GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For 80 minutes Friday night the FGCU women’s soccer team played the University of Florida even, but two late goals by the No. 9 team in the nation propelled the Gators past the Eagles, 3-1, in the season opener for both teams Friday night at James G. Pressly Stadium.
Preseason Atlantic Sun Conference Player of the Year Ally Kasun (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield HS) scored FGCU’s lone goal in the 43rd minute to tie the contest not even 10 minutes after UF had taken a 1-0. The sophomore headed home a corner kick taken by junior Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) on the back post.
That goal avenged an opening strike by the Gators in the 34th minute, and the score remained level until the 80th minute when Savannah Jordan scored the first of her two goals in a six-minute span off a fast restart following an FGCU substitution. Jordan then added an unassisted insurance tally in the 86th minute to cap the scoring.
“It’s a difficult result because it was a 1-1 game with just 10 minutes remaining in a tough environment,” head coach Jim Blankenship said. “But I think we showed that we have the potential be pretty good. The game opened up a little more in the second half and we had a few mistakes and breakdowns that cost us. But overall this is a result we can build off of and just need to work at sustaining quality play for 90 minutes.”
The game served as a rematch of the last two NCAA Tournament First Round appearances by each team, with UF claiming a 3-0 triumph last year and a 2-0 victory in 2011. Florida snapped the Green and Blue’s six-game unbeaten streak at the end of last year, and with Friday’s victory gave the Eagles their first season-opening loss since 2010.
The Gators were tabbed as the preseason favorite to win the SEC, and looked the part for the majority of the night as they finished the evening with a significant shot advantage. FGCU goalkeeper Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS) made six saves, including five in the first half.
FGCU returns to action in its home opener on Sunday at the FGCU Soccer Complex against the University of Albany. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and the Eagles will unveil their 2012 A-Sun Championship banner. Additionally, it is Camper Appreciation Day, and all youth wearing an FGCU camp T-shirt are admitted free. Finally, free freeze pops will be given out to campers and Dirty Bird members in attendance.
2013-14 women’s soccer season tickets are now available by visiting the Alico Arena Ticket Office, calling 239-590-7145 or logging on to FGCUAthletics.com/Tickets. Season tickets are $30 for adults and $15 for youth (ages 3-12). Single-game tickets can also be purchased for $6 per adult and $3 for youth. Groups of 10+ can receive a discounted rate of $3 per person. FGCU students and faculty/staff are admitted for free with a valid University ID.