Attitude and athleticism make a winning combination — one the women’s soccer team will bring to the field this weekend as it opens its season with home games against Stony Brook this afternoon and Syracuse on Sunday.
“We expect both teams to be tough challenges,” said head coach Berhane Andeberhan, “but, I’m pleased with the team’s work and cohesion. We are very optimistic right now and excited to get started.”
The team finished last season with a 9-6-2 record (2-5 Ivy) but did earn a birth to the ECAC tournament, losing in its second game against St. John’s on penalty kicks by a final score of 2-1.
However, only four seniors graduated, leaving 13 experienced underclassmen and a host of talented freshmen to improve on the finish this year.
“The team looks really good so far,” said Phela Townsend, a sophomore back. “Our freshmen class is pretty strong and the returning players came back fit and technically sound. Overall, we’re at a higher level than we were at this time last year.”
With sights set on the net, seniors Emily Knight and Leigh Ann Schwartz, junior Emily Wyffels, and sophomore Shannon Fraser will fill in the forward positions. And, backing them up at midfield, are Townsend, classmates Ali Gombar and Kara Ishikawa, juniors Jo Galardy, Megan Healy and Sarah Greenberg, and seniors Whitney Cale and Jocelyn Cottrell — all of whom will share playing time.
The team’s defensive unit, however, is arguably its biggest asset. In the field, Three of last year’s starters return: senior co-captain Lindsay Rovegno, senior Karne Hukee, and junior Natalie Dew.
Rovegno has started 43 games for the Red during her four years on the Hill and brings her skills to the backline. Hukee, a sweeper, helped anchor the defense last fall as a full-time starter, and Dew — known for her tackling ability and tactical instincts — will resume her role at stopper.
Finally, with junior Katie Thomas in goal, the Red have one of the most talented and reliable keepers in the league. After a freshmen year in which she averaged 1.25 goals against and earned All-Ivy honorable mention, the Californian started 14 games her sophomore year, making 68 saves.
Though anxious to get the games under its belt, the team knows that winning won’t come easily. “Right now, we’re ready to finally play,” said Townsend.
“But we know it’ll be tough. We went into double overtime with Syracuse last year, and I’m sure they’ve improved. But so have we.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson