Friday, October 17, 2014

FGCU Trio Keeps Eagles Soaring on Offense

FGCU was primed to be contenders in the Atlantic Sun for women’s soccer in 2014 in the preseason, returning three of its top scorers, placing six players on the Preseason All-Conference team and looking to bounce back from a 2013 A-Sun Championship Final shootout loss to Jacksonville.
Moving forward to today, FGCU sits 5-0 in the conference standings and has already clinched a spot in the 2014 A-Sun Championship, while owning a 12-3 overall mark for the season. There is no shortage of offense for the Eagles, thanks to FGCU’s top scoring trio.
Sophomore Tabby Tindell, 2013 A-Sun Freshman of the Year, already matched her goal total from last year of 15 and leads the conference with 36 points. So what is the difference between this year and the 2013?
“I feel like last year, my freshman year, I was still getting into the swing of things and getting used to everything,” mentioned Tindell. “Coming in this year I’m playing with mostly the same girls so it helps a lot to still have that chemistry we had last year. It has been working really great and I just hope it continues.”

The chemistry shows in Tindell’s numbers. The Ocala, Florida-native is tied for second in the conference with six assists and leads the A-Sun with 15 goals.
“We only lost one starting senior off last year’s team so it’s mainly the same group of girls and I think that’s helped a lot with the way we play on the field,” Tindell explained about team chemistry and her comfort level on the field.
Tindell is not the only Eagle surpassing her 2013 numbers. Paulina Speckmaier has seen improvements in the program ever since she transferred to FGCU from Florida.
“Last year was my first year here as well and coming from Florida and not playing, I kind of had to get back in the groove a bit,” said Speckmaier about the transition. “This year it’s just finding the love for it again and playing the way I know how to play.”

Speckmaier, third in the A-Sun with 17 points and has six goals this year, also cites the chemistry as a factor to her successful second season at FGCU.
“I guess as the season is progressing we’re learning how each other play and I can kind of anticipate now where Tabby and [Shannen] Wacker are going to be before I even pass the ball.”
Anticipation is a key to Shannen Wacker’s contributions as well for the FGCU attack. One of six total seniors on the squad, Wacker leads the conference with a season-high 10 assists.
“The chemistry, especially between the three of us has gotten so much better now that we have Paulina in the attacking third most of the time. It definitely helps having that one extra person that you can find in the box.”

Wacker has no issue being the one to set up the scoring chances for the Eagles. To her, it all comes down to wins.
“It’s cool that I’ve got something that will help these two [Tindell and Speckmaier] get goals and as long as it makes us better and helps us win games then it puts me in a way happier place than just trying to be selfish about it.”
FGCU, clinching a spot in the A-Sun Championship last Friday, has an opportunity to stay at home for the A-Sun Championship if the Eagles remain as the No. 1 seed.
“We know that we’re not going to let up just because we’ve achieved something,” stated Wacker about the possibility of relaxing after clinching a spot for the postseason. “That’s not good enough for us so we’re just going to keep playing our game and getting better at it so that we can continue winning.”
Wacker, playing in the final season of her collegiate career, wants to leave a statement with this year’s FGCU squad by the end of the year.
“I want to go out with a win and go as far as we can go because I know that we’re better than the first round of the NCAA Tournament and we’ve had three years to prove that,” said Wacker on her goals for the season. “I think this is finally going to be the year that we’re going to exceed the goals we’ve had in the past.”
FGCU closes the conference season with matches against Jacksonville and Stetson at home and then prepares for the A-Sun Championship.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Who's Hot in the A-Sun?

In case you missed them, several players and teams have produced impressive performances as the A-Sun heads into its second full month of the season. This list of "Who's Hot" includes several performances from Lipscomb athletics along with a number of student-athletes and teams whose efforts place them among the best in the conference and in the nation.
Lipscomb Men's Soccer/Luke Gearin
The Bisons are 7-2-0 overall and 1-0-0 in the A-Sun, beginning 1-0 in conference play for the first time since 2006. Luke Gearin scored game tying goal in A-Sun opener with USC Upstate and now has a total of six scores for the season to lead the conference in goals scored. Gearin was also a member of the Hyatt Place Select Lipscomb Invitational All-Tournament Team, which the Bisons won just over a week ago.

Sammie Strausbaugh, Jacksonville Volleyball
Strausbaugh continues to compete at the highest level for the Dolphins, as the junior now sits in sixth place on the NCAA kills per set list (4.98). She leads the A-Sun with 254 total kills and enters this weekend first in the A-Sun and ranked among the NCAA leaders in points per set (5th), kills per set (6th), total kills (16th) and aces per set (17th). She is also one of only three players in the country to have recorded at least 23 kills in more than one three-set match this season.

Strausbaugh is already a two-time A-Sun Player of the Week this season and helped JU to an 8-4 record during the month of September. She broke a 14 year-old school record by posting 24 kills in a three-set match vs Dayton on Sept. 19, also becoming just the fifth player in school history to record over 1,000 career kills in the same match.

Lauren Ford/Lipscomb Volleyball
A perennial standout for the Lady Bisons, Ford has helped Lipscomb into the lead in the A-Sun overall in kills with 699, an average of 13.19 per set. The Lady Bisons also lead in conference matches only with 69 and an average of 17 per set.

Ford has double figures in kills in 11 of her 13 matches this season. Now with 1,341 kills, she is only the third Lipscomb player to pass 1,300 career kills and is also tied for seventh on the A-Sun all-time career kills list. Currently Ford is second overall in the conference in kills with 203 (3.83 per set) and second in conference matches only with 23 (5.75 per set).
She is also fourth in hitting percentage in conference play (.327) and eighth overall (.253).

Lipscomb Women's Soccer
Outscoring all opponents 20-8 this season, Lipscomb ranks second in the A-Sun for shots (154) and goals (20) and sports a 0.667 shutout percentage, ranking the Lady Bisons 13th in the nation in shutout percentage.

With its win over Kennesaw State in the conference opener, Lipscomb added to its streak of record-breaking performances, increasing the record for most shutouts in a season to eight as well as breaking the record for most wins in a season with seven.

Tabby Tindell, FGCU Women's Soccer
Tabby Tindell certainly has the Eagles' wings up as her latest game-winner against La Salle brought her season total to six game-winning goals. The sophomore forward now ranks tied for fourth in the A-Sun record books for game-winners in a single season.  

Nationally she ranks first in game-winning goals (6), third in points (28) and points per game (2.55), is tied for third in goals (12) and is tied for fourth in goals per game (1.091). With her dozen goals already this season, she is just three scores shy of matching her own single-season record of 15 and has already matched her 2013 total of four assists. She leads the A-Sun with those 12 goals and 28 points.

Twice this season Tindell has been named the National Team of the Week which recognizes the top performances of players nationwide. Individuals from national powers, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Arizona State, Wisconsin, Duke, UCLA, Florida, Penn State, Boston College, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Kansas and Georgia are all represented on the list alongside the A-Sun standout.

J.J Webber, NKU Men's Cross Country
"Running well and getting faster each week" is how NKU Cross Country Coach Steve Kruse described J.J. Webber's 2014 season thus far. Webber won the Rhodes Invitational last week and also led the Norse to a first-place team finish at the event. Webber turned in a time of 24:37.40, winning the 8K race by margin of 36 seconds. He also claimed his third A-Sun Runner of the Week honor this season and eighth overall in his career at NKU.

Daniel Garcia, KSU Cross Country
Garcia joins Webber as one of the top men's cross country runners in the conference this season. A two-time A-Sun Runner of the Week, Garcia most recently ran in the Mountain Dew Invitational hosted by the University of Florida. The Owls' freshman stayed with the front of the pack and finished in second (24:25.70), just eight seconds behind the winner of the men's 8K. He outran 86 other runners in a field that contained Florida, Georgia Tech and five A-Sun teams. His 8K time ranks second in the A-Sun this season, behind J.J. Webber's 24:14.55 at the Bluegrass Invitational.

Anna Buhigas, Lipscomb Women's Soccer
In denying Kennesaw State a goal in the Lady Bisons' conference opener, Buhigas dropped her season GAA to 0.67 and is now tied for eighth nationally for the lowest GAA in a single season. The sophomore goalkeeper also has a 0.94 career GAA, putting her sixth in the A-Sun record books. Buhigas has helped Lipscomb to eight shutouts thus far in 2014.

UNF Men's Golf/Joey Petronio
Senior Joey Petronio fired a career low of 66 (-6) in the final round and helped North Florida Men's Golf overcome a six-shot final round deficit to capture the Shoal Creek Invitational hosted by Graeme McDowell last week.

The Ospreys fired the lowest score of the final round (287) to rally
past two-time defending national champion Alabama and finish with a 54-hole total of 859 (-5). Petronio claimed the second individual medalist title of his career after blistering the course for a three-round 205 (-11). The total bettered Petronio's previous tournament best by three strokes while the tournament crown marked the 45th team title in UNF program history. Two others, MJ Maguire and Taylor Hancock, joined Petronio with top-10 finishes.

Fans can follow all of the A-Sun action at, by selecting their favorite sports' twitter handles here, or at the conference's Facebook page.