Panthers kick off campaign at Colby-Sawyer Tourney
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – For the second year in a row, the Plymouth State University women's soccer team kicks off the season against Granite State competition at the Colby-Sawyer College Labor Day Tournament.
PSU opens play Friday at 4:30 p.m. against New England College and comes back Sunday to meet host Colby-Sawyer at 2:30 p.m. Rivier College squares off with Colby-Sawyer Friday at 2:00 and faces NEC Sunday at noon.
|Head Coach Cindy Bennett|
The Panthers will play their first home game on Saturday, Sept. 8, against Bridgewater State University at 4:30 p.m. PSU opens Little East Conference play on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Third-year head coach Cindy Bennett has 10 returning veterans on this year's squad, compared to 17 returnees last fall. The Panthers also have 10 talented newcomers who will be looking to make an impact.
Plymouth State will play a competitive 17-game regular season schedule in 2012, 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.
2012 PSU Women's Soccer Outlook
After graduating 10 seniors from last year's team, Coach Bennett and the team have worked hard during the off-season as a new squad emerges. The newcomers have blended in nicely, according to the coach, and the team is starting to come together.
"We're young and we're green," said Bennett, "but they're picking things up pretty well. Being so young, it's going to take some time, but we're doing well. We have a good core of returnees, both as people and as players; they're good leaders to take the reins and help the new people along."
Bennett says the new players have been attack-minded, which has been a boost to the team. Now it's a matter of "getting everyone in their roles."
Leading the way for the Panthers should be junior co-captains Laura Davis (Pelham, N.Y./Pelham) and Shannon Snively (Fremont, N.H./Sanborn Regional). Davis is a strong midfielder who was one of the leading scorers on the team last year, while Snively is the leader of the defense.
"With so many young players, they are going to be big keys for us," said Bennett. "We will look to them for big contributions both on and off the field."
PSU has several veterans who could join Davis in the midfield, including juniors Julie Behan (Laconia, N.H./Laconia), Sam D'Agati (Reading, Mass./Reading) and Carol Messler (Durham, N.H./Oyster River). Bennett says one or two of the newcomers could also see some playing time.
The Panthers hope to capitalize on outstanding speed on the team, particularly at forward. Bennett says look for junior Molly Todd (Epsom, N.H./Bishop Brady) and sophomore Emily Bell (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) to lead the way, along with junior Cassie Graham (Foster, R.I./Ponaganset) and sophomore Kate Nixon (Wakefield, Mass.). Freshman Latisha Bodge (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding) has also been impressive in preseason.
The defense will have a different look with two new goalkeepers and several new backs alongside Snively. Senior transfer Chelsea Duval (Dover, N.H./Dover) is emerging as the starter in goal, while freshmen Meghan Catania (Billerica, Mass./Billerica Memorial), Mariah Gilbert (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) and Casey Chabot (Waterford, Conn./Waterford) have been impressive along the defensive back line. Sophomore Courtney Barker (Yarmouth, Maine/Yarmouth) could also step in.
Bennett says the Little East presents a tough challenge for the Panthers, but one they're prepared to meet.
"After the traditional top teams, there's a whole group of teams that are very evenly matched," said Bennett. "Depending upon who shows up on any given day, any game is one we can win. If we come to play each game and do what we're capable of, I'm excited about the possibilities."
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