GW Women's Soccer 2014 Season Preview
Colonials Look to Reach A-10 Championship for Second Consecutive Season
WASHINGTON – The George Washington women’s soccer team returns to the pitch this weekend to kick off its 2014 campaign under the direction of third-year Head Coach Sarah Barnes.
The Colonials look to reach new heights and expand upon last year’s success as it saw significant improvements both on the offensive and defense ends from 2012. From Coach Barnes’ first to second season at the helm of the program, GW saw noticeable progress that included a two-win improvement while the squad cut its losses in half.
The Colonials’ defense was a force to be reckoned with last season as it allowed 12 fewer goals scored against from 2012 and limited its conference foes to just four goals combined, compared to 18 goals against the season prior. After eight shutouts on the season – the most clean sheets in 19 years – Coach Barnes believes that solid team defense is the key to success.
“We try to defend from the front to the back. Our forwards have a defensive role to try and make plays predictable, while our midfielders also play a significant part,” said Coach Barnes. “When we play and defend as a unit, we are very effective.”
GW returns 24 letterwinners to the squad that went 7-6-5 overall and 3-3-2 in conference play in 2013. With the addition of seven highly touted newcomers, the Colonials are poised to return to the conference championship for the second straight year after earning a bid last season for the first time since 2001.
“We believe that we can be a consistent A-10 Championship contender,” Coach Barnes said. “If we go into every game focused and do what we need to do, we are going to be successful.”
Breaking down the Colonials by position:
A pair of sophomores highlight GW’s top returning attackers in MacKenzie Cowley and Lina Proska, who each tallied three goals and an assist for seven points on the season. Coach Barnes believes a number of players on the front line have the ability to score and will look to seniors Taylor Katz and Meg Murphy, junior Kyla Ridley and rookie Brittany Cooper.
“Our front line is looking to play off each other more,” Coach Barnes said. “We have really focused on breaking down defenses and final ball passing so we give ourselves a better chance for a good look at the goal.”
The quartet of juniors Kristi Abbate, Brooke Bean, redshirt junior Nicole Belfonti and sophomore Kate Elson will be essential to the midfield for the Colonials. Bean (2g) and Elson (1g, 2a) each recorded four points last season while Belfonti (1g, 1a) tallied three points. Abbate, a 2013 A-10 All-Conference Second Team and 2014 Preseason All-Conference selection, dished out two assists for two points last season.
“We have a very strong midfield and it is a very competitive area for our team,” said Coach Barnes. “We know we have several players who are able to play on both sides of the ball and that will raise the level play for everyone on our team.”
Reigning team MVP and A-10 Preseason All-Conference selection senior Alex Brothers will man the back line alongside classmates Madison Davis and MacKenzie McIndoe. Coach Barnes will also look to senior Elizabeth Casey and rookie Danielle Snajder to contribute significant minutes.
“It’s great to have a lot of talent in our defense,” Coach Barnes said. “Alex understands tactically how to defend and technically she is great at starting the attack. MacKenzie and Madison have both done a great job in preseason and we will look to them to be a steady defensive presence. Casey has shown us how effective she can be and Danielle is a solid and consistent player.”
Redshirt freshman Miranda Horn returns for GW this season and will immediately be put to the test in goal. With the addition of junior transfer Ellen Conway and freshman Monica Thom, the Colonials have solidified a firm unit between the posts.
“Miranda performed well in the spring as well as in preseason and has earned the starting spot in goal,” said Coach Barnes. “Ellen and Monica both have good experience and continue to get better each day, so they will definitely provide a competitive edge throughout the year.”
GW opens 2014 at home on Friday, Aug. 22 with a home match against Mount St. Mary’s. Action at the GW Soccer Field on the Mount Vernon Campus is slated for 5 p.m.
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