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.