PLYMOUTH, N.H. - A new era in women's soccer begins at Plymouth State College this weekend when the Panthers kick off the 2001 campaign under new head coach Keith Scarlett.
PSC travels to Colchester, Vt., for the season debut, participating in the Radisson Kick-Off Classic. The Panthers will face host Saint Michael's College in the opener Saturday (Sept. 1) at 2:00 p.m., and come back Sunday (Sept. 2) at 2:00 p.m. against Saint Anselm College. After another road contest next Wednesday (Sept. 5) at Bridgewater State (3:30 p.m.), the Panthers will make their home debut on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 2 p.m. against nationally-ranked Wheaton College.
Another highlight of the home opener on Sept. 8th is the "Celebration of Success," an affair following the game when PSC will honor the women's soccer teams from 1986-94. Those nine teams qualified for the first nine NCAA Division III Tournaments, one of only two schools in the nation to accomplish the feat.
The Panthers will play a rugged 16-match regular season schedule, including six consecutive home contests in September. The Little East Conference play-offs begin on Tuesday, Oct. 23rd, with the LEC Champion being crowned on Saturday, Oct. 27th, and earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
2001 PSC Women's Soccer Outlook
It will be a veteran look on the field and a new presence on the sideline when Plymouth State takes the field in 2001.
Scarlett has 18 veterans returning for what the Panthers hope will be a successful season this fall. PSC is hoping to make a post-season appearance for the 18th time in the last 19 seasons.
"We lost only three players from last year," said Scarlett, who came to PSC from Ferrum College (Va.). "We have an experienced senior class, and their leadership has been evident throughout the summer and the pre-season."
The Panthers finished 10-8-2 overall last season and 4-2-1 in the Little East Conference, earning a berth in the ECAC New England Tournament. Scarlett has his sights set on leading the Panthers to the LEC Championship for the first time since 1996, and their first berth in the NCAA Tournament since 1997.
"Things will be done differently this season, and there's the excitement in the program with the change," said Scarlett. "We want to re-establish the tradition of PSC being a dominant women's soccer program. I've been calling it a continuation of a dynasty, but we also want to create our own tradition. Winning the Little East is the big thing."
The key loss from last season is the graduation of All-Conference sweeper Mary Young, but Scarlett is encouraged by the returning veterans on defense. The starting point will be senior goalkeeper Becky Kennedy (West Springfield, Mass.)
"We've got the best keeper in the conference, and one of the best in New England," said Scarlett. "That's what I've been told by other coaches, so we're looking for Becky to lead our defense. Replacing Mary Young will be a challenge, because it's such a central spot."
Senior Jill Wolters (Vernon, N.J.) is the top returning defender, although she will likely move to forward, where she played as a freshman. Other returning veterans on defense include sophomores Kristen Hurley (Norfolk, Mass.), Kate Van Tassel (Natick, Mass.) and Becky Callery (Gill, Mass.) and junior Katie West (Goffstown, N.H.). Freshman Chris Riendeau (Danville, Vt.) is the top newcomer, and could find herself in a starting role.
The midfield position will be key in Scarlett's system, and the coach has several veterans he could turn to. Junior Sandra Petlick (New Castle, N.H.), who played forward her first two seasons, will likely move into the center midfield spot. Sophomore Cathy Berei (Pennington, N.J.) earned All-Conference honors in her rookie season, and will be joined by seniors Krisy Menard (Franklin, Vt.) and Beth Dooly (Goffstown, N.H.), sophomores Katie Sheridan (West Sayville, N.Y.) and Lauren Oberholtzer (Nashua, N.H.) and graduate student Erin Fitzgerald (Mansfield, Conn.). The top newcomers look like Michelle Dubois (Auburn, Maine) and Rachel Lewis (Oakland, Maine).
Offensively, Scarlett is hoping for a healthy season from senior Carrie Poulin (Westfield, Mass.), a returning All-New England selection. She was an All-American in 1997 and led the team in scoring last season with 15 goals. The Panthers will also look to Wolters, as well as senior Susan Argereow (North Yarmouth, Maine) and sophomore Natasha Thorne (Melrose, Mass.). Freshman Erin Tarrant (Brookfield, Conn.) could also step in and contribute.
"We play a challenging schedule, especially in the first half of the season when we play three of four top 20 teams," said Scarlett. "We also have the challenge of learning a new system, but it's a system that should make us successful. We think it will help us have a winning season."