PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's soccer team is hoping to build on the success of 2003 when the season kicks off this Saturday with a non-conference match at Emmanuel College.
The home opener at Panther Field in PSU's 16-game slate is next Wednesday, Sept. 8, against Norwich University (4:00 p.m.).
PSU had its most successful season under head coach Keith Scarlett in 2003, and Scarlett is hoping that the team will continue making strides in the right direction. The Panthers finished with a 10-7-1 overall record, and finished third in the LEC with a 5-2-0 mark. PSU also made its first post-season appearance in three years with a visit to the ECAC New England Tournament.
"I am very excited about this year's team, said Scarlett, who is in his fourth season at PSU. "I think we are better and stronger from top to bottom, and we play with more of a total team effort. We should be solid all over the field."
2004 PSU Women's Soccer Outlook
The Panthers welcome back 14 veterans from last year's squad, including seven starters. Scarlett is also excited about the group of newcomers.
"This is a new team but we can learn from last year's success," said Scarlett. "We have a lot of returning players who came close to reaching higher success last year. Being that close has driven them to work even harder. They are very hungry and are determined to take it that one step further. Plus, we have some talented newcomers who could step in and make a difference right away."
The strength and experience of last year's team was on the defensive end of the field, led by All-Conference seniors Katie Sheridan (LEC Defensive Player of the Year) and Cathy Berei. This year, it's the offensive unit that Scarlett will look to while the young defensive unit works to replace Sheridan and Berei.
Leading the cast of forwards is sophomore Krista Pettrey (Northfield, Vt.), who led the team in scoring in 2003 and was one of the conference scoring leaders. Classmate Mary Kate Cunningham (Holden, Mass.) also gained valuable experience last fall. Scarlett expects a couple of newcomers, like freshmen Jaimee Coombs (Peabody, Mass.) and Brooke Tanger (Lebanon, Conn.) and sophomore Kara Arnold (Wolfeboro, N.H.) to contribute as well.
"One of the exciting things about this team is that we should be able to score goals," Scarlett said. "We have several players who know how to put the ball in the back of the net."
PSU has several key returning veterans in the midfield, led by juniors Melissa Erwin (Newington, Conn.) and Casey Bishop (Topsham, Maine) and sophomores Kelsey MacDonald (Oak Bluffs, Mass.) and Kelsey McBride (Brookline, N.H.). Junior Meagen Leenig (East Fishkill, N.Y.) can also step in and do the job.
"Last year, these ladies controlled our team on both offense and defense," Scarlett said. "All of them are talented and can help us on either end of the field."
Sophomore Kristin McNiff (Chelmsford, Mass.) and senior Amy Smith (Gilford, N.H.) also have the potential to help out, and newcomers Meghann McKenney (Hubbardston, Mass.) and Georgia Rooney (Kent, Conn.) have shown promise.
Sophomore Allison Frobey (Sandy Hook, Conn.), who started all 18 matches at sweeper last season, is the only returning starter on the Panther defense. Frobey will be relied up to help mold a group of young, new defenders. Junior Kelli Langran (Marlton, N.J.) and sophomore Ashley Lamell (Randolph, Vt.) are returnees who could see time, but they will get a battle for playing time from freshmen AnneMarie Bobon (Middletown, Del.), Jamie Brown (Franklin, Mass.), Casey Ellis (Nashua, N.H.) and Jordan Mayhew (Jamaica Plain, Mass.) or junior Katherine Dujnic (Grafton, Mass.).
PSU has both goalkeepers back from last season. Junior Hayley Quinones (Waitsfield, Vt.) has started 24 games over the past two years, posting seven shutouts, while classmate Beth McAloon (Bedford, N.H.) was solid in her seven starts last fall.
"We should be balanced," Scarlett said. "I don't believe we will have a weakness anywhere on the field. It won't be an easy season, but we'll take things one day at a time and see what happens."
-- 30 --