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Women’s College Soccer. FGCU Has Some Big Shoes To Fill But A Solid Core Returns.

Departures create the opportunity for others to assume a greater role in 2023.

Coach – Jim Blankenship – 17th Season
Conference – ASUN
2022 Record – 12-6-2 overall, 8-1-1 in conference
2022 National Ranking – Not Ranked
Five Year Win Total
2022 – 12
2021 – 10
2020 – 7
2019 – 11
2018 – 13
Key Departures

Louise Lillback – Forward – United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Second Team in 2022 and Third Team in 2020. ASUN Player of the Year in 2021. All-ASUN Second Team in 2020. ASUN All-Freshman Team in 2019. Scored 34 goals and played 4764 minutes in four seasons. Took 69 shots, most in the ASUN, in 2022. Signed a professional contract with KIF Örebro in her native Sweden.

Leah Scarpelli – Midfielder – USC All-South Region First Team in 2022 and Third Team in 2021. ASUN Defensive Player of the Year and All-Tournament Team in 2022. All-ASUN Second Team in 2021. Started in 53 games in three seasons after transferring from Penn State. Third in ASUN in assists with 6 and tied for third in game-winning goals with 4 in 2022. Signed a professional contract with Sporting CP in Portugal.

Marla Gaudlitz – Midfielder – All-ASUN Second Team and All-Freshman Team in 2022. Played in 19 games and started 16, scoring 11 points. Transferred to Seattle.

Katie Sullivan – Goalkeeper – ASUN Tournament MVP, All ASUN Third Team, and ASUN Goalkeeper of the Week in 2022. Played every minute of all 20 games with a 1.27 goals against average and 7 shutouts in 2022. Had a 1.11 goals against average and 7 shutouts in 2021 after transferring following her graduation from Creighton. Completed her eligibility.

Margaret Berry – Defender – All-ASUN Second Team in 2022 after transferring from Boston University to complete graduate studies at FGCU. Scored 3 goals, including game-tying goal against Liberty in the ASUN championship game. Started all 20 games and played for 1809 minutes. Completed her eligibility.

Libby Helverson – Defender – Started all 20 games and played for 1685 minutes in 2022 as a graduate student after transferring from Drake. Declared for NWSL draft after completing eligibility.
2023 Outlook

The Eagles are coming off their seventh NCAA tournament appearance and though they have holes to fill, they have the personnel to do it.
Two players have gone pro. Louise Lillback, the reigning ASUN Player of the Year, forewent her final year of eligibility to return to her native Sweden. Midfielder Leah Scarpelli, the reigning ASUN Defensive Player of the Year, signed with a team in Portugal. FGCU also loses their goalie Katie Sullivan, who was their only netminder all year in her fifth and final year of eligibility. And two of their top defenders, Margaret Berry and Libby Helverson, also completed their eligibility.
This year, the Eagles are less dependent on the transfer portal and relying more on the players that they recruited from high school. The only graduate on the roster is midfielder Grace Paradis, who played in all 20 games as an FGCU senior last year.
Midfielder Ashley Labbe, who was fourth in the ASUN with six goals last year, is the likely candidate to lead the team in goals. She made the All-South Region Third Team and All-ASUN First Team. The United Soccer Coaches noted her as a midfielder to watch in 2023.
Midfielder Erika Zschuppe, who made a splash as a freshman last year, returns. She made the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region Third Team, All-ASUN Third Team, All-Freshman Team, and All-Tournament Team. Another All-Freshman Team star, Nellie Nygren, is back after starting 16 games last year.
The big question mark is at goalkeeper. The more experienced college candidate is Clara Karlsson, a junior transfer from DII Bridgeport. Playing in 20 of the 23 games for the Knights last year, she had a stunning 0.82 goals against average. How she will do against DI shooters is yet to be seen. True freshman Olivia Molina is likely to receive a good look as well. Though Molina is unproven in college play, she was on the US Soccer U15 and U16 developmental teams and has extensive club experience. The third keeper is redshirt freshman Amaya Assal.
The ASUN has a slightly different look this year. Liberty, who the Eagles upset to win the conference championship last year, has left the conference. That leaves Lipscomb, who tied with FGCU at 8-1-1 in conference play, as the target. The Bisons tallied 10 out of 12 votes in the coaches’ poll to be the preseason favorite.

Clara Karlsson – Goalkeeper – Örnsköldsvik, Sweden – A junior transfer from DII Bridgeport. Played in 20 games and started 19 with 0.82 goals against average for Knights in 2022.

Olivia Molina – Goalkeeper – Tampa, Florida – Incoming freshman who played on US Soccer U15 and U16 national teams.

Maya Henley Buisan – Forward – Barcelona, Spain – Incoming freshman.

Taylor Thomas – Midfielder – Sioux Falls, South Dakota – Transfer from Dayton. Redshirted in 2022.

Grace Sodermark – Midfielder – Clermont, Florida – Incoming freshman.

Anna Mariano – Defender – Coral Springs, Florida – Incoming freshman who attended Coral Springs Charter School.

Reese Mendenhall – Defender – Phoenix – Junior transfer from Grand Canyon. All-WAC Second Team in 2022. Played 55 games at GCU.

Courtney Corcoran – Midfielder – Crownsville, Maryland – Junior transfer from Marshall. Started all 35 games in two seasons for Thundering Herd.

Lykke Johnsen Mørken – Midfielder – Tønsberg, Norway – Freshman who played for Norway U16 national team.
Elena Hinkson – Defender – Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania – Redshirt sophomore transfer from Pittsburgh.
Emma Badger – Defender – Wells, Maine – Sophomore transfer from Boston College.
Emma Mossey – Defender – Boca Raton, Florida – Redshirt freshman transfer from South Carolina.
Kaitlyn Scherer – Midfielder – Green Cove Springs, Florida – Incoming freshman.

Picture from FGCU Athletics

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Posted in 2023 Team Reviews

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