FORT MYERS, Fla. – A first-minute goal by senior Kayley Clay set the tone for the afternoon as the FGCU women’s soccer team went on to score four first-half goals Sunday in its home opener at the FGCU Soccer Complex en route to a 5-0 shutout of visiting Albany University.
Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) tallied her goal just 53 seconds in, while goals followed from Ali Rogers (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast HS) in the 25th minute, Meghan Hayden (Greenwich, Conn./Greenwich HS) in the 40th minute and Tessa Berger (Mahurangi East, New Zealand/Epsom Girls Grammar) just 18 seconds before the halftime break. The lone second-half tally came off the right foot of Tabby Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) in the 63rd minute.
“It was our home opener, so I’m really pleased with our performance,” head coach Jim Blankenship said. “You can’t ask for a better start than to score in the first minute. The Dirty Birds were out in great numbers, and I’m really proud of the energy they brought to the stadium. Our girls kind of fed off that and got the early goal, which is what you always hope at home.”
Clay, who scored off a left-footed volley, had the ball headed on to her near the top of the box by Ally Kasun (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield HS). The play originated from the far left win by Julia Roddar (Falun, Sweden/Wisconsin), who sent the initial ball into the center of the pitch onto the head of Kasun, the Preseason Atlantic Sun Player of the Year.
Later in the half, Roddar set up FGCU’s second goal of the contest, once again with a great ball from the left side of the field, and once again onto the head of an FGCU forward. This time the junior found Rogers inside the box, and the redshirt freshman headed home her first goal of the season into the right netting of the goal.
The Green and Blue added a third goal of the opening stanza when Hayden – who had entered as a sub just minutes earlier – received a pass from Ashley Parks (Wildwood, Mo. Lafayette HS) at the top of the box. She took one dribble to her right and beat keeper Dani Britt to her right for her first tally of the campaign. The goal came about after a physical play in the Albany end of the pitch, which resulted in a Great Danes turnover and subsequent FGCU counter.
After scoring in the first minute of the half, the two-time defending A-Sun champions also scored in the final minute of the half when Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) took a perfect corner kick onto the far post, where Berger headed home her first collegiate goal. The corner was set up off a shot by Hayden, which deflected off an Albany defender.
FGCU added a fifth goal midway through the second half when Tindell ran on to a long ball from the backline by Emma Blackwell (Jenks, Okla./Jenks HS). Tindell beat a charging Albany keeper to the ball and fired it into an empty net for the fifth FGCU goal of the contest, representing the most goals the Eagles have scored against a non-conference Division I opponent since Aug. 29, 2010, when they defeated Delaware State, 6-0.
More than 600 fans were in attendance on a hot Sunday afternoon, led by a raucous Dirty Birds section as FGCU unveiled its 2012 A-Sun Championship banner and rebounded from a season-opening loss at No. 9 Florida Friday night. Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS) got the start in net and made six saves for her first shutout of the year.
FGCU controlled the majority of the game, out-shooting Albany, 20-6, and attempting three times as many corners, 6-2. The 20 shots were pretty evenly distributed as 12 different Eagles attempted at least one shot, while they put eight on frame – all eight coming from eight different players.
The Eagles return to action next weekend when they host the 7th Annual Embassy Suites Classic Aug. 30-Sept.1. The four-team classic features FGCU, Florida Atlantic University, Davidson and Mississippi State. The Eagles will play Davidson at 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, before concluding the weekend against Mississippi State on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m.
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.