PLYMOUTH, N.H.- The actual tournament is still two months away, but the Plymouth State College women's soccer players may have the NCAA tournament on their minds when they open the season Saturday, and often during the season.
The Panthers begin the festivities this Saturday, Sept. 6th, against St. Michael's College at Panther Field. It also begins the third season for head coach Marti Kingsley.
"Our focus is to make it to the NCAA Tournament, "said Kingsley, who is 26-10-5 at PSC. "We'll do that by performing one game at a time."
The Panthers have seven starters returning from last year's team that finished 11-7-2 overall and captured the Little East Conference championship for the seventh straight year. PSC was the second place choice in the 1997 LEC pre-season poll behind newcomer and in-state rival Keene State, the Owls receiving 4.5 first place votes, the Panthers 3.5, and third-rated Western Connecticut one.
"We have three critical factors," said Kingsley. "We have speed, we have technique and we have depth in just about every position. With those three things we should have an excellent year."
This season's co-captains, seniors Paula Dudley (Windham, NH) and Cece Glover (Hanover, NH) will carry on the strong defensive effort by Plymouth State established in recent years. Sophomore back Jackie Blanchard (Plymouth, MA) has looked particularly strong in the pre-season. They will all have to help out, because PSC will be inexperienced in goal following the graduation of All-New England keeper Jamie Wilhite. Sophomore Tanya Rej (Northbridge, MA) is the only returnee in the Panther net.
Leading the offensive effort in '97 will be a pair of sophomores who gained valuable experience last season. Tara Dickson (Sussex, NJ), a Third Team All-New England pick, led the team in scoring in '96 with nine goals and five assists after moving to the offense mid-way through the season. She should lead the offense again this season with the help of Second-Team All-LEC player Erin Pepe (Franklin, MA), who scored four goals and two assists. Joining the two will be three year standout midfielder Danielle Paradis (Londonderry, NH), who notched four goals and three assists. Paradis played notably well in the pre-season, according to Kingsley. Also expected to make contributions is Melanie Jones (Bradford, NH), who tallied three goals and five assists as a freshman in '96.
The top newcomers look to be freshman forwards Carrie Poulin (Westfield, MA) and Mary Young (Rockland, MA).
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