PLYMOUTH, N.H. - There will be a new look on the sidelines at Plymouth State College women's soccer games this season, but the product on the field is expected to remain the same.
A former All-American sweeper for the Panthers, and a PSC assistant coach for four years, Beth Field now takes over the program as head coach. She played in four NCAA Tournaments as a player, and has coached in two NCAA and two ECAC play-offs as an assistant coach.
Field makes her debut this Saturday (Sept. 5) at Panther Field when Plymouth State kicks off the season at 11:00 a.m. against SUNY-Plattsburgh. The Panthers should again challenge to be one of the top teams in New England, seeking its second straight NCAA bid and 11th in 13 years. Field returns seven starters and seven other veterans from last year's team, which hosted the NCAA New England regional and finished with a 15-2-1 record.
"There will not be that big of a transition because I've been a coach here for three years," said Field, who played at PSC from 1988-91 and led the team to a combined 62-10-1 record. "We've gone to a different formation this year to take advantage of our strengths, which is up the middle."
PSC and in-state rival Keene State tied in the 1998 LEC pre-season poll, as selected by the head coaches. The Panthers and Owls each received three first-place votes, and defending champion Western Connecticut, which was picked third, received the other two top votes. WCSU won last year's title with a 7-0 mark, while Keene State was second at 6-1 and Plymouth State third at 5-2.
The Panthers are looking to regain the Little East title, which they lost in 1997 after winning seven straight championships from 1990-96. Field thinks she has a close knit group who "knows what it takes to get there. The first stepping stone is to win your conference, then be recognized in the region, and then the post-season is the next step." Saturday's game is the first of 10 home games this season for PSC, including key regional battles against Williams and Bowdoin and a big Homecoming clash against arch-rival Keene State. PSC plays five straight at Panther Field from Sept. 19th to Oct. 3rd, an important stretch that includes Williams, Bridgewater State, Keene State, Gordon and Western Connecticut.
1998 P.S.C. WOMEN'S SOCCER OUTLOOK
The top three scorers from 1997 return for PSC, led by sophomore forward Carrie Poulin (Westfield, MA), who returns after a sensational freshman season. She broke the school scoring record with 22 goals in her 18 games, earning LEC Rookie of the Year and Second Team All-America honors. Joining her on the front line will be junior Caitlin Cook (Cutchogue, NY), who was second on the team and eighth in the conference with nine goals and six assists. She is, according to Field, "probably the hardest worker on the team. She is such a key to our success. She's a huge key for Carrie, too."
Senior Lindsay Audette (Belchertown, MA) could also see increased playing time up front, according to Field. Top freshman candidates include Brooke Smith (Columbia, SC), Beth Dooly (Manchester, NH) and Jill Wolters (Sussex, NJ).
Junior Erin Pepe (Franklin, MA) returns as a midfield starter, where she is expected to be involved a lot. Pepe is a good ball distributor, according to Field, who is possession oriented and fights back when she loses it. Senior Kellie Biggs (Weymouth, MA) has been a part-time player for a couple of years and could step into a starting role. Field says sophomore Kim Koscielecki (Swampscott, MA) will also be in the mix, and Audette can play in the midfield. Top newcomers include Susan Argereow (North Yarmouth, ME), Christina Johnson (Auburn, MA) and Meghan White (Burlington, MA).
Juniors Jackie Blanchard (Plymouth, MA) and Tara Dickson (Vernon, NJ) will anchor what should be an outstanding defense. Blanchard earned All-New England honors in '97 and will play sweeper, and Dickson has received All-New England and All-LEC honors as a forward but will play stopper this season. Sophomore Mary Young (Rockland, MA) is penciled in as starter at left back. Several candidates could start at right back, including senior captain Kristen Maloney (Millis, MA), a reserve last fall, and Faith Whalen (Hampstead, NH), who sat out last season.
Sophomore Lisa Goldberg (Newton, MA) took over as starter midway through her freshman season, posted a 9-1-1 record with five shutouts and earned All-New England honors. She certainly would appear to have the inside track on the job, but Field says senior captain Alyssa Sadowski (Middleton, MA) has worked hard from the broken ankle that kept her out of the '97 season and could steal the job. Moira Grady (Clinton, MA) and Rebecca Kennedy (West Springfield, MA) are strong freshmen.
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