FORT MYERS, Fla. – A penalty kick goal in the 60th minute by Syracuse’s Brittany Kinmond provided the difference in a physical affair between the Orange and the FGCU women’s soccer team on a hot Sunday afternoon, as the visitors came away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory in the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic.
The two teams produced nearly identical numbers and combined for six cards, but it was a tackle in the box that led to Syracuse’s penalty kick and the eventual game-winning goal.
“I’m obviously disappointed in the result, but we had our chances down the stretch to equal the score so I’m happy that we didn’t let up,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “Give credit to Syracuse because they played a physical game that threw us off a bit. We’ll definitely take a lot from this game and continue to grow as a team.”
The parity between the two teams was obvious from the start, as neither could break through on the goal column over the opening 45 minutes. Redshirt junior Ashley Ciesielczyk (Oregon, Ohio/Clay HS) provided FGCU’s best scoring chance of the first half with a shot from 25 yards out that was pushed away at the last second by Syracuse keeper Brittany Anghel.
Still tied 0-0 in the 60th minute, Syracuse got into the Green and Blue defense with a ball up the right side and earned the penalty kick when FGCU was whistled for a foul inside the goal box. Kinmond, who was fouled on the play, made good on the penalty kick for the game’s only goal.
FGCU nearly tied the score just minutes later, but senior Stacey Payne’s (Coral Springs, Fla./American Heritage-Delray HS) shot was saved and junior Danielle Faller’s (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Area HS) blast off the rebound was blocked by a Syracuse defender in the 64th minute.
After scoring in her first game as an Eagle on Friday, sophomore Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS/Lynn University) nearly made it two goals in two games when her shot at the 72:35 mark drilled the left post. Clay worked her way down the left sideline and beat the keeper with a shot to the near post, but the ball caromed off the post and deflected into the center of the box but Syracuse was able to clear.
FGCU’s comeback was stifled over the last five minutes having to play person down due to a red card.
The loss evened FGCU’s record at 1-1 on the young season and was just its second defeat in the four years of the Embassy Suites Kick-Off Classic (6-2). The Eagles held a commanding 9-1 edge in corner kicks, but were unable to capitalize.
Senior Stephanie Powers (Seffner, Fla./Armood HS) made three saves in net for the Eagles.
In the first game of the day, Robert Morris improved to 2-0 on the weekend behind two second half goals in a 3-1 win over Eastern Washington. The Colonials defeated Syracuse, 1-0, on Friday.
FGCU will be back in action with a weekend road trip to North Carolina. The Eagles will begin the two-game swing by taking on the reigning Atlantic 10 regular season champion Charlotte 49ers on Friday, August 26 at 7 p.m. The trip will conclude with a 1 p.m. kick on Sunday at Davidson.