Senior Day bittersweet for two seniors
The Florida Gulf Coast University women’s soccer team earned two more conference wins over the weekend, bringing their record to 10-3-2 for the season (5-0-1 in the Atlantic Sun Conference).
On Friday, Oct. 11, the Eagles took on the East Tennessee State University Bucs. During the first half, the teams battled on the pitch until the 37th minute of play, when ETSU player Hannah Short shot one past FGCU goal keeper Brittany Brown. The Eagles wouldn’t stay behind for long. Not even four minutes later, Emma Blackwell shot a deep goal from 45 yards out to put one in over the Bucs’ keeper and tie the game for the Green and Blue to end the first half.
The second half remained tied until the 77th minute, when Paulina Speckmaier’s attempted shot was blocked by a defender’s hand, giving the Eagles a penalty kick. Speckmaier made the best out of the opportunity and scored on the PK, bringing the Green and Blue up 2-1 over ETSU to finish the match.
On Sunday, Oct. 13, FGCU honored Kayley Clay and Casey Towne for Senior Day at the FGCU Soccer Complex. Casey Towne suffered a career-ending knee injury in her first year and never saw play on the pitch until Sunday but has been a lifeline of support for the team and its coaches. Clay has seen action in all 57 games since she’s been at FGCU and has had 55 consecutive starts.
“Ever since I transferred here from Lynn three years ago, it’s been amazing. I’ve been given a great opportunity and have enjoyed it every step of the way.” Clay said. “Saying goodbye is going to be bittersweet. It’s going to be really sad and I’ll miss it a lot. But it’s time for me to move on in my career. I’ll be back to visit.”
Sunday afternoon against the University of South Carolina Upstate Spartans saw the Eagles score a season record-breaking seven goals. Tabby Tindell was first to get on the board for FGCU during the 11th minute of play. While the Spartans scrambled to come back and tie up the game, the Eagles offense kept at them and continued to play at their end of the pitch. Shannen Wacker scored two goals back-to-back during the 23nd and 27th minutes with assists from Paulina Speckmaier and Shea Rhonney. Closing out the first half with a fourth goal for the Green and Blue was Ashley Parks during the 37th minute with an assist from Ally Kasun. The Eagles put up 14 shots during the first half and the Spartans didn’t gain a single shot against FGCU.
“It’s been really exciting. It’s great that we’re doing so well in our conference and hopefully we just keep getting better with every game,” Tindell said. “We’re always working on switching the point of attack and it’s working out for us. We continue to progress and keep getting better.”
When the second half got underway, the Eagles were flying high. Honored senior Clay earned an unassisted goal for the Green and Blue during the 68th minute. FGCU gave goal keeper Emily Dolan some time on the pitch today bringing her in for Brown during the 68th minute. Tindell got her second goal of the day with assists from Yazmin Velez and Ally Kasun during the 75th minute. With the Eagles now leading 6-0, they were just riding out the clock until the horn sounded and they locked in another win for the conference. But with three minutes left on the clock, senior Towne was ready to get some action on the pitch for the first time. After she went into the game, her teammates were doing everything they could to get her the ball. With 37 seconds left on the clock, Towne made a pass to Kaitlin Parker. Parker found Kaila Browe, who scored the first goal of her career brought the game to an end with a season-high seven goals for the Eagles. FGCU out-shot their opponent 30-1. “
You have to hope that Senior Day turns out like this. Casey and Kayley mean so much to our program, our community and me,” said head coach Jim Blankenship. “We’ve been good at home, so to finish it out at home like this is exactly what we’d hoped for. We’re still undefeated in the conference, but have some big games ahead of us. I like what the group’s done. I’m pleased with their performance this weekend. It was a big weekend for us and they really responded well.”
The Lady Eagles hit the road to face Mercer at 7 p.m. Friday and Kennesaw State at 1 p.m. Sunday. They conclude their regular season on the road against Stetson on Oct. 26 at 5 p.m.