Women’s soccer looks to maintain top-10 status in 2012
Eight starters and three all-region players return from a record-setting 2011 women’s soccer team, which kicks off its 2012 season Friday at home against Alma College.
Senior goalie Clara Jaques, junior back Kate Doyle and sophomore forward Lillie Toaspern earned All-Central Region second-team honors after helping the Bears advance to the NCAA quarterfinals and post a program-best 18-5 record. Doyle and Jaques will lead a defense that limited University Athletic Association opponents to only three goals in seven games last year. Toaspern contributed conference highs in goals (12) and points (29) en route to winning UAA Rookie of the Year.
“Those three players have done a nice job for us during preseason, and I think they’re starting to settle into their roles along with their teammates nicely,” head coach Jim Conlon said.
After last year’s quarterfinal loss to Wheaton College, the Bears head into the 2012 campaign ranked No. 9 in Division III.
Another key returning player for the Red and Green is junior forward Lauren Steimle, who scored 11 goals as a sophomore. Steimle said the team is trying to adjust for the loss of third-team All-American midfielder Lee Ann Felder, among other 2011 seniors.
“We’re just trying to work on the chemistry right now—kind of get things clicking because we’ve got some people playing different positions than they did last year,” Steimle said.
“We’re not going to look to play the exact same way because we don’t have the same players in 2012 as we had in 2011,” Conlon added. “And so we don’t necessarily have to have new players try and fill shoes—we just have to find the right chemistry for this year’s team.”
Senior midfielder Emily Gosché started 16 of 23 games last year but figures this year to have an increased role due to the departure of Felder. Sophomore forward Anna Zambricki (10 goals, four assists in 2011) is an important offensive weapon for the Bears.
Steimle said that the return of senior back Nicole Martin from an ACL injury should give the team a boost. The junior forward also noted that sophomore midfielder Tessa Klumpp, who played in only four games as a freshman, has made significant strides in the preseason.
“Both of them worked really hard in the offseason to get where they needed to be,” Steimle said.
The Bears’ schedule contains four games against teams ranked in the top 17 of Division III—the first of those games being against No. 4 Wheaton on Sept. 15. Prior to the much-anticipated playoff rematch, Wash. U. has four games in St. Louis, including Friday’s season opener against Alma at 5 p.m.
“We’re just trying to get out there against a live opponent for the first time in two weeks and really see what we can do,” Conlon said. “We don’t know much about Alma, so we’re going to focus in on our development and our growth, and hopefully that will get us a win.”