FORT MYERS, Fla. – Back-to-back goals by freshman Shannen Wacker (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa HS) and senior Gina Petracco (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) separated by less than six minutes proved to be the difference, as the top-seeded FGCU women’s soccer team defeated fifth-seeded North Florida in the Atlantic Sun Tournament semifinals on a chilly Friday night at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
With the win in the program’s first-ever postseason game, FGCU advances to Sunday’s A-Sun championship game against sixth-seeded Mercer at 1 p.m., where the winner will get an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. The Bears, who became the first No. 6 seed in league history to advance to the A-Sun Championship, defeated second-seeded ETSU, 1-0, in the first semifinal game of the day.
Wacker got the Eagles on the board in the 50th minute, while Petracco netted the eventual game-winner at the 55:13 mark. Petracco also assisted on the first goal to help the Green and Blue improve to 13-4-2 on the season.
An evenly-played first half saw neither team surrender any close scoring chances. A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year Stephanie Powers’ (Seffner, Fla./Armwood HS) was forced to make a diving save to her left on a UNF free kick off the right side of the goal box in the 39th minute to highlight her two-save first half.
UNF keeper Megan Dorsey nearly had to make a leaping save as time expired in the first half, but senior Olivia Elias’ (Coral Springs, Fla./American Heritage-Delray HS) shot from 25 yards was just high. Both semifinal games on the day were scoreless at the half.
FGCU came out firing in the second half and after narrowly missing a couple scoring chances, it finally connected for a goal at the 49:40 mark. Petracco played a ball over the last UNF defender that left Wacker one-on-one with the goalie as she slipped a ball into the right side of the net for the 1-0 lead. The goal was the second of the season for Wacker, who, oddly enough, scored her first in the A-Sun opener against UNF.
Just five minutes and 33 seconds later, Petracco struck again, this time scoring a goal to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead. Dorsey attempted to clear a ball sent in from the FGCU backline, but the ball glanced back off a defender to Petracco, who poured in her eighth goal of the season at 55:13.
Trailing 2-0, UNF, who defeated fourth-seeded Belmont in the quarterfinals, refused to go away as it drew to within one, 2-1, at the 80:09 mark on freshman Katie Schafer’s goal from the right side of the goal box. Schafer’s goal was her second of the season, as the first came in last week’s win at Belmont.
FGCU was able fend off a late surge from the Ospreys over the final 10 minutes thanks to a pair of nice saves from Powers, who earned her 41st career win in net.
The Eagles held a slight 11-9 edge in shots, but was shutout in corner kicks. Dorsey made four saves in net for UNF as it finished its season with a 9-10-2 overall mark.
Tickets for Sunday’s championship game can be purchased in-person at the FGCU Ticket Office or by calling 239-590-7145. Tickets will also be on sale at the gate starting one-hour prior to kick-off, but only cash is accepted. Reminder this is a postseason tournament, tickets for all attendees (including faculty and staff) are $6 for adults $3 for children. Groups of 10 or more receive a 50% discount.
A-Sun TV, live audio, live stats and in-game Twitter updates (@FGCUEagles & @AtlanticSun), box scores and recaps will be available at www.FGCUAthletics.com.