FGCU women’s soccer ends season undefeated in conference
After 90 minutes of aggressive and defensive play, the chance of Florida Gulf Coast University making program and conference history dwindled down to a 10-minute half of sudden-death overtime.
With a goal, FGCU would earn its first perfect conference regular season. With a tie, FGCU would keep its perfect season intact.
With 49.2 seconds left in the first 10-minute half of overtime, Tabby Tindell, FGCU’S record-smashing sophomore, delivered. Senior Julia Roddar sent a ball in to senior Shannen Wacker who got the chance to send a last-ditch effort pass to Tindell, giving her the opportunity to score. Her golden goal earned her 17th goal of the season, and FGCU an unbeaten conference regular season.
“I saw the ball go across to Julia and I went out wide a little bit. She played a beautiful ball out to Wacker and somehow Wack just got that perfect touch,” Tindell said. “I looked and I was like, ‘is the keeper going to come or going to go?’ Then I said, ‘just go for it,’ and that was it. It was beautifully set up by my team.”
With the win, FGCU finishes its regular season unbeaten in conference for the first time in program history and for the first time since Kennesaw State in 2000, No. 1 in conference with a 15-3 overall record.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Wacker said. “We were able to do something that the program hasn’t done in about 14 years, and that is a great accomplishment. I wouldn’t want to go out on my senior night with any other win.”
Through the 90 minutes of regulation, FGCU out-shot Stetson 25-1, but remained blocked and frustrated behind a wall of Stetson defense and a stand-in goalkeeper. Stetson’s Eduarda Pavao, who is listed on the roster as a midfielder and forward acted as the Hatters’ goalkeeper. Pavao tallied eight saves for the Hatters Saturday night.
“That added to the frustration factor,” Tindell said, “When the keeper isn’t even a real keeper it just makes it that much more annoying, really.”
Along with a stand-in keeper, the teams struggled with fouls and offsides, including an offside call that nullified Wacker’s goal in the first half.
“It was pretty stressful,” Wacker said, “I’m not sure what it was that wasn’t clicking for us, but we finally found that last little spark at the end which was awesome.”
At the last regular season game of the season FGCU also honored six graduating players, Wacker, Roddar, Danielle Leroy, Melissa Arnold, Kaila Browe and Brooke Sill during Senior Night.
“We’re going to do things this season that we’ve never done before,” Wacker said. “I’m excited for the future. I’m excited for what it could bring for us. This is our year.”
The Eagles will take a week off before entering into the A-Sun tournament as the host and No. 1 seed on Nov. 1.
“It’s a huge testament to the team to what we can do,” Tindell said. “Tonight was all about the team, we had the opportunity to do something that hasn’t been done in the conference in years. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re going to work this entire week and hopefully come into the tournament and really prove ourselves.”
Just days after being crowned the 2014 Atlantic Sun regular season champion, the Eagles let new and familiar faces take down Palm Beach Atlantic in a four-goal shut out. The win gave FGCU a small boost before it played the last conference game of the regular season Saturday night against Stetson.
The Eagles outscored, out-shot and out played the PBA Sailfish Wednesday night, totaling 24 shots, four goals and only allowing one shot from PBA.
Senior Julia Roddar, who earned her third career goal, and Emma Blackwell who earned her first goal of her three-year career, added to the Eagles offense. Blackwell earned the second goal of the game from 40 yards out, off of a rocket that went sailing into the top right corner of PBA’s goal.
“It was my first goal of the season, and it was great because my parents are here from Oklahoma they got to see me score,” said Blackwell. “I just got the pass and just took a shot. It kind of felt good when I hit it, once it went in I looked over at my parents and they were really excited, so it felt good.”
The Eagles’ offense began and ended the game with goals from familiar faces. Less than five minutes into the game, FGCU’s Ally Kasun earned her third goal of the season when she chipped one past PBA’s goalkeeper to give the Eagles the early lead. Senior and all time points leader Shannen Wacker finished the game for the Eagles with her sixth goal of the season in the 65th minute.
“It was another night how we discussed how we need to keep our level and never drop to anyone else’s,” Wacker said. “It was a great feeling to know our defense did a great job, every one did their job. We need to keep these teams knowing that that’s where they are and the level we’re at is the level we’re at. We’re not going to let our guard down for anybody.”
With the regular season coming to a close, the team looks towards the highly anticipated A-Sun Tournament.
“Against a team like this, we need to use it to fix the things that we work on in practice,” Kasun said. “A game like this gives you a chance to train and boost your confidence for the tournament.”
The win ties the program’s record for 14 wins in a season with one game remaining in the regular season and breaks the program’s record of longest win streak at 10 games.