindell’s goal, the 57th of her career, moves her into a tie for fourth place all-time in Atlantic Sun history with Georgia State’s Kara Fitzgerald (1994-97). Speckmaier, who assisted on the goal, moved into a tie for fourth place in FGCU history with 57 points alongside Amber McCall (2007-09).
It was almost a nightmare start for the Green and Blue when Liberty’s Isabella Habuda was left wide open on the backpost only to miss the goal entirely on her early sliding effort. After recovering from the near-setback, FGCU pressed forward to earn the first of five first half corners. Meaghan Mulligan’s (Freehold, N.J./Colts Neck High School/Tennessee) service was headed back across goal by Nikki Hudson (Baltimore, Md./Roland Park County School/Rutgers) leading to a scramble in front of goal. However, no one in a blue shirt was able to put a shot on frame before the ball was cleared away.
Liberty had another chance in the 10th minute when Gabrielle Farrell had a point-blank shot saved by Weck, which appeared to turn the momentum back in the favor of FGCU. The Eagles earned consecutive corners in the 13th and 14th minutes with the latter leading to an Ali Rogers (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) attempt at goal which was pushed over the bar by Liberty goalkeeper Holly Van Noord.
FGCU then had its first long spell of possession around the 20-minute mark leading to its first excellent opportunity. The Green and Blue knocked the ball around the midfield, advancing into the attacking third. Speckmaier and Tindell then combined, springing the forward past multiple defenders and into a dangerous position. Tindell’s shot toward the far post from eight yards out was saved by Van Noord however.
Speckmaier tested Van Noord in the 30th minute, but it was sent out of bounds by the goalkeeper for the fifth corner of the opening stanza. While nothing came of the corner, FGCU continued to maintain possession for the bulk of play.
Weck wasn’t troubled again until the 42nd minute, denying Elisa Warren the opening goal of the match. Rogers tested Van Noord one final time before the half but the Lady Flames ‘keeper was up to the task, sending the match into the break scoreless.
The second half began with a flurry of chances for the Eagles, the first was a header from Emilie Olsen (Frekhaug, Norway/Tertnes VGS) that went over the bar. Tindell then got in on the action but her shot went just wide of goal. After another Eagle corner, Camille Knudstrup (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins HS) won a header, directing it toward goal but ultimately wide of the net.
Olsen then found a pocket of space in the 58th minute, but Van Noord made the save on the freshman temporarily. On the rebound, Olsen wasn’t quite able to get over the ball sending her shot above goal.
In the 63rd minute of play, Speckmaier made a run into the box and struck a pass with her first touch but mishit it slightly, sending it high. The midfielder however would find Tindell in the 77th minute, putting her into space along the left side. Tindell did the rest, making a brilliant 30-yard run while beating multiple Liberty defenders before slotting it past Van Noord from 10 yards out to put the Eagles in front 1-0. The goal brought Liberty’s shutout streak to an abrupt end at 421 minutes.
Liberty had two chances blocked late in the match as FGCU clinically closed out the 1-0 victory, its fourth of the season.
FGCU outshot 17-7 while forcing Van Noord to make five saves. The Eagles also held a 7-4 advantage in corners.
The Eagles return home Sunday for a 1 p.m. match with St. Bonaventure. After the game, all girls 12 and under are invited to join the FGCU women’s soccer players and staff for a free 30-minute skills clinic.