FGCU soccer players making their break into the professional world
Riding on the coattail of former FGCU defender and 2015 Atlantic Sun Conference Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Guillen signing with FC Dallas, an American Major League Soccer team, four other 2015 seniors are setting up professional careers.
Coming off the team’s most successful season to date, FGCU women’s soccer standouts Brittany Brown, Emma Blackwell and Ally Kasun were announced to be in the pool for the upcoming National Women’s Soccer League draft on Friday, Jan. 15.
The National Women’s Soccer League, the country’s highest-tier of women’s soccer, consists of nine teams across the country: the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, Houston Dash, FC Kansas City, Portland Thorns, Seattle Reign FC, Blue Sky FC, Washington Spirit, Western New York Flash and league newcomer Orlando Pride.
The highly decorated seniors led the program to three NCAA appearances, its first NCAA win, three conference championships and 58 wins. After their final game against College Cup runner-up Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament, all three hold a place in the A-Sun record books tied at sixth in total career games played with 84.
A four-year starting goalkeeper, Brown topped record books, holding the conference record with 36 career shutouts and topping FGCU’s record book with 263 saves, 50 wins and a goals-against average of 0.67.
The Rochester, New York native held a save percentage of .807 and shut out 11 games through 18 games this season. Brown, a biology major, was also recently named to the College Sports Information Directors Association Academic All-District 4 team with a 3.91 GPA.
This season, Blackwell became the first A-Sun player to win back-to-back Defensive Player of The Year honors and has been a member of the postseason All Conference First Team since her sophomore year. Blackwell was also recently named to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America All-Southeast Region Third team in December.
Kasun, who has been named to the All-Conference Team since her freshman year, finished her career with 17 goals and 19 assists, totaling 53 points in her four years.
If Brown, Blackwell and Kasun are drafted into the NWSL, they will join former 2014 teammate Julia Roddar and Shannen Wacker, who are playing for professional teams. Roddar is playing in her native Sweden for Kvarnsvedens IK, a women’s Swedish soccer club competing in the highest division, and Wacker trained with NWSL club FC Kansas City in preseason.
The draft will be held at 10 a.m. Jan. 15. The draft will be held at the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention in Baltimore and will be open to the public.
Saravia doing well in 2016 adidas MLS Combine
The Atlantic Sun Player of the Year is holding his own at the 2016 adidas MLS Combine in Fort Lauderdale this week.
FGCU midfielder Rodrigo Saravia finished in the top-10 in the agility performance category during MLS Combine’s performance testing, tying for eighth place with a 4.20 time in the 5-10-5 shuttle on Saturday, Jan. 9, according to a report released by the MLS.
The MLS Combine showcases the nation’s top collegiate soccer players fighting for a chance to make it to the top tier of American soccer in front of representatives from all 20 MLS clubs in Fort Lauderdale Jan. 7 to 12.
Saravia is in the company of A-Sun teammate Alex Morrell of North Florida, who has also done exceptionally well, placing in all three top-10 categories: third in the 30-meter dash (3.97), tied for seventh in the 5-10-5 shuffle (4.18) and tied for sixth in the vertical jump test (30 inches).
Other top-10 finishers include players from Georgetown, UNC-Wilmington and UCF, which FGCU kept scoreless in their games this season.
According to the MLS, clubs don’t put that much stock in the performance tests as much as a player’s performance in college; however, it does make an impact on how players are ranked entering the SuperDraft.
“We value it,” Jesse Marsch, the head coach of the New York Red Bulls, told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s not like it outweighs other characteristics, but for us, it’s good to know. Seeing how fast a guy is and then how big his tank is from watching him play a little bit — that’s good information.”
A total of 73 players were invited to the combine, though five players did not participate in the 30-meter dash, six in the 5-10-5 shuttle and four in the vertical leap.
The combine, which has lasted from Saturday, Jan. 9 until Jan. 12, will allow MLS coaches to scout players before the 2016 SuperDraft in Baltimore on Jan. 14.