PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University women's soccer team plays four of its first five games this season on home turf, beginning this Thursday, Sept. 4, with a non-conference home game at Panther Field (4:30 p.m.) against Green Mountain College.
After a visit to New England College for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff this Saturday (Sept. 6), PSU will be home again on consecutive Tuesdays, Sept. 9 and 16, to host Simmons College and Colby-Sawyer College. The Little East Conference opener is at Panther Field on Saturday, Sept. 20, against Eastern Connecticut State University.
Plymouth State has shown improvement under fourth-year head coach Gene Smith, increasing the team's win total the past two seasons. The Panthers finished with an 8-9-0 overall record last year, and tied for fifth in the conference with a 3-4-0 mark. PSU is looking to break into the top four teams this year and earn home-field advantage for the first round of the LEC Tournament.
The Panthers will play a 17-game regular season schedule in 2008, including seven Little East Conference contests. The annual LEC Tournament is slated for the first week of November, with the champion receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament.
Plymouth State is seeking its first LEC Women's Soccer championship since capturing seven straight conference titles from 1990-96.
2008 PSU Women's Soccer Outlook
The Panthers have 10 veterans back who have gained solid collegiate experience, and Coach Smith is impressed with the group of newcomers.
"We graduated only two seniors, so we have a lot of solid experienced returning players," said Smith (right), "and now with the newcomers, we have exceptional depth as well. The freshmen are a very strong class."
Smith says the midfield is where the Panthers have the most returning players and should stabilize the team. The offense is a combination of veterans and newcomers, the defense will have a bit of a new look, and there will be a new face in goal.
"We've definitely added some scoring punch," said Smith. "The defense is an area where we have to fill in some gaps, and I'm very pleased with our goalkeepers so far."
The two co-captains -- senior Kelsea Anderson (Rye, N.H./Portsmouth) and junior Lauren Lavery (Nashua, N.H./Nashua South) -- should anchor the midfield group for PSU. Anderson is a three-year starter (when healthy) who should also see time at defense, where she has played the majority of her career. Lavery is a two-year starter who finished third on the team in scoring last year with 13 points (three goals and a team-high seven assists).
Junior Gianna Minervini (Point Pleasant, N.J./Point Pleasant Boro) is also a returning starter who will contribute in the midfield, while sophomores Sarah Daglis (Berlin, Conn.) and Rachel Kindl (Granby, Conn.) could be factors. Freshmen Sarah Pandiscio (Simsbury, Conn.) and Amy Green (Atkinson, N.H./Timberlane) have shown the most promise among the newcomers.
Sophomore Jess Babino (Scarborough, Maine) and junior Jen Mooney (Whitman, Mass./Whitman-Hanson) are returning starters on defense and should backbone the group. Anderson and Daglis can also drop back from midfield, and Coach Smith is hoping a newcomer or two emerges.
The Panthers will go with a pair of freshman goalkeepers. Stephanie Regina (Howell, N.J.) and Angelina LaBroad (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet) have both been impressive in preseason, and both will get a chance to prove themselves, according to Smith.
Junior Stacy DiSabato (Manchester, N.H./Central) leads a group of forwards who will be counted on to put the ball in the net. She has 12 goals and six assists in her career, and led the team in scoring as a freshman and finished second.last year. Sophomore Rebecca Wilson (Clinton, Conn./Morgan School) could also contribute; she missed all of last season with an injury. Senior Nicole Bedard (Hudson, N.H./Alvirne) could help out after moving to forward from her defensive position.
The top newcomers to the offense include Charlotte Miller (Bedford, N.H./Bishop Brady), Julia Redman (Plaistow, N.H./Timberlane Regional) and Eliza Roy-Webb (Durham, N.H./Oyster River).
"We had a semi-successful season last year," said Smith. "We made improvements but we could have done better. We narrowly missed having a home game for the first round of the LEC playoffs. Our returning players remember that, and are working very hard. We hope to have a higher finish this year."
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