FORT MYERS, Fla. - Riding the waves of the greatest season in FGCU history in 2012-13, all fifteen Eagles teams are set to continue that athletic and academic success in 2013-14.
Six teams – 40 percent of FGCU’s programs – will commence the 2013-14 campaign looking to defend conference regular-season or postseason championships, including: volleyball, men’s soccer, women’s soccer, women’s swimming and diving, women’s basketball and men’s basketball.
FGCU became the first school in Atlantic Sun history other than ETSU to claim the Bill Bibb Trophy for the conference’s All-Sports Championship – another title it will set out to defend this coming season. Likewise, the Green and Blue became the first program since 2006-07 (ETSU) to sweep the three All Sports Trophies, including Men’s and Women’s.
Success wasn’t constrained to within the boundaries of competition. FGCU student-athletes posted a record 3.31 cumulative GPA for the spring 2013 semester, continuing a trend of record-breaking academic performances and setting yet another benchmark entering the upcoming year. Returning women’s basketball senior Sarah Hansen also became the first FGCU Division-I Academic All American last year.
Men’s basketball established its benchmark in 2012-13 and simultaneously put FGCU on the map with a captivating March run, turning Fort Myers into Dunk City and unveiling the best-kept secret in the nation. Led by first-year coach Joe Dooley and lone senior Chase Fieler (Parkersburg, W. Va./Parkersburg South HS), @FGCU_MBB returns four starters and four of their top five scorers, rebounders and assist leaders.
Named the most entertaining team in the last decade by Bleacher Report, FGCU is positioned to live up to that honor as Dooley’s up-tempo philosophy matches FGCU’s high-flying attack. Fans can reserve their season tickets for both men’s and women’s basketball by calling the FGCU Ticket Office at 239-590-7145.
Arguably the most consistently successful team since FGCU’s transition to Division I, women’s basketball will be seeking its seventh straight postseason berth, which would continue a national record for the most consecutive seasons earning a postseason berth for a new D-I program. Similar to their male counterparts, the Eagles’ fast-paced offense led the nation in 3-point shooting for the second consecutive year en route to their second straight 18-0 record in A-Sun play. Sarah Hansen (McKean, Pa./General McLane HS) – the reigning A-Sun Player of the Year – is already FGCU’s all-time leading scorer and enters the year just 561 points shy of becoming just the sixth A-Sun women’s basketball player with 2,000 career points. Behind her and four-time A-Sun Coach of the Year Karl Smesko, @FGCU_WBB will be aiming for its 10th straight season of 21 or more wins.
The fall season kicks off with men’s soccer and women’s soccer setting out to defend their respective A-Sun regular-season and tournament championships. Matches against USF, Wisconsin and Washington highlight the @FGCU_MSoccer schedule, including a home rematch of the A-Sun Championship game versus Mercer. For @FGCU_WSoccer, a mid-September trip to Honolulu for the University of Hawaii Tournament breaks up the non-conference docket assembled by defending A-Sun Coach of the Year Jim Blankenship.
The volleyball team, along with women’s basketball and women’s soccer, was instrumental in earning FGCU its first A-Sun Women’s All-Sports Championship as a result of its regular-season title in 2012, and it begins 2013 seeking to avenge its championship semifinal loss. Jill Hopper (Muncie, Ind./Yorktown HS) and Kaitlin Holm (Fort Myers, Fla./Fort Myers HS) return to lead @FGCU_VB following all-conference selections last year. Head coach Dave Nichols was named A-Sun Coach of the Year, and has put together a challenging 2013 schedule, including a much-anticipated matchup with five-time national champion Penn State as part of the Hilton Garden Inn/Homewood Suites Airport Classic at Alico Arena Sept. 13-14.
As the men’s golf team continues its growth as one of the nation’s top programs, it will have a new place to call home in 2013-14 at the Jack Nicholas-designed Old Corkscrew Golf Club. The first-class facility was ranked No. 1 in Southwest Florida in 2010 and 2012 by Golf Magazine. On the women’s side, returnee Georgia Price (Winchester, England/Fort Myers HS) is poised to lead the @FGCU_WGolf program, which had five members named to the All-American Scholar Team last year.
Men’s cross country will look to build off a solid 2012-13 season in which it was named as the third-best cross country-only squad in the nation. Many key runners return in 2013-14, including seniors Argeo Cruz (Immokalee, Fla./Immokalee HS) and Chris Rudloff (Ormond Beach, Fla./Mainland HS) who set the top-two times in school history in the 8K last year, and Aaron Rojas (Estero, Fla./Estero HS) who was tabbed to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team. On the women’s side, senior Kelly Perzanowski (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville HS) is coming off a school-record performance in the 6K at the NCAA Cross Country South Regional last fall and will be looked to lead the @FGCU_XC program one more time.
Both the men’s and women’s tennis programs are coming off their most successful seasons since making the move to D-I, and will aim to continue that ascension this year. @FGCU_MTEN earned a signature victory over Oklahoma State, and record crowds turned out to witness the action. With 11 wins last season, the women’s team set a D-I program record and had three players earn postseason honors. The team will have a new leader for the first time in five years to pave the exciting new future as former head coach Jen Gabou has stepped away from the program.
As the calendar turns to early October, fans will get the opportunity to witness one of the best student-athletes in their sport as Emma Svensson (Uppsala, Sweden/Celsiusskolan) takes to the pool for the women’s swimming and diving program. She’ll be looking to defend her Coastal Collegiate Swimming Association Swimmer of the Year award while leading the @FGCU_WSwim program to a sixth-straight CCSA Conference Championship in 2013-14.
The spring seasons begin in mid-February with baseball and softball home games, followed by the first sand volleyball matches of the year a few weeks later. The @FGCU_Baseball program continued to garner national attention during the summer as alumnus Chris Sale earned the win in the MLB All-Star Game, and the Eagles had six players drafted. The Green and Blue will look to rebound from a disappointing end to what was an overall good year, and have sophomores Michael Murray (West Palm Beach, Fla./Forest Hill HS) and Nick Rivera (Cape Coral, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) to anchor that resurgence as both were named to the Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American Team.
After suffering a walk-off defeat in the A-Sun Tournament to end its season last year, the softball team prepares for the 2014 season looking to duplicate the success of its 2012 campaign when it won the A-Sun regular-season and postseason championship. Despite the unfortunate ending to last year, the Eagles will look to build on what was a challenging schedule which resulted in the @FGCU_Softball program finishing the campaign with an RPI of 56.
Rounding out the final sport to commence action in 2013-14 is the sand volleyball team, which will begin its third year of competition. The program lost just two players to graduation last year, and will be looking to orchestrate its most complete season to date as a majority of the team enters its third campaign together.
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