FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU women's soccer program looks to continue its impressive run over the past six seasons with another challenging schedule for the 2016 campaign. Of the scheduled 18 opponents four reside in a Power 5 conference and seven finished 2015 in the RPI Top 100.
Highlighted by previously released opponents North Carolina and Ohio State, the Green and Blue will also face Power 5 opponents Alabama and Miami. In addition, the Eagles will meet NCAA Tournament participants UCF (RPI: 27), Liberty (RPI: 56), and Fairleigh Dickinson (RPI: 89).
The schedule features 11 home matches including UNC, Ohio State, Alabama, UCF and FDU, testing FGCU's all-time home record of 61-15-10, including a 33-4-2 mark over the past four seasons.
"I'm excited for the season and our outstanding schedule," said FGCU head coach Jim Blankenship. "We have a great blend of talent and expect the fall to be filled with incredible opportunities for our team. The group has always been proud of their achievements and I believe they will represent us well in 2016."
Tickets for individual matches remain at $7 for adults and $5 for youth and military. An All Sports Pass is again available at $100, which gives fans admission to all ticketed FGCU home regular season events, excluding men's and women's basketball. Group rates are also available for matches. For more information, please call the FGCU Ticket Office at 239-590-7145. Tickets can also be purchased at FGCUTickets.com.
As a reminder, a special group rate for both North Carolina and Ohio State is also available at $10 for groups of 10 or more which includes a t-shirt along with admission to the match. A weekend pass is also available for groups of 10 or more at $15 which includes admission to both matches as well as a shirt.
Fans can easily download the complete schedule directly to their smartphone and calendar on any tablet for free by clicking here or visiting the schedule online and then hitting "subscribe" on the top-right corner of the page. If fans are viewing on a mobile device, they can easily subscribe by hitting Menu, Sports, All Schedules and selecting 2016 women's soccer. Additionally, a PDF document is also attached for fans to easily save and print the schedule in a user-friendly format.
The Green and Blue continued to achieve new levels of success in 2015, winning their sixth-straight Atlantic Sun Regular Season Championship and their second consecutive ASUN Tournament, fourth overall. With the tournament win FGCU received the automatic bid for the 2016 NCAA Tournament and faced USF in the First Round. Behind two converted penalty kicks, the Eagles earned their first postseason victory, advancing to play No. 3 Duke. The Eagles fell 2-0 to the eventual national runner-up and finished the season No. 23 in the final rankings.
The campaign officially opens with a trip to the West Coast to meet with San Francisco and UC-Davis, each for the first time, in The City by the Bay. The Eagles face San Francisco (RPI: 73) to begin the year Aug. 19, a team coming off of a program-best 13-win season. The Dons narrowly missed out on the NCAA Tournament, finishing West Coast Conference play in second behind BYU.
Two days later, FGCU squares off against UC-Davis (RPI: 102) in San Francisco. The Aggies finished 2015 10-7-2 but fell short of qualifying for the Big West Tournament. The 10 wins marked the second-most in the history of the program.
FGCU then returns home for two marquee matchups. Already announced, the Eagles meet North Carolina (Aug. 26) and Ohio State (Aug. 28) to open the home schedule. The Tar Heels (RPI: 15) ended the year 15-5-1, losing to Texas A&M in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament. The 22-time National Champions could become to highest ranked opponent to visit Fort Myers and the first since No. 12 UCF in 2012.
The early season gauntlet continues when the Eagles and Buckeyes meet to cap an historic weekend. The home-opening weekend could see two ranked opponents visit Southwest Florida, a first in the history of the program. The Buckeyes run at a national title ended with a 4-0 loss to Penn State, the eventual National Champions. Ohio State won 13 matches last season and concluded the season positioned No. 21 in the final RPI.
A run of four matches at home concludes with FGCU facing FIU and Alabama at the beginning of Sept. On Sept. 1, FGCU meets in-state foe FIU, having won each of the previous five matches against the Panthers.
The Green and Blue then turn their attention to Alabama, the third Power 5 opponent in three weeks. The Crimson Tide have sent five players to the professional ranks in recent years, and return a tested squad in 2016 after facing five NCAA Tournament opponents in conference play alone.
FGCU's lone home loss in 2015 was a 1-0 decision against Miami and the Eagles will have a chance for revenge on Sept. 8 when they travel to Coral Gables. FGCU is 1-4 against the Hurricanes, with the lone win coming in 2011 in Coral Gables.
In the final run-up to the start of conference play, FGCU sees two more NCAA Tournament experienced squads, one at home and one on the road. Sunday, Sept. 11 features FGCU and UCF meeting at the FGCU Soccer Complex. While the Eagles are winless all-time against the Knights and the two sides have not met since 2013, FGCU did defeat UCF in an exhibition last season. The Knights went 12-7-1 last season, falling to William & Mary in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament.
The lone road opponent in the final tune-up sends FGCU to Lynchburg, Va. for a match against Liberty. The Flames stumbled to a 2-5-1 start before winning 11 of their final 13 matches to win the Big South Conference title for the fifth time. Liberty met North Carolina in the opening round, dropping a 3-0 decision to the Tar Heels to conclude the year.
The Eagles return home for a five-match stretch all at The Nest. The season-long span of matches begins with a contest opposite St. Bonaventure on Sept. 18. The Eagles face the Bonnies for the first time, with the visitors coming off of a 6-11-2 season.
The quest for a seventh-consecutive ASUN crown begins Sept. 23 against Stetson. The Green and Blue have not lost a home ASUN regular season home match since 2009 and look to continue that trend in 2016. Last season the Eagles claimed a 6-1 win over the Hatters in DeLand before defeating Stetson again in the ASUN Tournament, 5-0. FGCU is 9-1 all-time against Stetson.
The final non-conference match bring Fairleigh Dickinson to Fort Myers. The Knights used a 12-match winning streak to make the NCAA Tournament and rise to No. 89 in the final RPI. That winning streak came to an end with a 1-0 loss to Rutgers to open the NCAA Tournament.
Sept. comes to a close with a match at USC Upstate, a team FGCU has never lost to. The Eagles are 8-0-1 against the Spartans, having never allowed a goal. Last season, FGCU defeated Upstate 5-0 in Fort Myers.
The home stand ends with NJIT's first visit to Southwest Florida Oct. 2. In the only previous meeting with the ASUN's newest member, FGCU won 6-0 in Newark.
The Eagles hit the road for the first time in nearly a month with two ASUN contests. First up on the weekend is a match at Kennesaw State (Oct. 7). FGCU relied on a late goal to defeat Kennesaw State and improve to 7-1-2 all-time against the Owls.
In a rematch of the ASUN Championship, the Eagles then travel to Nashville to meet Lipscomb Oct. 9. The Eagles claimed two wins over the Bisons last season including a 5-0 win to book their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. With the pair of wins, FGCU moved to 8-0-2 against Lipscomb.
The home finale is slated for Oct. 15 against Jacksonville. The Dolphins have had the most success against the Eagles, as FGCU is 3-2-6 against the Dolphins. While FGCU hasn't lost to Jacksonville since 2008, the Eagles have been held to two ties in the past three matches.
FGCU concludes the regular season at UNF Oct. 22. FGCU's lone loss came in 2012 in Jacksonville, but have since won three-straight, outscoring UNF 8-0 in that time. Overall, the Eagles are 8-1-1 including a 2-0 win last season.
The ASUN Women's Soccer Championships begin Oct. 29 with the semifinals and finals scheduled for Nov. 4 and Nov. 6 respectively. The higher seed will host each of the matches. The Eagles have emerged victorious in each of the last two tournaments.