FORT MYERS, Fla. – Freshman Ally Kasun’s (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield HS) goal in 93rd minute of overtime gave the top-seeded FGCU women’s soccer team a 1-0 victory over second-seed Mercer in the championship game and its second-straight A-Sun Tournament title Sunday afternoon at the FGCU Soccer Complex. With the win, the Eagles earn an automatic berth into the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
The only unanimous choice to the A-Sun All-Conference first team, Kasun gained control of a loose ball of a blocked shot and ripped a right-footed blast from the middle of the 18 into the upper right corner for the golden goal at the 92:13 mark. Kasun was named the A-Sun Tournament MVP.
In a rematch of last year A-Sun championship game, FGCU’s 1-0 win over Mercer was almost a mirror image of the 2011 outcome. In last year’s title game, the Eagles used a goal by then-freshman Shannen Wacker (Parker, Colo. Ponderosa HS) in the 106th minute to clinch its first-ever NCAA Tournament berth.
“We have five players who have been in the program and have dealt with several different situations, so I give our seniors a ton of credit for taking our young players under their wings and preparing them for this process,” said A-Sun Coach of the Year Jim Blankenship. “It’s huge for Ally because she has been very good for us all year long and she doesn’t play like a freshman and doesn’t act like a freshman. We have talked about her becoming the foundation for us and taking on responsibilities of leadership. These are important moments for Ally to step up and bury the goal in this fashion.”
Joining Kasun on the All-Tournament team was freshman Emma Blackwell (Jenks, Okla./Jenks HS) and seniors Danielle Faller (Elizabethtown, Pa./Elizabethtown Area HS) and Ashley Ciesielczyk (Oregon, Ohio/Clay HS). In its two A-Sun Tournament appearances since becoming postseason eligible, FGCU is 4-0 in the conference tournament with three-straight shutouts.
The win helped extend the Eagles 22-game home unbeaten against A-Sun opponents (19-0-3) that includes postseason play, and helped FGCU become the first team since UCF (2001-03) to win back-to-back A-Sun Tournament championships and the first team to win two-straight tournament championships as the host since UCF did in 1998 and 1999.The win also helps the Eagles tie the record for the most wins (14) in a season with last year’s team (14-5-2).
FGCU finished with a 15-9 edge in shots, forcing the nation’s leader in goals against average (0.24) Maggie Cropp to make eight saves. Fellow freshman keeper Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS) made three saves for FGCU, adding to her league-best shutout total (9).
The Eagles will hold a NCAA Selection Show party on Monday beginning at 4 p.m. at Naples Flatbread in the Miromar Outlets. The NCAA will announce its 2012 College Cup pairings and first round sites on NCAA.com at 4:30 p.m.
Tournament MVP Ally Kasun – FGCU
Martha Tracey – UNF
Kathryn Husted – UNF
Arianne Heaton – Jacksonville
Becca Massip – Jacksonville
Patricia Ann-Upson – Mercer
Rachel Buffalo – Mercer
Maggie Cropp – Mercer
Emma Blackwell – FGCU
Danielle Faller – FGCU
Ashley Ciesielczyk – FGCU