Panthers kick off campaign at Colby-Sawyer Tourney
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The 2011 Plymouth State University women's soccer season kicks off this weekend when the Panthers participate in the Colby-Sawyer College Labor Day Tournament with three other Granite State schools.
PSU opens up against New England College Saturday at 12 noon, and comes back Sunday against host Colby-Sawyer at 2:30 p.m. Rivier College squares off with Colby-Sawyer in Saturday's second game at 2:30 and in the opener Sunday at noon against NEC.
|Head Coach Cindy Bennett|
The Panthers will play their first home game on Saturday, Sept. 10, against Castleton State College at 1:00 p.m. The Panthers will open Little East Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 17, at home against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Second year-head coach Cindy Bennett, who was an assistant at Colby-Sawyer before coming to PSU prior to last season, has 17 returning veterans from last year's squad along with five newcomers. The Panthers finished with a 7-11-0 overall record last year, the team's most wins in three years, and tied for fifth place in the Little East with a 2-5 mark.
The Panthers will play a 16-game regular season schedule in 2011, including seven Little East 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.
2011 PSU Women's Soccer Outlook
Coach Bennett and the team have a year together under their belts, and that has led to a successful preseason; Coach Bennett is hoping that carries over into the regular season.
"Having a year together has done us all well, me included," said Bennett. "The team has an understanding of what I expect and what they need to do to be successful. We have a good core of upperclassmen, and if we can perform and do what we're capable of, we should have an amazing season."
The Panthers have relied on a strong defense in recent years, and Coach Bennett expects that trend to continue.
"We've always been pretty good defensively and I think we will be again this year," said Bennett. "Our problem has been finding a way to score goals. We're going to play a different formation that may allow us to score more, get us out of that defensive mode and do a little more on the attacking end."
PSU has a pair of solid defenders to anchor the back line in senior co-captains Sarah Pandiscio and Amy Green. Both have been four-year starters and Pandiscio earned All-LEC honors last season. Senior co-captain Katie Lozano is a top-notch defender who is returning from an injury. The Panthers also have senior Kelsey Marvin and sophomore Shannon Snively, who can both play on defense or in the midfield.
Coach Bennett has both returning goalkeepers back from last year. Senior Angelina LaBroad started 15 games last year and has 35 career starts, while senior Courtney Lins joined the team last year and is challenging for the starting position this fall.
Senior Sammi Jo Saltalamacchia should lead the cast of experienced midfielders, according to Bennett. Saltalamacchia was second on the team last year with five goals. She could be joined by sophomores Laura Davis and Anna Lozano or senior Charlotte Miller. Coach Bennett may also look to sophomores Carol Messler, Molly Todd and Cassie Graham in the midfield.
The Panthers return their leading scorer from a year ago in senior Sam Laliberte. She scored nine goals in her first year with the team and will be looked to again this year. Freshman Kate Nixon has been impressive in preseason and has the potential to score goals for PSU, according to Bennett.
"This team continues to inspire me and they are a great group of hardworking individuals," said Bennett. "We have talented soccer player but more importantly successful people. We've gotten a lot better since last year, both in terms of our technical ability and our comfort level on the ball. I have no doubt that we are going to continue to improve throughout the season and I see fantastic things in this team's future."
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