posted on August 24, 2011 17:55
The University of Mobile women’s soccer team will enter the 2011 season fresh off a trip to the Round of 16 at the NAIA Women’s Soccer National Championship and a SSAC West Division Championship.
If the team is to build off of last season’s success, the team will have to gel to make up for the loss of some talented players.
“You lose players every year, but losing Louise Arseneault, Anna Maddox and Madison Rumore in the back and Missy Stovall up top will be tough,” Head Coach Brian Person said. “It will take a team effort and some young players rising to the occasion to make up for those losses.”
Leading the way at the striker spot will be 3rd-Team NAIA All-American Christy Lachappelle, who tallied 11 goals and 8 assists last season, and SSAC all-conference tournament team senior Kassie Ruff, who returns after netting 8 goals.
“We are going to need Christy and Kassie to lead our attack and score a lot of goals for us,” Person said. “We feel they are both capable of doing that, and are looking forward to seeing them continue to work.”
Joining the returning players up to will be Daphne HS starter Emilly Baggett, Gautier HS product Alyssa Fuller, North Richland Hills, TX native Bailey Huett, Amanda Shontz form Clarksville, TN, JUCO All-American Jesslyn Fagundes and Lucedale, Miss. Native Hillary O’Donegan.
“We are excited that Jesslyn chose us and expect her to impact our team right away,” Person said. “Bailey, Alyssa and Hillary should improve rapidly and contribute minutes as the season progresses.”
Igniting the attack will be a solid core group of midfielders and some talented newcomers.
Elisabeth Davis, Brianna Simmons, Melissa Maddox and Olivia Maddox all return after seeing action for the Lady Rams last year. Simmons scored 6 goals, while Olivia Maddox was named to the SSAC West All-Division Team.
“We have some good returning players in the midfield,” Person said. “Bri has worked to improve her scorer’s mentality, while Ebiz, Melissa and Olivia are relentless on the field and just get after it.”
Incoming players expected to impact the midfield spot for Mobile are Daphne product Brianna Heiss, Houston, Texas native Bethan Morgans and JUCO transfer Molley Ward.
“Bethan and Molley will bring valuable experience to the position and be able to compete for time right away, while Brianna is a strong, athletic freshman who should see significant minutes as the season progresses.”
Mobile also has Kelsie Ruff returning after playing in all 21 games last year. “Kelsie is very versatile and we expect her to continue to be a valuable player.”
Some of the midfielders will be able to drop back and log minutes in the defensive backfield, where they will join only one returning defender.
Bekah Counce is the lone returning defender for the Lady Rams after starting in every game as a freshman last season and being named to the SSAC West All-Freshman team.
“Bekah was tremendous for us last year, and we are really looking for her to take the lead role in replacing Anna, Louise and Madison” Person said.
With the lack of returning players, the newcomers will be expected to compete early and often. Kelsey Pope comes to Mobile via The Woodlands, Texas, JUCO transfer Moriah Beeler hails from Nine Mile Falls, Washington and Rebekah Spalding is a native of Bastrop, Texas.
“Kelsey is coming off a knee injury, but gradually gaining confidence, while Rebekah played for one of the top five club teams in the country in the Lonestar Soccer Club, and should bring experience and energy right away. Moriah will be ready to impact our team immediately coming off a season where she was voted to the NWAACC all-star team.”
Waiting as the last line of defense will be Lorna Brownlie, who returns after going 12-6-1 in goal last season with 7 shutouts and 56 saves.
“We are looking for Lorna to be one of our leaders this year and be a rock in goal for us,” Person said. “She was very good this summer in the WPSL and should bring that confidence into the season.”
Providing depth behind Brownlie will be JUCO transfer Gill McMahon and Upson-Lee product Alexandra Watson.
“Gill brings size and experience to the GK position and should push Lorna for the number 1 spot. Alexandra suffered an injury late last year, but we expect to see rapid improvement, and are excited to have her,” Person said.
Awaiting the Lady Rams will be 18 regular season games, beginning Aug. 25 against UT-Brownsville in Hattiesburg, Miss., and ending with a home date versus Spring Hill Oct. 29. Half of the contests are home dates, not including a tournament in Orange Beach Sept. 9-10, where Mobile will face Carroll and Westminster.
SSAC play will begin on Sept. 23 against Shorter. This year all teams in the league will play each other, unlike last year when only division games counted in the conference standings.
“The conference will be tougher with having to play everyone, as teams will have a lot of games to make up ground in the standings,” Person said. “On the other hand, we will be familiar with everyone when postseason play begins.”