MACON, Ga. - Two first half penalty kick goals scored by Shea Rhoney and Paulina Speckmaier proved to be enough to give FGCU Women's Soccer a 2-1 victory on the road against 22nd ranked South Florida in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
The win marks FGCU's first NCAA Tournament victory in program history, as well as the first win for the A-Sun in the Women's NCAA Tournament since 2004. The Eagles were 0-3 in their previous appearances before today and advance to face Duke on Friday, November 20th in the Second Round.
The match got off to a torrent start as South Florida recorded a goal early on its first corner kick of the match. Some miscommunication from the Eagles led to an own-goal, giving the Bulls a 1-0 lead in just the second minute. FGCU (14-5-2) responded quickly however as aggressive play on offense led to a penalty kick opportunity which Rhoney knocked home, tying the match 1-1 in the fifth. Rhoney's strike was FGCU's first-ever goal in the NCAA Tournament and the first by any Atlantic Sun Women's Soccer team in the tournament since 2004.
The Eagles converted on their second penalty kick of the match in the 37th minute as Speckmaier collected her sixth goal of the season, giving FGCU a 2-1 lead heading into halftime. Throughout the final 45 minutes, the Bulls increased their tempo and aggressiveness, leading to several scoring chances, but all were eventually stifled by the FGCU defense and intelligent goalkeeper play from All-Academic Team member Brittany Brown who finished the day with five saves.
The Eagles move on to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament to face the No. 3 seed Duke Blue Devils in Gainesville, Fla. next Friday, November 20th.
FGCU vs. South Florida NCAA Tournament Notes
- Shea Rhoney's fifth minute penalty kick strike was FGCU's first-ever NCAA Tournament goal and the first for any A-Sun team since UCF in 2004.
- Saturday afternoon's result marks FGCU's first win over South Florida after a 1-0 loss to the Bulls in 2014. It also marks South Florida's first home loss of the season.
- With the win, the Women's Soccer program for FGCU becomes just the third Eagle squad to advance in the NCAA Tournament, joining the Men's and Women's Basketball teams in Fort Myers.
- FGCU is now riding a nine-match winning streak and is unbeaten in its last 11 games dating back to Sep. 20.
- The Eagles won their NCAA Tournament match despite being outshot by the Bulls 22-11. It was the first time FGCU had been outshot in a game since a 2-1 win over Wake Forest on Oct. 4.
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