Aug. 16, 2012
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WASHINGTON - In her inaugural season as head coach of the George Washington women's soccer team, Sarah Barnes and the Colonials will take the pitch for the 2012 season opener on the road at district rival Georgetown on Friday, Aug. 17. Game time is slated for 3 p.m. at the Hoyas' North Kehoe Field.
Barnes - who took over the program in December following a four-year standout career at Connecticut and coaching posts at her alma mater and Texas - guided GW to a 1-0 win over Delaware in an exhibition match on Sunday in the squad's first action of the season.
Friday marks the third straight year, and fifth time overall, that the Colonials and the Hoyas will match up in the season opener. GW looks to snap a five-year skid with Georgetown as GU owns a 7-1 advantage in the all-time series.
Having lost just three players to graduation from last season's squad, the Colonials return 21 letterwinners and nine starters and welcome 11 newcomers. GW's leading scorer in 2011, midfielder Adriana Moya (3 g, 3 a) returns to the lineup for her final season with the Buff and Blue. Moya scored the Colonials' lone goal in Sunday's 1-0 exhibition win over the Blue Hens.
Big East foe Georgetown is coming off a successful 2011 regular season in which it posted a 15-6 overall record and a second-place finish in the league's American Division. The Hoyas return sophomore Daphne Corboz, who was named to the All-Big East Preseason Team following All-Conference Third Team and All-Rookie selections during her freshman campaign.
Fans can follow action via live stats as well as updates from the @GW_Soccer Twitter handle.
2012 GW WOMEN'S SOCCER SEASON PREVIEW
With a brand new coaching staff at the helm of the program, a slew of experienced veterans and a roster full of depth, the George Washington women's soccer team looks to improve upon a 5-12-2 finish from one season ago and a 2-5-2 mark in the Atlantic 10.
For the past 18 years Barnes has established a winning tradition at both her alma mater, Connecticut, as well as Texas, and alongside assistant coaches Marla Nelson and Emma Wright, the staff looks for winning to become a habit for the Colonials. In her last 18 seasons as both a student-athlete and an assistant coach, Barnes has amassed an impressive 17 NCAA Tournament appearances.
"The team was young last year so coming into this season we have a lot more experience," Barnes said. "We have a large team with a lot of depth so we are not limited at any position. We are going to be very competitive this year and we look forward to facing any challenges that come our way."
After losing just three players from the 2011 squad and with the addition of 11 newcomers, the Colonials' bench is full of strength heading into 2012. The Buff and Blue - which returns top scorers Adriana Moya, Taylor Katz and Alex Neal, in addition to Second Team All-Conference selection Samie Cloutier - looks to earn a spot in the A-10 Championship for the first time since 2008, as the league has now implemented an eight-team, three-day tournament format.
"We play a lot of quality teams throughout the year, like La Salle, which made it to the NCAA Tournament last year, and Massachusetts and Richmond, which were on the verge of at-large bids," said Barnes. "As we face tougher competition we will continue to develop. If we can stay consistent on both sides of the ball, we will show what we are capable of."
Veterans Claire Haft, Alex Neal and Kayley Sullivan are poised to lead the front line this fall. Neal logged 18 starts in 19 games while tallying five points (2 g, 1 a) last year, while Haft appeared in every contest with six starts and Sullivan came off the bench in 14 games and logged two starts.
With the speed and scoring ability from sophomore Taylor Katz, in addition to freshmen Kristi Abbate and Kyla Ridley, the Colonials are poised to have a threatening offense.
"We have a lot of players that can play the attack position, we just need to work on putting the ball in the net," Barnes said. "The forward line needs to step up and be dangerous in front of the goal. When we generate goals - we can win."
The senior duo of Molly Bruh and Adriana Moya will anchor the midfield in different roles this season. Bruh will serve as the connecting piece between the defensive and forward lines, while Moya is expected to create plays and attack the goal.
"Molly is great at being an organizer for both sides of the field. She is a holding player that helps the ball move from the back line to the front," said Barnes. "Moya strikes the ball really well and she has a great understanding of the game. We expect her to be dominant in the attack."
Rookies Amanda Gaggioli, Brooke Stoller and Chouassi Tshimanga join the pair in the midfield. Gaggioli brings speed and finesse while Stoller can push the ball up the field for goal-scoring opportunities, and Tshimanga excels in finding the back of the net.
All-Conference Second Team selection Samie Cloutier, alongside junior Melanie Keer, will man the defensive line for the Colonials. Cloutier - a three-year starter - has proven to be one of the most dominant defenders in the league with her vocal ability to guide the team from the back of the pitch. Keer - a two-year starter - is a solid middle defender, while sophomores Alex Brothers and MacKenzie McIndoe and junior Jane Wallis control the sidelines.
"We have a solid group in the back that possesses a lot of experience," Barnes said. "I am confident that as the season progresses our defense will stop a lot of offensive attempts at our goal."
GW looks for junior Nicole Ulrick to have a breakout season after making her first collegiate start and appearance in 2011. With four games and two starts under her belt, Ulrick made nine stops between the pipes and registered an .818 save percentage. Freshman Nicole Fasano will back up Ulrik in the net.
"Nicole Ulrick has spent the past two years preparing for this opportunity and she came into preseason really fit and sharp," Coach Barnes said. "Nicole Fasano works hard every day to challenge and push not only herself, but Nicole Ulrick as well. I have confidence in both of these keepers."
The Colonials will face Atlantic 10 newcomers VCU and Butler, as well as NCAA Tournament qualifier La Salle as part of an 18-match schedule, highlighted by nine home contests and three first-ever program matchups.
GW opens the 2012 season with back-to-back road contests at crosstown rival Georgetown and local foe George Mason on Friday, Aug. 17 and Friday, Aug. 24. The Colonials open home action by hosting two consecutive first-ever matches against Ivy League members Columbia (Sept. 1) and Cornell (Sept. 3) for the D.C. Invitational, then hit the road to Annapolis, Md. for the Navy Invitational, where GW will face Towson (Sept. 7) and Rider (Sept. 9).
The Buff and Blue continue their travels at Liberty (Sept. 14) before returning home to the GW Soccer Field on the Mount Vernon Campus for five straight matches. The Colonials wrap up non-conference play against local opponents American (Sept. 18) and Howard (Sept 21).
Atlantic 10 play opens in late September when GW welcomes Richmond (Sept. 28) and VCU (Sept. 30) to its home turf. The Colonials close out their five-game home stretch with a match against Charlotte (Oct. 6) before traveling to La Salle (Oct. 12) and Fordham (Oct. 14). GW completes its conference road schedule at Rhode Island (Oct. 19) and Massachusetts (Oct. 21) before finishing the regular season at home against Butler (Oct. 26) in for the first-ever match between the two squads, and versus Saint Louis (Oct. 28).
Of the nine Atlantic 10 opponents the Colonials face this this season, five finished in the top half of the 2011 final conference standings: La Salle (first), Richmond (second), Massachusetts (fourth), Charlotte (sixth) and Fordham (seventh).