Women’s soccer looks toward another strong season in 2008

| Managing Editor

The biggest change for Washington University’s ninth-ranked women’s soccer team this year will not be on the field, but on the sidelines. First year Head Coach Jim Conlon takes over the reins this season following former Head Coach Wendy Dillinger’s resignation in January. The former Wartburg College men’s and women’s head coach will have big shoes to fill, as Dillinger was the winningest women’s soccer coach in school history.

“He wants to take care of his players,” senior Shirey Lane said. “He knows soccer and is a good guy. He wants to know us and is big on communication. He wants to make sure everyone understands things from all angles.”

Conlon’s coaching strategy should work well at his new job as he tries to create families out of all of his teams. This spirit is unifying the team after it faced cuts for the first time in several years. The 28-player roster is still considered to be large at any level, but will, according to Conlon, allow for much more effective practices than would have been possible on the original team of 37 players.

The team returns much of its strength from last year. Led by tri-captains Lane, Becca Heymann and Caitlin Malone, the team is poised to defend its UAA title. Junior Caryn Rosoff, an All-American last season, will again lead the offense. After notching 10 goals and 28 points last season, she now sits in eighth place on the all-time leaders lists for both goals scored and total points after just two seasons played at the Danforth Campus. Malone, a senior, and Heymann, a junior, finished second and third in last year’s points standings with 22 and 20 points, respectively. Malone also notched five game-winning goals last season, bringing her career total to nine, which ties her for fourth in the all-time standings and second in the single season standings. Freshman Lee Ann Felder has also come on strong during preseason and is a strong candidate to make an impact upfront.

The core defensive line-up, composed of Lane and juniors Libby Held and Cassie Scaman, also looks to make an impact as they play together for the third straight season. Three freshmen also look to add depth to the defensive rotation. Senior Amanda Boe will anchor the team in goal, after serving as Carrie Sear’s back-up for two seasons.

Sear proves to be the biggest loss from last season’s roster, after posting a 0.55 goals against average over the course of her career. The graduation of Kim O’Keefe also left big shoes to fill leadership-wise, though the team was forced to replace her on the field a year early when she missed her entire senior season with a torn ACL. Both of last year’s starting outside midfielders Abbey Hartmann and Marin McCarthy also graduated, as did key defensive sub Jessica Deneweth. Therese Fox, a starting forward last season, has also opted not to play this fall.

“We have a really deep team and a lot of girls are fighting for those positions,” Heymann said.

Overall, the freshman class looks very strong this fall, as do several of the returning players. Three other players who saw starting time last year also return, highlighted by all-UAA selection and senior Carly Anderson.

“I have to give a lot of credit to our seniors and captain,” Conlon said. “They have been great leaders. The freshmen are also showing good ability, though they have not handled the pressure of being student athletes.”

“We have several freshmen that play more than one position. Their versatility helps us in the long run,” Malone added.

For the first time in several years, the team will have the opportunity to start the season at home. The Washington University Classic is scheduled for this weekend at Francis Field, with the Red and Green facing Calvin College at 8 p.m. on Friday and Hope College at the same time Saturday.

As always, the team has lofty goals for the season. “We want to win a national championship,” Malone said. “We really want to establish Wash. U. as a power in soccer.”

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