Sunday, November 4, 2012

Young FGCU Squad Follows Senior Footsteps

For the second-straight season, FGCU hoisted the Atlantic Sun Women’s Soccer Championship trophy.

Last year, the feet of eight seniors guided the Eagles to its first-ever A-Sun title in the program’s first year of eligibility. This season with the departure of several all-conference and program-founding players FGCU Head Coach Jim Blankenship was forced to replenish the roster with several newcomers and freshmen.

Blankenship’s 25-person roster features 12 freshmen and six sophomores outnumbering the five seniors, who have led the way for the young group.

“We have five players who have been in the program and have dealt with several different situations, so I give our seniors a ton of credit for taking our young players under their wings and preparing them for this process,” Blankenship said of his seniors.

Midfielder Ally Kasun is one of those young players, who came away with Championship Most Valuable Player honors after netting the game-winner in the 93rd minute of the title game vs. Mercer. The final result was eerily similar to last season when then-freshman Shannen Wacker found the back of the net in overtime to give the Eagles the tournament title.

“It is huge for Ally because she has been very good for us all year long and she doesn’t play like a freshman, she doesn’t act like a freshman,” Blankenship said of his star freshman. “We have talked about her becoming the foundation of us and taking on responsibilities of leadership. These are important moments for Ally to step up and bury the goal in this fashion. It’s something we will build from with her.”

For Blankenship he notes the difference in the two squads, but also knew the remnants of last year’s title team played a key role in this year’s repeat effort.

“Last season, our team had been there for the first year of the program and there was a confidence to them because we knew how they would react in these pressure situations. This year we weren’t sure how our talented younger players would react in the same situations, but they did an unbelievable job of earning the respect of our older players by proving themselves on the field.”

For Kasun and her fellow 11 freshmen, the foundation is set for an long run of success in the Atlantic Sun and the NCAA Tournament.

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