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FGCU falls to Auburn in first round of NCAA tournament

FGCU senior Shannen Wacker battles for the ball during the Eagles' game against Auburn during the first round of the NCAA tournament at the FGCU Soccer Complex. (EN Photo / Kelli Krebs)

FGCU senior Shannen Wacker battles for the ball during the Eagles’ game against Auburn during the first round of the NCAA tournament at the FGCU Soccer Complex. (EN Photo / Kelli Krebs)

The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s soccer team already made history with a third appearance in the NCAA tournament. For the first time in both FGCU’s and the Atlantic Sun’s women’s soccer conference, the university hosted a round in the NCAA tournament when Auburn traveled to Fort Myers to face the Eagles Saturday, Nov. 15. In a record-breaking season, FGCU women’s soccer broke another record with 2,014 fans showing up for the game. Until Saturday’s game, the Eagles hadn’t lost a match since Sept. 14.Unfortunately, the Eagles were unable to convert the game into the round of 32, losing 1-0 to the Tigers.

“I’m very proud of our team and the season that it had,” Coach Jim Blankenship said. “We had 17 wins. I’m very proud of group and what they started here and built here. I’m very pleased with their effort. We had a rough start and a few good chances. Credit to them [Auburn], they weathered the storm. The keeper made two huge saves when they needed it most. For us it’s about blazing a trail and getting our feet wet.”

An early Auburn goal during the 10th minute of play remained the only point on the board for the entirety of the game. During the 19th minute of play, A-Sun Player of the Year Tabby Tindell pulled up and left the game with an injury. The remainder of the match didn’t see Tindell return. After the injury, the Eagles lost the wind in their sails. They looked flat during the first half, nothing like the team that played in the A-Sun championship. At the half the shots were 4-1 in favor of the Tigers.

The Eagles came back strong in the second half. FGCU was aggressive and continued to take the ball to the Tigers’ side. FGCU had five corner kicks in the second half and some decent chances. The Eagles evened the shots 6-6 by the end of the match. Auburn keeper Alyse Scott dove and slid for some major saves against FGCU. As the clock ticked down, Ashley Parks carried the ball toward the box. Scott slid and cut her off at the feet as the time keeper counted down the final seconds.

“Our kids have done an unbelievable job building in the community,” Blankenship said. “We’ll be back at these events. This is the expectation for us. We talked about taking it to the next level after last year’s disappointing set back. We used that to motivate us. These kids know what it takes and are willing to pay the price.”

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