FGCU is quick to peg itself as a basketball school. With the mark as the only No. 15 seed to advance to the Sweet Sixteen in men’s basketball, three women’s conference championships. We even have an ESPY. I mean, how could you not try?
FGCU is not a basketball school. We are a soccer school. FGCU’s soccer programs are quickly becoming consistent, playing among the nation’s top-tier teams. Both FGCU programs typically reign as one of the top teams in the conference, dominating the Atlantic Sun with a total of 12 regular season titles and seven conference championships between the two teams.
Following the women’s long-overdue first-ever NCAA win this season, FGCU held No. 3-seeded and College Cup runner-up Duke scoreless for the first 64 minutes of the second round game before giving up two unanswered goals.
Duke defeated Florida the next week to reach its third College Cup Final Four appearance, and fell to Penn State, 1-0 in its second-ever appearance in the championship match. In an August exhibition game, FGCU defeated the Gators, 1-0, in Gainesville.
We’re located in the hot, humid, bug-infested Florida swamps, and we know how to use it to our advantage. FGCU women’s soccer is all-time 61-15-10 at home since 2007, while men’s soccer is 40-19-10 all-time at home since 2007, drawing with top teams such as No. 3 Georgetown this season, Portland and Akron last season.
Despite falling to USC Upstate in the A-Sun semifinals, the FGCU men finished this season with a 7-4-3 overall record and an RPI of 31 and No. 22 ranking, achieving a season-high RPI of 14 and ranking of No. 19.
After its loss to Duke, FGCU moved up in TopDrawerSoccer’s national rankings last week from No. 24 to No. 23, and maintained its position this week. The FGCU women finished the season with an RPI of 74, earning a 14-6-2 overall record, 6-0-1 in the A-Sun.
Statistical leader, record holder, and scoring machine, Tabby Tindell is ranked among the top players in the nation, coming in at No. 4 in the nation for points per game (2.20), tied for No. 4 for total points this season with 44, and tied at No. 7 for total goals with 17 this season. Recent alumnae Shannen Wacker and Julia Roddar are also playing professional soccer overseas in Europe.
FGCU midfielder Rodrigo Saravia spent his summer playing with the Guatemala U-23 National Team in preparation for the upcoming Olympic qualifying matches. Striker Dylan Sacramento is also a former member of the Canadian U-18 National Team and represented Canada in the 2013 COTIF U-20 Tournament in Spain. Former FGCU defender Daniel Stanese, who was with FGCU for his freshman campaign, signed with Germany’s top-tier Bundesliga for FC Nuremberg. This summer, Stanese transferred within the league to FC Augsburg where he has spent the past two seasons.
Soccer’s popularity in the United States is on the rise, and FGCU’s chance to build more popularity on its success is now.
According to a 2014 ESPN Sports Poll, which surveyed more than 400,000 people, professional soccer ranked as the No. 2 sport, behind pro football, among 12 to 17 year olds. The survey also concluded that Major League Soccer, America’s professional soccer league, is just as popular as Major League Baseball among the same age group.
The MLS is adding more teams to its league and looking to add more, including the recently added Atlanta United, which will begin playing in 2017, and the possibility of a new team in Miami to compliment the recently joined Orlando City team. This summer’s women’s soccer World Cup final game between the United States and Japan drew record-breaking ratings with 26.7 million U.S. viewers.
We love basketball in Southwest Florida, and our basketball teams are great, but it’s time to recognize the consistent talent that we have at FGCU: Soccer.