FORT MYERS, Fla. – A sophomore slump does not appear to be on the horizon for Co-Atlantic Sun Preseason Player of the Year Tabby Tindell who put two goals on the board on Sunday afternoon to guide the FGCU women’s soccer team (1-0) to a 2-1 victory over Pac-12 foe Arizona (1-1) in its season opener.
The Eagles were fresh after rain delayed the start of their season on Friday night when the Green and Blue were set to take on nationally ranked UCF. Sophomore Tabby Tindell (Ocala, Fla./Trinity Catholic HS) picked up right where she left off at the end of the 2013 season, scoring the first goal of 2014 and 16th of her young career in the 19th in minute. Arizona would tie the score early in the second half but it was Tindell who took a brilliant service from Shannen Wacker (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa HS) in the 72nd minute, drove down the middle of the field, made a quick move in the box and beat the keeper for the eventual game-winning goal.
“Phenomenal result,” head coach Jim Blankenship added. “It was everything that you want to start the season; a good opponent who won their first game and it’s a team that’s very much respected with a very good coach. For our guys to come out here and get the result is fantastic … Tabby picked up right where she left off. She was phenomenal. She stood out in the match every time she touched it.”
Tindell would register the first great scoring chance of the season in the eighth minute as she drove across the box but had her shot blocked by a sliding defender. Paulina Speckmaier (Miami, Fla./Gulliver Prep)generated a chance on the rebound but the Arizona goalkeeper was there for the stop. FGCU would pick up two more shots before a Wildcat foul led to Tindell receiving a service at the top of the box that she dribbled to her right, beat her defender then fired her shot low to the far post and past the goalkeeper to give FGCU a 1-0 lead.
Arizona registered its first shot in the 29th minute and finally forced A-Sun Preseason Goalkeeper of the YearBrittany Brown (Rochester, N.Y./Greece Athena HS) to make a save in the 36th minute. Brown went on to make eight saves, the second most in a single game in her career (9 vs. Florida – Nov. 9, 2012).
In the second half Arizona applied pressure on the FGCU defense early, scoring to tie the game on the first shot of the half. The next two shots would come from Wildcats as well and the Eagles were unable to muster a chance until the 61st minute when Ally Kasun (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield HS) took a rolling ball at the top of the box and fired a shot to no avail.
Arizona had perhaps its best chance to take the lead in the 68th minute when the ball traveled into the box and neither team was able to gather it effectively. It was Wildcat Alexandra Doller who finally settled the ball at her feet and directed it on goal but Brown was there to make a spectacular one-handed stop as she dove to her left. Shea Rhoney (Lithia, Fla./Newsome HS) then stepped in front and cleared the ball, ending the threat.
In the 69th minute, Wacker got lose on the left side but her chance was spoiled by another blocked shot in the box. Just two minutes later however it was Wacker setting up Tindell with a back-heel flip off of a Brown goal kick allowing the Ocala native to run down the middle of the field and net the game-winner. FGCU would weather one final storm from Arizona in the closing seconds to secure the season-opening 2-1 victory.
By the end of the game FGCU would be outshot by Arizona 15-14, marking the first time since Nov. 2, 2012 that the Eagles were outshot and won. The Green and Blue defeated Jacksonville 2-0 on that day. Speckmaier (4) and Kasun (2) were the only Eagles other than Tindell (4) to attempt multiple shots in the game. Freshman Lauren Greene (Lakeland, Fla./George Jenkins HS), sophomore transfer Paige Law (Sanibel Island, Fla./Bishop Verot HS), and sophomore Lauren Knight (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon Township HS)all made their FGCU debuts on Sunday afternoon logging a total of 26 minutes of game action.
FGCU hits the road for the first time in 2014 with a trip to Coral Gables, Fla. for a date with the Miami Hurricanes on Aug. 29. Miami closed last season with a 9-8-1 record and did not qualify for the ACC Tournament. These two programs have met three times; most recently in 2011 and FGCU has yet to claim a result.
From Miami the Eagles will travel to Tampa, Fla. to square off with USF for the first time in the regular season on Aug. 31. These two programs have met several times in exhibition fashion but never in the regular season. The Bulls closed out 2013 with a 10-4-7 record and a double-overtime, penalty kick loss to UCF in the semifinals of the American Conference Tournament.
For constant, news, photos, videos and updates you can follow the women’s soccer team on Twitter @FGCU_WSoccer, on Instagram @FGCU_WSoc or on Facebook: Facebook.com/FGCUWSoccer. You can also find FGCU athletics on YouTube by visiting YouTube.com/FGCUEagles.
Single-game tickets for FGCU Women’s Soccer are available at a cost of $6 for adults and $3 for groups of ten (10) or more. Season tickets are also available. For more ticket information and additional deals, visit FGCUathletics.com/tickets, call or visit the ticket office at 239-590-7145.