FORT MYERS, Fla. – For the second straight year the Atlantic Sun Tournament will come to Southwest Florida, as freshman Ally Kasun’s (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield HS) goal in the 56th minute led the FGCU women’s soccer team to its third straight A-Sun regular season crown with a 1-0 win over previously first place Mercer on the final day of regular season play at the FGCU Soccer Complex.
With its home A-Sun unbeaten streak now at 20 games (17-0-3), FGCU (12-3-3) finishes off its three-peat of regular season titles with a 7-1-1 league mark that is good for 22 points, two ahead of the Bears (6-1-2) who will be the No. 2 seed in the postseason. FGCU and Mercer receive byes through the quarterfinals as result of being the top two seeds.
The Eagles played host to the A-Sun Tournament semifinals and championship last year, and went on to earn the league’s automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament with a double-overtime win against Mercer. The semifinals will be played on Friday, Nov. 2 with top-seeded FGCU taking on the winner of fourth-seeded ETSU (6-3-0) and fifth-seeded Jacksonville (5-2-2). The other semifinal matchup will feature second-seeded Mercer against the winner of third-seeded Kennesaw State (6-2-1) and sixth-seeded UNF (5-3-1).
The A-Sun Championship game will be held on Sunday, Nov. 4 at the FGCU Soccer Complex. Ticket information, live stats, video links and more is currently available at www.ATLANTICSUN.org.
Over its current three-year run as A-Sun regular season champs, FGCU has posted a 22-2-4 record in league play.
“It feels good and I’m pleased with the outcome,” said head coach Jim Blankenship, who has guided FGCU to a remarkable 69-28-13 record in six years of the program’s existence - all of which have come in Division I. “I’m proud of how we played today. Mercer is a very good team and we were able to get a goal and then held on for the victory.”
On a free kick in the 56th minute, sophomore Melissa Arnold (Sicklerville, N.J./Timber Creek Regional HS) played the ball to the far post to junior Kayley Clay (Cape Coral, Fla./Lynn), who found senior Ashley Ciesielczyk (Oregon, Ohio/Clay HS) pushed up from her left defensive back position. Ciesielczyk redirected the ball to Kasun, who was able to slip the ball past the keeper with a shot to the lower left corner. The goal was Kasun’s sixth of the year, but her first of the game-winner variety.
Just like its done all year, the FGCU defense turned in a stout performance en route to its ninth shutout of the year. Freshman keeper Brittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS) was excellent in goal, stopping eight shots in her league-leading seventh shutout.
The assist on the game-winner was Ciesielczyk’s 28th of her career, which lengthens her program record and puts her into a tie for seventh all-time in A-Sun history. The assist for Clay was her ninth this season and gives her 15 points, which is good for fourth on the team.
Atlantic Sun Tournament Seeding
1. FCGU (12-3-3, 7-1-1 A-Sun)
2. Mercer (12-4-3, 6-1-2 A-Sun)
3. Kennesaw St. (10-7-1, 6-2-1 A-Sun)
4. ETSU (12-5-0, 6-3-0 A-Sun)
5. Jacksonville (8-6-3, 5-2-2 A-Sun)
6. North Florida (7-9-2, 5-3-1 A-Sun)