The Washington and Lee women’s soccer program has a strong history of success on the conference and national level and the Generals will look to continue that tradition as they take the field for the 2009 season.
After completing the 2008 campaign with a 13-5 overall record and a 9-2 mark in the ODAC, the Generals will once again look to climb to the top of the ODAC and claim the conference title.
“We have a great group of returning players,” stated Head Coach Neil Cunningham. “We are excited for the season.”
The Generals’ strength has long been combining a strong offensive and defensive attack. On offense, the Generals must replace the void left by the graduation of two-time All-American Anne Van Devender. However, plenty returns from a team that finished second in the ODAC in goals per game (5.27 gpg) last season.
“We would like to regain the ODAC title this season from Lynchburg, who has had a stronghold on the conference the past couple years,” remarked Cunningham.
Among those returning up front to provide scoring punch are sophomores Kat Barnes (Charlotte, N.C./Myers Park) and Allie Espina (Gaithersburg, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel). An Honorable Mention All-ODAC selection, Barnes totaled 38 points on 16 goals and six assists, while Espina tallied 23 points on 10 goals and three helpers. Both finished among the Top 10 scorers in the conference a year ago.
“We will be looking to Barnes and Espina to lead the [front] line,” commented Cunningham. “Both were solid last season and we hope they continue that play.”
Also contributing on the offensive third of the field will be junior Laura Yungmeyer (Kingsport, Tenn./Dobyns Bennett), sophomore Anne Masich (Raleigh, N.C./Needham. B Broughton) and first-years Katie Howard (Atherton, Calif./Menlo School), Bess Ruff (Tupelo, Miss./Tupelo) and Hannah Sackfield (Louisville, Ky./DuPont Manual).
Yungmeyer played in all 18 games during the 2008 season and finished with two goals and three assists. Masich saw action in 15 contests and notched 14 points on seven goals.
The midfield unit features plenty of experience with the return of senior captains Roz Klann (Denver, Colo./George Washington) and Maggie Sutherland (Pittsburgh, Pa./Sewickley Academy), both all-conference players.
Klann started 15 games a season ago, totaling three goals and earning Second Team All-ODAC laurels. Sutherland, the former ODAC Rookie of the Year as a defender, started 15 contests in 2008 and totaled four goals and one assist en route to earning First Team All-ODAC laurels.
“They both have been strong players since the beginning,” stated Cunningham. “They bring a good work ethic and have high expectations for the team and in everything they do.”
Cunningham is also looking for strong contributions in the midfield from juniors Caroline Lamberti (Oakton, Va./Paul VI) and Taylor Garrett (Birmingham, Ala./Mountain Brook), along with sophomore Dory Blackey (Versailles, Ky./Sayre School).
Lamberti recorded time in 17 of the Generals 18 games last season, posting six points (1g, 4a). Garrett played in 15 games and notched one goal and two assists, while Blackey played in 14 games and recorded three assists.
“Lamberti has picked-up where she left-off last season,” remarked Cunningham. “She has reached a level of consistency and will be a big contributor to the team.
“Blackey has also stepped up and used her experience from last season,” he added. “She will be looking to provide some valuable playing time this season.”
First-year Ainsley Daigle (Lafayette, La./Episcopal School of Acadiana) is also among those that Cunningham believes can contribute as a rookie. According to the ninth-year head coach, Daigle and Howard have be best chance of making an immediate impact in their first seasons in Lexington.
“They both have had a strong pre-seasons,” stated Cunningham. “I am looking for them to be significant contenders as first-year players.”
The Generals defensive third claims less experience, but equal talent. Sophomores Corinne Smith (Greensboro, N.C./Grimsley) and Page Minton (Bowling Green, Ky./Bowling Green) are among the top returnees from a group that posted 10 shutouts and allowed an average of just 0.88 goals per game.
Smith received Honorable Mention All-ODAC honors a season ago after starting 17 contests and scoring a pair of tallies. Minton started played in all 18 games with 11 starts and totaled two goals and two assists.
“Both girls saw significant playing time last season as first-years and it should help them this season,” remarked Cunningham.
Joining Minton and Smith in the backfield will be fellow sophomores Kelsy McCraw (Greenville, S.C./Christ Church Episcopal), Katheryne Lawson (White Post, Va./Clarke County) and Heather Deisher (Cape Girardeau, Mo./Cape Central), and first-years Sarah Stiefvater (Pelham, N.Y./Pelham Memorial) and Alex Todd (New Orleans, La./Isidore Newman School).
Sophomore Emily Leary (Cincinnati, Ohio/Kings) will receive the nod as the starting goalkeeper for the Generals. She started six contests as a first-year and posted an .800 save percentage and 0.28 goals-against average in just over 654 minutes of action. She will be joined at the position by junior Taylor Joosten (Chicago, Ill./St. Ignatius College Prep) and first-year Allison Beeman (Summit, N.J./Kent Place School). Joosten saw action in one game last season, playing 45 minutes and facing no shots.
“We are excited to build on our experience from last season and get the new season underway,” stated Cunningham.
The Generals will start their season Saturday against Greensboro at the Methodist Soccer for a Cure Tournament in Fayetteville, N.C. They will look to get the ODAC season started September 16 at home against Sweet Briar with a 5:00 pm start time.