Women’s Soccer Season Outlook
Colonials look to add depth with 12 newcomers
WASHINGTON – After a strong 2016 season defined by defense, the George Washington women’s soccer team looks to become a stronger threat on both sides of the ball with the return of 15 letterwinners and the addition of 12 newcomers in 2017.
Despite graduating nine seniors in the spring, the Colonials return five starters from last year’s squad that posted an overall 11-7-3 record.
In her sixth season at the helm, head coach Sarah Barnes looks to strengthen last year’s sturdy defense while working to become more dynamic in the attack to create more goal scoring opportunities. A challenging non-conference slate that features local foe Georgetown, 2016 Big South Champion Liberty, and SEC powerhouse LSU, will help the Buff and Blue gain the experience needed to prepare for a strong A-10 season.
“One of our main goals is to be more dynamic,” said head coach Sarah Barnes. “I think there were a lot of games last year that were one goal games either way, so I think this year it’s going to be about creating more goal-scoring opportunities so we have the ability to be more effective and certainly more dangerous. The more chances you create, the better opportunity you have to score more goals.”
Redshirt senior Miranda Horn returns for the Colonials after posting an overall 0.65 goals-against average (GAA) to lead the conference a year ago, while adding an impressive 0.889 save percentage in A-10 play en route to earning a spot on the All-Conference Second Team. Junior Anna Tapen and freshman Kenzie Kilgallen will also look to make an impact between the pipes in 2017.
“This is the sharpest Miranda’s been at this point coming into the preseason,” said Barnes. “She’s very motivated and has set some pretty lofty goals for herself, so I think other teams are going to have a hard time with her. Miranda has the most experience and we’ll lean on her, especially early on. We also have Anna Tapen, who I think will continue to be competitive this year, and Kenzie Kilgallen, who’s quick and has really great reactions, so we’ll have a good core unit in goal.”
Last season, the Colonials allowed the fewest goals (17) in the Atlantic 10 with a league-best 0.77 GAA – sitting atop the league standings in that category for the third straight season. Redshirt Junior Annika Johnson is slated to return and make an immediate impact after missing all of last season. Sophomore Olivia Di Cristofaro made the transition from midfield to defense in the spring and will look to strengthen the back line along with freshman Allie Nornes, sophomore Megan McCormick, and junior Dani Frese.
“We actually return a pretty experienced defense in Annika, Olivia, Megan, and Dani, so we have a strong core there” said Barnes. “Then we have Allie Nornes who has come in and already made a splash. It’s a solid group all around. It’s a very experienced back line in many ways, so I think that’s going to be a big strength for our team.”
GW returns a strong group of midfielders for 2017, including Sofia Pavon, who sat out last season due to injury. The 2015 A-10 Rookie of the Year posted six goals and one assist in her freshman campaign. Junior Mia Barreda returns to action after appearing in all but one game while making 12 starts last season. Sophomore Deena DeSilva looks to continue her momentum from last year as well, appearing in all 21 matches for GW and netting the game-winning goal against Cleveland as a rookie.
“At midfield, Sofia Pavon returns after a really great freshman year,” said Barnes. “She’s very skillful and very savvy from a tactical standpoint and she looks very good right now so we’re very excited about having her back. She’s a goal scoring threat who can create stuff for herself and for others, so that’s a huge gain. Mia Barreda and Deena DeSilva both gained more experience last year and look very sharp as well. I think it’s a really strong group. We also have several freshmen who will be able to come in, be pretty competitive, and contribute.”
Senior Brittany Cooper looks to lead the offense this season after a career year in 2016 that saw the forward tally four goals and two assists. The Montclair, New Jersey, native started all 21 games for the Colonials and scored the golden goal against Duquesne in double overtime of the A-10 Championship quarterfinal to give GW a 2-1 victory.
“Brittany Cooper seems more focused than ever,” said Barnes. “I think she’s come into her senior season more fit than she’s ever been and I think so far her performance is showing that she’s prepared to really have a dynamic season. Thus far, she’s been really good on both sides of the ball, both from a defending standpoint and from an attacking standpoint. We’re really excited about Brit and think she will be the leader up front for us.”
With a solid core of returning players for 2017, the Colonials are excited to add depth to their roster and hope to contend as one of the top teams in the A-10.
“The older players are pushing the younger players in terms of demanding more from them and kind of showing them how we do things,” said Barnes. “The younger players are a group who can come in and push our older players to compete. I think it’s a really good dynamic between the two groups and while everyone is competing, one of the things that we’ve talked a lot about is the idea of competing with each other instead of competing against each other. We’re hopeful that that’s going to be something that helps propel us forward so we can really develop as a group and have a team that has a lot of depth. In 2015, when we went undefeated in conference, that was a big part of it.”
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