Women's Soccer Begins 2006 Season Friday Night
Aug. 24, 2006
The women's soccer team begins their march toward St. Louis and the A-10 Tournament Friday night when they travel to UMBC to kick off their 2006 campaign. The Retrievers are coming off a 9-8-1 (3-4-1) season that culminated in a trip to the postseason for the second time in their three years as a member of the America East Conference. Under new head coach Tara Koleski, UMBC will look to make another postseason run, led by first-team all-conference forward Jessica Young, second-team goalkeeper Catie Bukowski and honorable mention forward Amanda DiCarlo.
Friday night's game (7:00PM at UMBC Stadium in Baltimore) will mark the 11th meeting between these two schools, with GW holding a commanding 9-1 advantage. That one loss came last season in GW's home opener, when the Retrievers dropped the Colonials, 1-0. UMBC managed just four shots on goal that day (compared to 14 by GW), but earned the victory when DiCarlo scored in the 70th minute. Last year's match was the first meeting between the two schools in 10 years.
2006 SEASON PREVIEW:
The George Washington women's soccer team enters the 2006 season with many unknowns following the graduation of eight seniors. Head coach Tanya Vogel, in her seventh year at GW, welcomes four returning starters, including a pair of all-conference performers, and the chance to mold 17 sophomores and freshmen into a program capable of returning to the Atlantic 10 Tournament for the first time since 2002.
Vogel is expecting bigger and better things from a Colonials front line that generated less than a goal-per-game in 2005. This year's group of forwards boasts a solid mix of target players, speedsters and finishers that should provide GW with a much more potent offensive punch.
Juniors Kierra Colker and Jordan Sweeney and sophomore Meg Pyle are tall targets capable of holding and distributing the ball to their teammates, or turning and taking on a defender. Colker started three matches last fall and will look to replicate the form that earned her All-Tournament honors at the Diadora Classic in 2004. Sweeney notched her first collegiate goal at Howard last September and will look to increase her contributions. Pyle showed promise during her rookie season, playing in all 17 matches and notching her first goal. Combining her club experience with national power and New Jersey State Cup Champion PDA Stampede, Pyle is primed for a breakout sophomore season.
Joining Colker, Sweeney and Pyle up front are a quintet of newcomers. Simone Russo, Kris Guynn, Dara Rosen, Ilana Cohen and Ria Halkiotis will serve as the speedy complements to the GW attack. Vogel is particularly excited about the addition of Russo, who was red-shirted last season due to a knee injury. Guynn, also a Division I track recruit, and Rosen, a second team All-Met selection by the Washington Post in 2005, are expected to make an immediate impact, while the tenacious and versatile Cohen can fill a number of slots. Halkiotis, who led her team with 26 assists and was a member of WCAC All-Star team her senior year, joins the club after spending a year at Montgomery College.
The strength of the 2006 Colonials will lie in the midfield, which returns three starters. Junior Nicole Trickett and sophomores Kerry Philbin and Keara Mehlert will comprise the central midfield corps, serving as the initial link to the defense and the catalyst to the attack. Trickett has played in all 36 matches in her first two seasons and will provide leadership and stability in the middle. Philbin made a seamless transition from scholastic- to collegiate-level soccer last year, leading the team in scoring with nine points and four goals to earn second team All-Atlantic 10 and All-Rookie Team accolades. Mehlert, a former All-Met honorable mention performer, paced the Colonials with four assists in 17 matches played as a freshman. Both Philbin (Bethesda Excel) and Mehlert (Bethesda Eclipse) have spent their summer honing their skills with nationally ranked club teams and will enter preseason camp prepared to shine.
Sophomore Stephanie Covello and rookie Brittany Eger will compete for action at the outside midfield position. Both are athletic players with the stamina and discipline required to make overlapping runs and track back on defense.
Returning second team All-Atlantic 10 performer Shari Taylor will anchor the GW defensive unit. One of the top athletes in the A-10, Taylor has a combination of speed, tackling ability and one-on-one skill that not only make her an outstanding defender, but allow her to push forward, as witnessed by her four-goal outburst last season.
Fellow senior Molly Eckert has started in the Colonials backfield 10 times in her career. Her maturity, sound decision-making and long-ball services give Vogel added depth in the back.
Also returning to the backfield is sophomore Lauren Kelly, who made 14 starts and developed into a key component of the defense as a freshman. Kelly, a member of the Bethesda Excel club team, is an intelligent defender who makes very few mistakes and is lethal on lengthy free kicks.
Sophomore transfer Christy Mazzola comes to GW from regional power Loyola (MD) and has a spring semester worth of competition and interaction with her Colonials teammates. Mazzola, an offensive-minded back, appeared in 11 matches and registered an assist for the Greyhounds.
A huge gap was left between the posts following the loss of net-minding tandem Anna Handzlik and Kelly Paolucci to graduation. Enter the ultra-athletic Amie Kern, who has had two years to study the craft behind a pair of stellar goalies and is ready for her opportunity. Kern, who also walked-on to the women's basketball team last winter, has excellent hands and big-save capability. Rookie Deena Elmaghrabi will test Kern for time in goal.
The non-conference portion of the Colonials schedule, as described by Vogel, is one that provides a "tremendous challenge, but an excellent opportunity" for her young squad. Big East stalwarts Villanova and Georgetown have been added to the slate. The Wildcats and Hoyas combined for 22 victories and were ranked fifth and 14th, respectively, in the Mid-Atlantic region according to Soccer Buzz in 2005. GW will play other DC and Virginia foes Howard (9/6), James Madison (9/14) and American (9/19), as it did in 2005. JMU went 12-8-1 and finished eighth in the Mid-Atlantic region last season. The Colonials will also face Marshall and Morehead State in the Thundering Herd Nike Invitational in early September.
GW's conference schedule catches a break without defending champion Saint Louis, which finished its first Atlantic 10 season a perfect 10-0, and conference tournament qualifiers Duquesne and Saint Joseph's on the docket. However, the Colonials still have to travel for matches at league runner-up Rhode Island and Dayton, and play host to rival Richmond and Charlotte before stamping their ticket to St. Louis, MO, for the A-10 Championship in November.