A-Sun Insider: Eagles Make Strong Case for NCAA Home Match

It was all about redemption for Jim Blankenship's women's soccer squad. After a heart-breaking loss to Jacksonville on penalty kicks in last year's Atlantic Sun Women's Soccer Championship, the Eagles had something to prove.

Once conference play began, it was all business for FGCU. The Eagles went a perfect 7-0 against A-Sun competition – the sixth team in A-Sun history with an unblemished conference record – and earned the right to host the championship. Throughout the season, the idea of hosting an NCAA match transformed from a dream to a strong possibility.

"We all knew what to expect coming in to this season. Last year, it was my first A-Sun Championship, now we knew the intensity we had to bring all season," stated sophomore Tabby Tindell – the 2014 A-Sun Player of the Year and Championship MVP.

After capturing the A-Sun Championship with a 3-1 victory against Kennesaw State, FGCU is excited for the opportunity to host the first NCAA Tournament match in A-Sun history. They carry a 17-3 record, a program-best winning streak of 13 matches and an RPI of 31 before the A-Sun Championship weekend began.

"We're happy to do everything we needed to do to get back to the dance," said head coach Jim Blankenship. "Last year, was a huge letdown. So this year, that was motivation for this whole team."

The Eagles placed six student-athletes on the All-Conference First Team and claimed the Player of the Year (Tindell), Defensive Player of the Year (Emma Blackwell) and Coach of the Year (Jim Blankenship) superlative awards. Tindell has been the driving force behind FGCU's offensive attack. She has 20 goals and 48 points for the Eagles, both tops in the A-Sun and high among the NCAA ranks.

"It would mean everything for this team. Playing in the NCAA Tournament was one of our goals," said Tindell. "To come back here and get the support of our classmates and our fans, it would just be an amazing feeling."

Blackwell led an FGCU back line that allowed just 13 goals in the season. The junior defender realized what it meant to the program, but knows it would also be great for the conference.

"This isn't just for our school, it is for the Atlantic Sun. We want to get that recognition out there," mentioned Blackwell. "For our team, it was a main goal. We play well at home and know having it here would be awesome for our program."

For head coach Blankenship, a chance to host an NCAA match would mean much more than just one more match in 2014.

"It would put our program on a different level," said Blankenship. "Based on our body of work with the schedule, opponents and results, these players deserve that chance to host."

FGCU awaits its future destination during Monday's NCAA Selection Show at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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