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With their sights set on the present, the 2006 Wilkes University women’s soccer team refuses to be satisfied simply with past success. The Lady Colonels are coming off a stellar 15-4-1 season in 2005. During the season they captured their first Freedom Conference title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship for the first time. Those accomplishments now serve as a motivating force for a successful new campaign.
Head coach John Sumoski says that his goal for this season is not necessarily to defende their conference title, but rather to remain focused on playing quality soccer. “One of my goals is for us to meet our potential as a team. As the defending conference champions there is always a great deal of pressure to defend your title, but the team will determine their own goals. I am confident that we can accomplish great things if we play good soccer”.
The Lady Colonels are returning a number of players from last year’s championship team, but as Coach Sumoski describes, “The 2006 roster is more experienced, faster, and has greater depth”.
A major strength this season is the return of the entire defensive unit that limited the opposition to just 1.07 goals per match in 2005 and allowed an average of only nine shots per game. First team All-Freedom Conference honoree junior Liz Pauly returns in goal for the Lady Colonels. Pauly had the Lady Colonels off to an 11-0 start a year ago before suffering a season-ending injury in the 12th match of the campaign. She posted six wins by shutout and had a stellar 0.38 goals against aveage. She will receive help from sophomore Jessica Berkey, who allowed an average of just 1.79 goals per game and started the final eight contests in net, and freshman Ashli Rentzel.
Several key returnees will anchor the defensive line, including first team All-Freedom Conference selection junior Dana Lehman. Lehman was a member of the 2005 NSCAA Mid Atlantic All-Region second team. Junior Bethany Head, a second team All-Conference honoree, along with fellow juniors Briana Bertoni, Casandra Hare and Rebecca Duttry are also back for a defense that ended the 2005 campaign with nine shutout victories. Sophomore Chelsie Yauch, who missed all of last season due to an injury, as well as freshmen Amanda Barber and Kayla Wolfe will also look to contribute to the back line for the Lady Colonels.
The midfield features several veterans that should make this group tough both offensively and defensively. All-Freedom Conference second team selection Kristi Barsby returns for her senior season after tying for team-high honors with seven assists in 2005. Juniors Susie Zavistoski, who had four goals and one assist last season, and Gina Robinson, who chipped in with one goal and three assists, will also return in the midfield. Sophomore Jessica Gannon returns after seeing significant playing time as a freshman, while rookies Francesca Caracciolo and Ashley Deemie will also be relied on to contribute.
The Lady Colonels welcome back several members of the forward line this season. Sophomore Catherine Simone was a first team All-Freedom Conference honoree as a freshman after leading Wilkes in both goals and points last season. Simone, who ended the campaign with 11 goals and seven assists, was also the MVP of the Freedom Conference Tournament. Senior Christina Waldele, who finished with six goals and three assists in 2005, junior Caitlin Dukas, who missed all of last season due to an injury, and sophomore Lauren Cirilli are also experienced players who should lend support up front. The Lady Colonels also expect freshman Meredith Murdock to vie for playing time at forward.
Coach Sumoski touts, “I think that we are prepared for the pressure that comes with defending a conference title. We have an impressive group of freshmen, and our veterans have improved greatly. I am looking forward to the season.”