FORT MYERS, Fla. – It took 88 minutes for the FGCU women's soccer team to break down a stingy NJIT defense, but the Eagles prevailed 1-0 Sunday over the Highlanders. The goal with under two minutes remaining in the match was finished off by Tabby Tindell, the 62nd of her career, setting a new ASUN Conference record. The late winner gave the Eagles (8-4-0, 2-0-0 ASUN) their fifth straight win while the Highlanders (5-6-2, 1-2-0 ASUN) have dropped consecutive conference matches.
"Points are hard to come by and in October every point is crucial," said head coach Jim Blankenship. "There was a little bit of frustration but that's soccer. Teams are going to keep everyone back and this is the first time we've seen it. Credit to them; they did well at the back and the 'keeper made some great saves. There were four shots off the crossbar but again that's soccer."
FGCU totaled 34 shots in the match, the third highest total in program history, but could not convert on any through the first 88 minutes. The Eagles had to fight through a compact NJIT defensive third, multiple highlight-reel saves and four shots that rang off the crossbar during the match to break through late. The Eagles finally got on the board in the 89th minute when Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) tapped in a loose ball in the box with under two minutes left in the match.
The goal put Tindell alone at the top of the ASUN record books, surpassing Shelley Marusak (Centenary, 1993-1995). Tindell previously set the ASUN's points record Friday against USC Upstate.
"Tabby's done that a few times here where the ball just finds her feet when we need her the most," Blankenship added. "She's a complete player. She broke a record that stood for over 20 years and that says a lot. There have been some great players in the history of the ASUN. It says a lot about her, she's the best ever."
FGCU controlled the match from the opening whistle but luck would not be on the Eagles' side from the start. Jamie Finn (Dublin, Ireland/St. Finians Community College) had a shot hit off the crossbar in the ninth minute to keep the match scoreless as FGCU looked to gain control of the scoreboard early. Camille Knudstrup (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins HS) then had a shot from distance saved by Amelia Sapirman to keep the match deadlocked.
Lauren Knight (O'Fallon, Ill./O'Fallon Township HS) entered the match midway through the half and tested Sapirman in the 26th minute but the goalkeeper was up to the task. Despite controlling the tempo and keeping the ball in the attacking third for the bulk of the half, FGCU was unable to tally the match's opening goal.
The second half featured similar frustrations for FGCU. Tindell had her first look at goal in the 61st minute but it was blocked before it could reach the NJIT 'keeper. The senior again found herself in the box but Sapirman kept the Ocala native off the board once again.
Meaghan Mulligan (Freehold, N.J./Colts Neck High School/Tennessee) made a run toward the center of the field and unleashed a shot that appeared destined for goal, only for it to hit off the crossbar.
The match reached a crucial turning point in the 74th minute when Tindell was tripped in the box. Paulina Speckmaier (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep/Florida) stepped to the spot but was denied by Sapirman and had her rebound go well over the bar.
With less than 120 seconds remaining in regulation, FGCU finally found the winner. Mulligan delivered a corner to the far post and Finn headed the service back across goal where Tindell was waiting to simply tap in her 10th goal of the season and 62nd of her career.
Melissa Weck (Yorba Linda, Calif./Esperanza HS) needed only two saves to record her seventh shutout of the season.