FORT MYERS, Fla. – Cape Coral native Holly Fritz's second goal of the match in the 80th minute finished off a dramatic 3-2 victory over Liberty Sunday afternoon. The Eagles (5-1) led 2-1 heading into the break before the Lady Flames (1-3-2) leveled matters in the 77th minute. Fritz completed her brace almost three minutes later to send FGCU to its fourth-straight win.
"We knew going in this was going to be a tough weekend," said head coach Jim Blankenship. "All three of these programs are traditionally good programs and that's what we expected and it lived up to the billing. We played very well, we just gave up one chance at the end of the half and the girl hits an unbelievable goal. That changed the whole game. I like the way our girls responded though, finding a great goal at the end of the game."
Fritz (Cape Coral, Fla./Mariner HS/Florida State) made an enormous impact in her first weekend back home in Southwest Florida. After tallying an assist in Friday's opener, the Florida State transfer found the back of the net twice following Marjorie Boilesen's (Sao Paulo, Brazil/Porto Seguro/West Florida) world-class free kick that opened the scoring in the match. Between Fritz's second and third goal, Liberty scored twice to bring the match level.
Following the match, Fritz, Boilsesen and Melissa Weck (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) were named to the All-Tournament Team with Fritz earning MVP honors. Earlier in the day, Kent State defeated FAU 1-0.
FGCU immediately went on the front foot, earning a dangerous set piece in the third minute before Hope Van Wagner (Avon, Ind./Avon HS) sent Varin Ness (Sogndal, Norway/Sogndal Vidaregåande Skule/Carson Newman) behind the Lady Flames defense with a simple flick. Ness beat her mark, cut back toward the middle and sent a shot across goal for a goal kick.
Despite a scintillating attack, Liberty almost scored first after 16 minutes but the referee whistled for a handball as the reigning Big South Champions celebrated. Three minutes later, Boilesen was brought down just outside the box and took the free kick herself. The Brazilian struck the ball masterfully, curling the ball around the wall and into the upper-90. Her set piece goal was the fifth of the season and fourth in three games.
FGCU continued to press forward as Nikki Hudson (Baltimore, Md./Roland Park County School/Rutgers) sent FGCU on the counter, winning the ball near the Eagles' defensive third. Hudson picked out Ness making a run toward the corner flag. The Norwegian was first to the ball and found Meaghan Mulligan (Freehold, N.J./Colts Neck High School/Tennessee) making a run up the field. The New Jersey native served a great ball into the box, finding Fritz who headed her first collegiate goal past Melody Jayroe.
The Green and Blue had three chances to increase the advantage, all within five minutes. The first came in the 29th minute when Fritz took a free kick 30 yards from goal. Her service was put into a dangerous area but no one wearing white was able to direct it toward the goal. One minute later, FGCU earned a corner that Camille Knudstrup (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins HS) headed toward goal but it was saved.
Emilie Olsen (Frekhaug, Norway/Tertnes VGS) was introduced and found space on the left side of the field. The sophomore cut back toward the middle and struck the ball clean but it went over the bar.
Liberty's Abigail Persson brought Liberty within one with a tremendous strike that beat Weck, sending the game into the half 2-1 in favor of the home side.
Weck was much busier in the second half, producing four saves in the final 45 minutes. Liberty put FGCU on its heels, recording two saves within the first 18 minutes. During that span, Knudstrup picked out Ness who was alone with the goalkeeper, but Jayroe came off her line quickly to cut down the angle and deny Ness.
In the 77th minute, it was Liberty that took advantage of a free kick, tying the match with another great take.
Within seconds, FGCU went on the attack. Boilesen was immediately fouled upon the match restarting and on the ensuing free kick, the ball ended up in the back of the net only for the referee to negate a goal for the second time.
Another free kick two minutes later produced Fritz's winning moment. Knudstrup's service was cleared away shortly before Lindsey Patton (Jacksonville, Fla./Oakleaf HS) sent it back into the box. Fritz won the first, won the ball back and volleyed home her second of the afternoon.
Not long after she scored her second, Fritz nearly caught Liberty sleeping. Fritz won the ball back and sent a long-range effort over the bar that would have beat the goalkeeper.
From that point, FGCU relied on its defense. Weck was needed one final time, producing her best save of the match to keep Lissi Gordon off the board.
The Eagles closed out the match to secure its fourth-straight win, marking the first time since 2008 FGCU has started the year 5-1.
Holly Fritz - FGCU (MVP)
Marjorie Boilesen - FGCU
Melissa Weck - FGCU
Gabrielle Farrell - Liberty
Abigail Persson - Liberty
Sierra Lam - Liberty
Paige Culver - Kent State
Donavan Capehart - Kent State
Cameron Shendenhelm - Kent State
Jessica Monteiro - FAU
Ebba Blomqvist - FAU