FORT MYERS — Senior Ashley Ciesielczyk, a key member of Florida Gulf Coast University’s NCAA tournament-bound women’s soccer team has been suspended for the Eagles’ first NCAA tournament game at Florida on Friday following her Monday morning arrest for hosting a house party filled with underage drinkers.
FGCU athletic director Ken Kavanagh investigated the matter and met with Eagles coach Jim Blankenship twice Tuesday before coming to the decision Tuesday night.
Should FGCU upset second-seeded Southeastern Conference champ Florida, Ciesielczyk, the A-Sun Defensive Player of the Year would be able to play the next game. She can still practice with the Eagles and will travel with the team.
“It’s difficult whenever you’re holding anybody out for not-eligibility reasons,” Kavanagh said. “But at the same time, based on all the circumstances and deliberations we felt this was best for her and for the program.”
When Lee County deputies arrived at the 8300 block of Buena Vista Road in San Carlos Park early Monday morning, they said Ciesielczyk, 22, was observed “yelling for anyone under the age of 21 years old to run out the back.” A total of 19 minors were identified for consuming or possessing alcohol, although the arrest report states “multiple individuals” ran away.
No other Eagles were identified in wrongdoing and Kavanagh said Ciesielcyzk does not live with teammates.
“But when you take people into your home, you share responsibility,” Kavanagh said.
On Sunday the Eagles clinched that A-Sun tournament and a NCAA tourney berth, beating Mercer, 1-0 in overtime, at home.
Ciesielcyzk spent three hours in the Lee County Jail on Monday morning. She faces a misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
On Monday afternoon, the A-Sun champion Eagles learned of their NCAA tournament draw. FGCU (14-3-3) will play at second-seeded Southeastern Conference champ Florida (17-4-1) at 3 p.m. Friday.
A three-year starter from Oregon, Ohio, Ciesielczyk attended a team meeting Monday afternoon at Naples Flatbread in the Miromar Outlets to learn the Eagles’ draw.
Not long before that, Blankenship, the A-Sun Coach of the Year and the program-builder of the Eagles’ sixth-year program, got a call from Ciesielczyk about the arrest.
Blankenship first met with Kavanagh on Tuesday morning, just before the Eagles’ 10 a.m. practice. Ciesielczyk did not attend the workout.
Kavanagh had been in Macon, Ga., for A-Sun meetings until late Monday night.
Blankenship has deferred comment on the suspension to Kavanagh, but on Tuesday morning he talked about the distraction it caused.
“Like anybody in the country, we’re excited about the opportunity we have in front of us,” Blankenship said. “My intention was to be dealing with breaking down tape and scouting Florida, not going through this. But this is part of the responsibility of coaching or of anything when you’re responsible for other people.”
The former coach of Miami, Blankenship said he had never before dealt with a player’s arrest.
FGCU lost at Florida, 3-0, last year in the Eagles’ first year of postseason eligibility after four seasons of transition into Division I. The Eagles also lost at Florida, 5-0, in the regular season last year. It was the first meeting between the programs.