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Eagles try to get back to winning ways at home

The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s soccer team returns home this weekend for a pair of matches at the FGCU Soccer Complex; first welcoming Wofford, which began the season with three consecutive victories before dropping its first game of the season at Coastal Carolina, 0-1 Aug. 31. The following Sunday, the Green and Blue will welcome CSU Bakersfield all the way from Bakersfield, California.

University of South Carolina

The FGCU women’s soccer team fell behind nationally-ranked South Carolina on a bad-luck goal late in the first half and never fully recovered as the Gamecocks were able to shut out the Eagles, 2-0, at Corbett Stadium in the final game of the USF Soccer Classic.

“It was disappointing to give up the goal at the end of the first half,” coach Jim Blankenship said. “We missed an assignment and had an opportunity to clear it but we got caught in a lapse in concentration when all we had to do was clear the ball. We had chances in the second half but we needed to play faster in the attacking third. We had chances to shoot and we were looking to pass.

“Hats off to them they capitalized on our mistakes and that’s what good teams do. It’s a disappointing result but from here we just need to break down tape and learn from this experience going forward.”

Ali Rogers generated the best chance for the Green and Blue in the 38th minute when a ball served through the middle came to her feet just outside the six-yard box. The sophomore used one touch to redirect her shot on net, but USC goalkeeper Sabrina D’Angelo was there to make the clean stop.

As the clock dipped below 30 seconds to play in the opening half, South Carolina carried the ball into the FGCU box and let loose a shot that goalkeeper Brittany Brown dove at and deflected off the crossbar for the initial save. But USC’s Lauren Jankowski moved onto the loose ball and fired it past Brown, who had not yet recovered from her diving stop, to push the Gamecocks ahead 1-0.

The goal would prove to be the final shot of the first half, equalizing the shot total at 5-5.

With 29 minutes remaining in regulation Ally Kasun fed Melissa Arnold on the far corner which led to Arnold serving a long cross to the opposite post where Shannen Wacker managed to put a good head on the ball, but her try would bound just wide of the goal.

In the 81st minute South Carolina carried the ball deep into the FGCU zone and served it across the goal mouth and past Brown, connecting with the head of Savannah McCaskill and caroming into the back of the net to extend the lead to 2-0. FGCU would not mount any further offense in this one as the 2-0 score would hold.

Texas A&M

The game with No. 16 South Carolina was the second-consecutive match for the Green and Blue opposite a Top 20 opponent. On Thursday evening, the Eagles traveled to College Station, Texas to battle No. 12 Texas A&M.

The Eagles lost to Texas A&M, 2-1. The Green and Blue fell behind early, but battled back to tie the score before surrendering an early second-half score that proved enough to secure the result in the Aggies favor.

“I’m really proud of our players and the effort they put forth even though we didn’t get the result we wanted,” Blankenship said. “We got off to a tough start giving up the goal in the fifth minute but I was pleased with the way we settled in and found a way to equalize.

“After being in such an unbelievable environment against such a highly ranked opponent I think we have a chance now to learn and grow as a team. It was a good experience and now it’s time to get better.”

Texas A&M came out of the gates firing and put FGCU behind on the scoreboard in just the fifth minute off of a set piece at the top of the box. Karlie Mueller served a ball across the box and found the head of Meghan Streight who redirected her try past a diving Brown to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead.

The Eagles wasted little time equalizing when in the 14th minute, Wacker stripped the ball away from the Texas A&M defense on the left side of the penalty area and moved across the middle before firing a shot home for her first score of the season. The senior now sits alone in third place on the all-time goals list with 22, just two shy of the program record of 24.

The Eagles would take the tie score into the midpoint break, trailing 14-3 in the shot column. Brown made five saves in the opening frame and would finish the game with eight saves to her credit.

The Aggies wasted no time in the second half regaining the lead when Kelly Monogue took a one-touch pass to the right corner of the six-yard box and fired her shot in the left side of the net, providing the eventual final score of 2-1.

FGCU would muster just a pair of shots in the second frame and closed the game with a 22-5 shot deficit.

The reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Week Tabby Tindell did not register a shot in the game after letting loose 12 over the first five games, scoring six goals.

Along with moving into third on the all-time goals list, Wacker now moves closer to taking over as the all-time points leader. With 59 points in her career, the Colorado native is just nine points shy of tying Lindsay Haw’s record of 68.

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