BOCA RATON, Fla. – The Florida Atlantic University women’s soccer team will take part in its first Conference USA Championship Tournament beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 4 in Miami after the program’s best season in a decade. For their performances, five Owl standouts have earned All-Conference USA honors, as voted on by the league’s coaches.
The Owls marched to a 12-7-1 record, including a seven-match undefeated streak to end the regular season. FAU was selected to finish seventh in the preseason poll and climbed through the ranks to earn a No. 3 seed in the tournament. The Owls boast the second best offense and second best defense in the tournament, outscoring opponents 17-7 in C-USA play.
Junior defender Erica Burt was named First Team All-Conference USA for her outstanding play on the back line. Burt tallied two game-winning goals while assisting on two more. Burt and the FAU defense dealt seven consecutive shutouts dating back to Oct. 9 to secure a bid in the tournament.
“Erica has been a wonderful addition to our back line since transferring to FAU this past January,” FAU Head Coach Patrick Baker said. “She has brought a maturity and high level soccer IQ to our team - especially after losing two experienced senior center backs last fall. She reads the game well, possesses a big time heading presence, has a great range of passes and makes it difficult for opponents to break us down. Her partnership with Gabriella Sosa in the heart of our defense has been a big reason we have enjoyed the season we have had thus far. Erica has also scored some big goals for us this year with game winners against Miami and LA Tech. We are excited for her to be recognized as one of the top players in Conference USA.”
Senior Claire Emslie has etched her name in the record books at FAU and earned All-Conference honors for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year as she was selected as a Second Team All-C-USA forward. With six goals this season, Emslie tied the FAU career goals-scored mark and moved into second place with ten game-winning strikes.
“Claire has once again proven to be one of the top attacking threats again this year,” Baker said. “She tied the Florida Atlantic University All-Time scoring mark with the game winning goal against FIU, which also secured the program’s first ever trip to the Conference USA Tournament. In years past, she has gotten a lot of our opponents’ attention and many felt if you stop her - you stopped us. This year she has been at her best and has a better supporting cast around. Her relationship with Geovana Alves has allowed us to have a productive 1-2 punch up front. Claire can hurt you with her movement, passing, shooting and vision - she is a player that can definitely play beyond college if she chooses to.”
Geovana Alves earned Third Team honors after leading the Owls with nine goals on the season. Alves scored two goals in her debut against Stetson in the season opener and netted a pair of goals in FAU’s final home match against UAB. She tallied four goals in C-USA play, including a double-overtime game-winner at Rice.
“Geovana was one of the key pieces in our 2015 recruiting efforts and we were very fortunate to have her commit from Iowa Central Community College earlier this year,” Baker said. “We have been desperate to have a forward that can truly test the back line and get into back space - she has been able to do that and more this fall. She loves the game of soccer and has shown improvements in her game each month since her arrival in early August. Being from Brazil, she brings a passion and flair that our players appreciate a great deal. Geovana has scored some big goals for us this fall and one of the biggest was the game winner in overtime versus Rice. It was an amazing individual effort and she changed the game with one run. We are excited to have another year with her and see where her game goes in 2016.”
Goalkeeper Sydney Drinkwater earned Third Team efforts after having one of the best individual seasons in program history. The junior tied the single-season record with ten shutouts, including seven in a row going into the tournament. Her 0.839 career save percentage is the top mark in FAU history while she ranks second in goals against average at 0.86.
“Sydney has been absolutely fantastic this year and is one of the top goalkeepers in Conference USA,” Baker said. “She has a great overall presence - possesses the technical elements, athleticism, mentality, leadership and a tremendous kicking game. Because our team defense is pretty good, many times Sydney isn’t tested and you don’t see her qualities. But, against nationally ranked Texas A&M, Texas Tech and North Texas all on the road - you see how talented she is and what she means to our team. Sydney has a great goalkeeping coach in Michael Crane and has shown real development since her arrival from USF in 2014. She and fellow goalkeeper Jennifer O’Campo really push one another and have built a great goalkeeping duo at FAU.”
Sophomore and 2014 All-Freshman Team member Asta Arnadottir also earned Third Team recognition as a midfielder. The Iceland native scored three goals and offered two assists on the season, playing 1,384 minutes on the pitch. Arnadottir scored the game-winner at North Florida on Aug. 23 and netted two goals in FAU’s home win over Miami on Sept. 4. She also assisted on the game-winners at Jacksonville and against UAB.
“Asta has been a threat every game this fall and her ground coverage is amazing,” Baker said. “She can get up and down the flank in a hurry and is a big part of our system. Asta made the All-Freshman Team last year and I’m excited to see her recognized as one of the top players this year. She had a very good spring, went home to play in Iceland all Spring/Summer and then came right into pre-season without missing a beat. Her level of play and production has been better this year - she has added more goals and assists to her game. We knew we were getting one of Iceland’s top young players a year ago and feel she can leave as one of Florida Atlantic’s best players ever. Asta and Jade Rhodes have proven to be one of the top right sides in Conference USA this year and play both sides of the ball very well.”
The Owls will open the C-USA Tournament on Wednesday, Nov. 4 with a matchup against Old Dominion at 7 p.m. in Miami. For more information, please visit conferenceusa.com.
Fans who want to attend the tournament may purchase single-game or tournament tickets by visiting https://www.nmnathletics.com/tickets/TicketHome.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=11700. FAU students will be admitted free of charge with a valid Owl Card. FAU Athletics will have a tailgate area set up to provide snacks and drinks for fans just outside the stadium. For more information, follow @FAUWomensSoccer on twitter.