FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women’s soccer team used three second-half goals en route to a 3-2 comeback win against FIU (2-4) on a rainy Friday night at the FIU Soccer Stadium.
Coming off a heart-breaking 2-1 loss in double-overtime against Miami, FGCU bounced back with a come from behind win against the Panthers. The Eagles are now 5-2 on the season and a perfect 3-0 on the road this season.
“I am very proud of the effort and character of this team,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “We fell behind early in the game but we showed tremendous toughness to fight back for the win. “Any other team would have quit in the second-half but I am proud of the way we battled back tonight.”
FGCU used three second-half goals from sophomore Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./ Bishop Verot/Lynn University), freshman Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) and the game-winner from senior Gina Petracco (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS).
The Green and Blue started their second-half rally in the 57th minute when junior Ashley Ciesielczyk (Oregon, Ohio/Clay HS) made a run inside the box and crossed it to Clay who blasted home her second goal of the season.
Just seven minutes later, Ciesielczyk made another nice pass on a through-ball to Arnold who beat the Panthers’ keeper Kaitlyn Savage one-on-one for the equalizer. FIU’s keeper Savage came out of the box but was too late as Arnold put home her team-leading third goal of the season.
In the 69th minute, FGCU’s Olivia Elias (Coral Springs, Fla./American Heritage-Delray HS) raced down the field and placed a perfect through-ball to Petracco who put home the game-winner goal. It was Petracco’s first goal of the season and fourth career game-winning goal.
The Eagles fell behind early in the game after FIU scored two-goals in the first 15 minutes of play. FIU’s Kelly Hutchinson scored the first goal after a perfect strike into the right upper 90’ off a cross from her teammate Nicole DiPerna.
The Panthers’ added another goal less than two minutes later after FIU’s Kim Lopez placed a header past FGCU senior goalkeeper Stephanie Powers (Seffner, Fla./Armwood HS).
Powers responded with two key second-half saves and finished with four saves overall. Ciesielczyk finished the contest with two assists and has a team-leading four on the season.
The Eagles finished the game with a 16-11 edge in shots and 4-3 advantage in corner kicks.
FGCU will be back in action on Sunday when they continue their road swing against the No. 9 Florida Gators (4-1).