FGCU's Blankenship Reaches 400 Career Wins as Eagles Down Creighton

FGCU's Blankenship Reaches 400 Career Wins as Eagles Down Creighton

FORT MYERS, Fla. (fgcuathletics.com)– FGCU women's soccer head coach Jim Blankenship reached 400 career wins on Friday night at the FGCU Soccer Complex as the Eagles (4-3-0) defeated Creighton (6-2-0) by a score of 2-1. Blankenship is in his 26th season of coaching collegiate soccer and his 13th with the Green and Blue.

Only 16 active Division I coaches in NCAA women's soccer have surpassed the 400-win mark and just three others are in their 26th season.

"I'm incredibly proud for our players, I know this win meant a lot to them and this was our best win of the season by far," said Blankenship. "Creighton played exactly as hard as we thought they would. For our players to step up and meet that challenge was great and will hopefully give us some confidence."

FGCU put the pressure on its visitors immediately after kick-off and senior Evdokia Popadinova found the back of the net just 12 minutes into the game, putting the home team on top 1-0. Both senior Marjorie Boilesen and junior Syniah Clark were credited with assists on Popadinova's second goal of the season.

Just over a minute after the Eagles' goal, Creighton tested senior Melissa Weck with a shot that was fired from 15 yards out, but the keeper came up with the save to keep the Bluejays at bay.

Through the opening 45 minutes of play, the Eagles outshot Creighton 10-2 and posted a 4-3 edge in corner kicks. Both Boilesen and junior Cassidy Morgan launched shots on-frame in the final minutes of the first stanza, but were denied, sending FGCU into the break with the 1-0 advantage.

Freshman Louise Lillback added to the Green and Blue lead with a goal of her own in the 65th minute that put FGCU up 2-0. Popadinova and redshirt-junior Megan Young collected assists on Lillback's second career goal as an Eagle.

With less than seven minutes to go in the match, Creighton scored after capitalizing on a set-piece opportunity, cutting FGCU's lead in half. The Bluejays tried to get another shot off against Weck, but the Eagles' back line stifled the Creighton offense as the home team held on for Blankenship's historic win.

"You can't achieve something like this in your career without having great people around you," said Blankenship. "I am so thankful for all of the coaches who helped me along my journey and made me the coach I am today. I'm also grateful for the players who I played alongside with and who I still learn from today. I also could not do this without the support of my family and my wife. I'm on the road a lot and they are fully supportive of me and this team and that just means the world."

Creighton entered Fort Myers on a four-match winning streak and had previously only lost to No. 10 Clemson by a score of 1-0. The Bluejays also started the week with the No. 8 RPI in the nation. Over the course of the night, FGCU outshot Creighton 13-9.

Up Next
FGCU will remain at the Nest to host Marshall (2-6-0) for a 1 p.m. match on Sunday, Sept. 22. It will be "We Are FGCU Day" at the FGCU Soccer Complex and fans are encouraged to participate in the blue out. The meeting will be the first between the two programs; so far this season, the Eagles are 2-0 against first-time opponents on Sundays.