WOMEN'S SOCCER LOOKS TO EXTEND AE TOURNAMENT APPEARANCE STREAK TO 10, CAPTURE FIRST CONFERENCE TITLE IN 2010
DURHAM, N.H. - The University of New Hampshire women's soccer program extended its streak of consecutive America East Championship tournament appearances to nine last season, breaking the all-time conference record. But after consecutive quarterfinal round exits, the Wildcats will look to regain their place as one of the league's elite teams in 2010. With 19 returning letterwinners and six skilled newcomers hitting town, head coach Michael Jackson and his staff are hopeful they possess the pieces to make a run back into the tournament.
With the graduation of leading scorers Shaunna Kaplan (3g, 3a last season) and Morgan Keefe (3g, 4a), the Wildcats bring back 54 percent (25 of 46 points) of their offense, and 10 of their 14 scorers from last seasons, including returning leading scorer Monique Lamotte. The sophomore midfielder is one of the most dynamic athletes on the roster and will be counted upon to carry some of the scoring load after recording five points on two goals and an assist en route to earning America East All-Conference Second Team and All-Rookie honors. Senior Amy Avitabile and junior Steph Gilkenson will also be key cogs in the midfield after coming off injury-plagued seasons in which they combined for just one point. Senior tri-captain Cassie Guerra, who tallied a goal and assist last season, along with senior tri-captain Ashley Avitabile, whose leadership, mobility and goal-scoring mentality will be important for the Wildcats in the middle, will also play important roles in the midfield. Senior Carole LeBlanc, in addition to junior Alli Rozelle and sophomore Allie Coppenrath, who each netted their first career goals last season, will provide even more midfield depth with freshmen Tara Fraprie and Kristi Zarrilli. The 5-foot-6-inch Fraprie, out of Farmington, Conn., was a four-year letterwinner at Farmington High School where she captained the squad her senior year. Fraprie helped guide FHS to the Class L state finals her sophomore year, as well as a conference championship three-peat from her freshman to junior year. The 5-6 Zarrilli, out of Gorham, Maine, was a four-year letterwinner at Gorham High School where she captained the team her senior year. Zarrilli netted 39 goals during her career, which featured state titles her freshman and sophomore seasons, a spot in the state finals her junior season and Western Maine championships her freshman through junior seasons.
The Wildcats will possess a versatile attack up front, with juniors Alyssa Michel and Brooke Duchaney, who both scored their first goals in a Wildcat uniform after transferring in last summer, combining with sophomores Drea Nogueira, who appeared in eight games last season, and Chelsea Kuss, who joins the Wildcats after transferring from Division III Nazareth College, to form a front line that can score in a variety of ways. The 5-7 Kuss, a native of Warners, N.Y., started all 19 games last season and was selected to the Empire 8 All-Star Second Team after ranking second on the squad in scoring with 10 points on three goals and four assists. Kuss was a four-year letterwinner at West Genesee High School in Camillus, N.Y., where she scored 72 goals and handed out 45 assists.
The 'Cats return seven of the 11 members from last year's defensive unit, which allowed just 1.47 goals per game and more than two tallies in a single match just twice. Senior tri-captain Marika Posehn, juniors Kelly Mooney and Jordyn Krall and sophomore Kelly Spencer will anchor the backfield, which will be counted on to help protect the three young goalkeepers on the roster. Posehn and Krall, who could also see time in the midfield, tallied the first points of their career last season on a goal and two assists and a goal and an assist, respectively, while Mooney made the America East All-Conference Second Team and Spencer was very impressive in her rookie season. Junior walk-on Taylor Finley, who continues to improve, and sophomores Lyndsay Pallotta and Grace Marden will all provide depth in the back along with three newcomers. Junior Jill Brown, who missed all but two games last season, will continue to try and get healthy as she aims to have an impact this year. Freshmen Kelsi O'Neil, and Katie Boyle both arrive in Durham this season looking to help the club. The 5-9 O'Neil, from just down the road in Hampton, N.H., was a four-year letterwinner at Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (Dover, N.H.), where she captained the squad her senior year. O'Neil helped lead STA to its first two Class I state titles her freshman and senior seasons, as well as a Final Four appearance her sophomore campaign. The 5-7 Boyle, from Cupertino, Calif., was a four-year letterwinner and a two-year captain at Cupertino High School.
After graduating Ally Yost, who owns the fourth best goals against average in program history, the
Wildcats are left with three young goalkeepers in net for the upcoming season. Sophomore Sarah Dobush, who saw just over 55 minutes of action in two matches last season, returns with the most collegiate experience of any of the Wildcat goalkeepers. Classmate Erin Jackson is also back after not appearing in a game last season. Pushing those two for the starting job will be freshman Erica Correa. The 5-8 Correa is a Cheshire, Conn., native, who was a four-year letterwinner at Cheshire High School where she went 60-13-5, including 39 shutouts. Correa helped guide her squad to the state finals her junior year, as well as SCC conference crowns in her sophomore and senior seasons.
With a solid core of older leaders and a tremendous amount of young talent that has gained another year of experience, the Wildcats are well positioned to extend their already-record America East tournament appearance streak to 10 games, and make a deep run into that tournament, with their sights set on an America East title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.