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FGCU Bounces Back with 2-0 Win Over FIU

Published: September 13, 2015
FORT MYERS, Fla. – With two first-half goals and a clean sheet from the backline, the FGCU women’s soccer team defeated FIU 2-0 Sunday afternoon at the FGCU Soccer Complex. The Eagles improve to 4-3-1 with the victory, while FIU moves to 3-4 on the year. FGCU kept control of play through the entire contest and maintained possession in its offensive third for most of the game. The Eagles outshot FIU 15-2 and held the Panthers without a shot for the entire second half. Senior Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece-Athena High School) made two saves in the first half and held the visiting team scoreless for her 32nd career shutout. With her fifth shutout of the season, Brown now stands alone as the all-time leader in career shutouts for both FGCU and the Atlantic Sun. Brown surpasses Stephanie Powers who had 31 shutouts in her four-year career with the Green and Blue. Overall, the Eagles produced six shots on goal from six different players with nine players threatening the Panther backline with shot attempts. “Our defense was great today,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “ FIU is a very good team and has gotten really good results this year. To hold them to two or three shots with no real dangerous situations is really great to see.” “Brown has been amazing and it’s a phenomenal feat for her,” Blankenship added of Brown’s career record. “It’s a testament to the amazing career she’s had with us and I’m so proud of her.” With Tabby Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic High School) back in the lineup, the Eagles put together a handful of offensive opportunities early in the match. Senior Ally Kasun (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield High School) fired a shot from 20-yards out that went high after Tindell fed her at the top of the box. Just two minute later, Meaghan Mulligan (Freehold, N.J./Colts Neck High School/Tennessee) received the ball from Tindell and took a similar shot from the left side of the box that also went high. FIU’s first offensive chance came in the 14th minute as the Panthers produced a shot from long range but Brown stopped the opportunity to maintain the 0-0 score. Paulina Speckmaier (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep) and Nikki Hudson (Baltimore, Md./Roland Part Country School/Rutgers) created back-to-back shots in the next three minutes with both attempts going wide. In the second opportunity, Ali Rogers (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast High School) used a run down the left sideline to feed Hudson in the box, but the score held. Rogers put the Eagles on the scoreboard for the first time in 200 minutes of play in the 19th minute. FIU was whistled for a free kick 25-yards from the goal in the center of the field and set up a five-person wall near the penalty hash mark. Speckmaier took the kick for FGCU and fed Tindell with a pass on the ground but her attempt was broken up by the FIU defense. In the scuffle, freshman Ashley Blanchard (Largo, Fla./Largo High School) received the ball and dished to Rogers on the right side who knocked the shot in at the far post, pushing the Green and Blue ahead. FGCU maintained control of the game and sparked another strong opportunity in the 27th minute. Freshman Darien Davis (New Port Richey, Fla./River Ridge High School) broke through the midfield on the left side and fed Speckmaier at the top of the box. Speckmaier fired off a one-touch shot but the attempt hit the crossbar. FIU responded with a counterattack through the right side and took a long-range shot at Brown, forcing the keeper to make her second save of the day. The Eagles forged ahead with a 2-0 lead late in the half with a tally from Davis. Shea Rhoney (Lithia, Fla./Newsome High School) gained control of the ball near midfield and drove through the FIU midfield and defense and into the box at the right corner. Rhoney fed Davis in the six-yard box where the rookie beat the keeper with a shot for her first collegiate goal. FGCU maintained the 2-0 lead through the break and finished the first half with an 8-2 advantage in shots. The offensive surge continued into the second half as Kaitlin Parker (Palm Harbor, Fla./Clearwater Central Catholic High School) and Speckmaier yielded back-to-back shots that challenged the FIU keeper in the opening minutes. Rhoney followed with an attempt that went high in the 55th minute as FGCU maintained control of play. The Eagles held on to the advantage through the final whistle, with most of the game’s action in the midfield. The team’s best chance to extend the lead late came in the 80th minute as Hudson received the ball at the right sideline from Lauren Green (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins High School). Hudson beat the defense and sprinted into the box where she took on the FIU keeper with a point-bank shot from six-yards off the goal line. Hudson’s first attempt was blocked by the keeper. She fired another shot immediately on the rebound but the attempt went wide to give FIU possession. FGCU maintained control in the final minutes and moved above .500 with its fourth win of the season. With one weekend remaining before the Atlantic Sun Conference season begins, the Eagles will travel north for two final nonconference contests. FGCU will face Miami of Ohio Friday, Sept. 18 in Oxford, Ohio and will take on no. 8 West Virginia on Sunday, Sept. 20 in Morgantown. The Green and Blue will return to the FGCU Soccer Complex Saturday, Sept. 26 for the start of the A-Sun slate as the Eagles begin the quest for their sixth-straight A-Sun title in a 7 p.m. contest against North Florida.
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