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UMBC WOMEN'S SOCCER 2006 SEASON PREVIEW
Andi Perkinson has impressed her coaches during the preseason and makes the move to the back line for the Retrievers.
A year after finishing ninth in the America East Conference standings, the UMBC women’s soccer team achieved a turnaround in 2005, earning a berth in the league tournament as the No. 6 seed with a 9-9-1 overall record and 3-4-1 league mark. But without a win over the last three weeks of the regular season, the Retrievers lacked momentum and fell in overtime of their quarterfinal match against third-seeded
With new coaches, a new style of play and nine newcomers, 2006 represents a new beginning.
Tara Koleski takes over at the helm after two outstanding seasons at
“Coming in so close to the season, it has been challenging for sure because we didn’t have time to come in and plan things and prepare for a season the way we would really like to,” Koleski said. “Overall, I think we’ve gotten organized quickly, and as a team we’ve come together and the players understand clearly what we’re trying to do. But it’s going to take a little bit of time for them to adjust.”
Koleski and Barroqueiro are teaching the Retrievers a new style of play that focuses more on attacking and possession, rather than defense. In doing so, many players have had to learn new positions, a change that could be difficult for the team’s 10 seniors.
“We’re changing our style, moving players around to different positions where we feel they will be more successful,” Koleski explained. “Some of the seniors have had three years of training that is completely opposite of the way we’re asking them to play. We’re asking players to stretch themselves and play outside of their comfort zone, and we’ll be patient this year. Already we’ve seen progress.”
The starting goalkeeper role is again a question mark. In 2005, team co-captain and three-year starter Robin Babaris was forced to sit out the season with a knee injury, leaving three inexperienced newcomers to battle for the job. Freshman Christine Bacinski started the first six games until classmate Catie Bukowski recovered from an illness and took over in the net, eventually earning America East all-conference second team and all-rookie team honors.
Babaris re-injured her knee this spring but is healthy enough to play and is fighting to regain her starting job. All three have played well during preseason.
“Robin’s tough and she’s smart,” Barroqueiro said. “She leads out on the field. She commands her defense and she commands the players in front of her. Catie Bukowski is a physical presence [at 5-foot-9]. She has great size for a keeper, and she’s a great vocal leader. She’s got the intangibles that you can’t teach a kid. She got a lot of good experience last year coming in for Robin and playing a lot. Christine is very quiet in the back, but her technical skills as a keeper are good.”
“It’s up for grabs,” Koleski added. “There are three keepers that are battling it out for a starting spot.”
A fourth goalie, senior Carly Agro, is the quickest of the group but saw no game action last season after transferring to UMBC from Florida International and is inexperienced. She will look to benefit from the addition of a goalkeeping coach, Katy Owings, in addition to Barroqueiro, who has worked closely with the goalies.
Koleski said it is also hard to predict who will start where on the field as the players move around to find where they fit best into the new style of play, but with 28 players on the roster, she has a lot of options.
“I think that’s the exciting thing for the girls, is that it is a battle every week and it could possibly change based on performance,” the coach said.
The Retriever defense will have a new look this year as fifth-year senior and team co-captain Mary Hearin, a longtime mainstay on the back line, will slide to a primarily midfield position in 2006, though she will see time both in the back and up front as well. Hearin shared team Unsung Hero honors last season with Jessica Golibart, now an assistant coach.
“Mary definitely brings to us a great deal of leadership and experience,” Koleski said. “She’s a tough player, and she’s going to be versatile for us this year, not necessarily just as a back. I think she can help us out at a number of different positions. Also I think she’s important to have on the roster because she makes players around her better.”
Sophomore Kali Schwartz, who played mainly in the midfield last year, will likely anchor the Retrievers’ defense in 2006.
“Kali has all the intangibles to play center back,” Koleski said.
Joining Schwartz in the back will be seniors Betsy Day and Andrea Perkinson. A fifth-year senior and team co-captain, Day brings experience, leadership and toughness to the Retrievers, as she has continued to play through injuries. Perkinson, mainly a midfielder last season, has impressed her new coaches with a strong preseason. She will see time all over the field but will primarily serve as an outside back.
“Andi has set a standard that I want the other girls to get to when it comes to mentality,” Koleski said. “She has definitely earned herself a starting position based on that. She might see herself in a number of different positions this year, but only because she will work for us wherever she’s playing.”
Sophomore Casey Smith and local freshman LaShawna Epps will also see a great deal of playing time on defense this season. A hard worker, Smith likely will play defensive center midfielder in addition to outside back, while Koleski believes the speedy and versatile Epps has the tools necessary to make a splash in her first collegiate season.
Senior Nicole Krause, who saw limited playing time last year in her first season at UMBC after transferring from
Senior Christie Sikorski has missed most of the last two seasons due to an injury but has been cleared to play and will see time in the back and midfield. Her role has changed from primarily a center midfielder to an outside mid.
Hearin, senior Megan Mullins and junior Amy Morrison will head up the midfield, which could also at times include Perkinson, Schwartz and Day. Mullins started all 19 games on the back line last season but will make the switch to outside midfielder.
“Megan Mullins is exceptional,” Koleski said. “She has qualities that we can’t teach. She’s very aggressive, she has a tough mentality and she’s a physical player. She’s the kind of player that definitely makes a difference in a game.”
Morrison led the Retrievers with five assists in 2005 and finished third on the team with nine points. She currently ranks ninth all-time in UMBC history with eight career assists.
“Amy is exceptional at getting forward,” Koleski said. “She doesn’t ever quit. With her experience I think she’ll be very helpful as a central midfielder.”
Junior Alexis Rogowsky and freshmen Arielle Tagger and Katie McKay will likely see time both in the midfield and on defense. Rogowsky is a tough player who started all 19 games last season in a similar role. The speedy Tagger, who will play back or outside midfielder, is one of the top players to come out of
“Arielle is an exceptional player,” Koleski said. “She takes care of the ball. She’s not only an athlete but she is a soccer player. She has good soccer sense and she’s very savvy on the ball.”
McKay, a local product, could also play anywhere on the field but will primarily serve as a defensive midfielder. At 5-foot-11, McKay is a huge presence on the field with good vision.
Sophomores Cara Palmer and Marla Muha and freshman Ashley Woodrow will also see a great deal of time in the midfield. Palmer started 18 games last season and registered three assists. She has been playing an outside midfielder position, but Koleski believes she could also be versatile because of her ability to take care of the ball. Muha is a transfer from
“Ashley is a central midfielder that can pick out people and distribute and she’ll keep possession for us and she’ll just dominate in the midfield,” Koleski said of the newcomer, who is coming off knee surgery. “She will be a playmaker for us.”
Koleski believes 2006 could be a breakout year for junior Morgan Sacchetti, who has played in only eight games in her first two seasons at UMBC. In addition, senior Megan Jupiter and freshmen JoAnne Jackson and Michelle Worrest will add depth in the midfield and up front.
UMBC’s offense will again be led by junior Jessica Young, a 2005 America East first team all-conference honoree and team most valuable athlete. The speedy Young led the Retrievers and ranked in the top three in the league with 12 goals and 25 points last season, and she is tied for eighth all-time at UMBC with 18 career goals in just two seasons.
“Our expectations for Jessica this year are high because she’s had success in the past,” Koleski said. “Her speed is very dangerous.”
Senior Amanda DiCarlo scored 10 goals last season and earned America East all-conference honorable mention accolades as one of the league’s top scorers, but she suffered a knee injury during preseason and will miss the entire 2006 campaign.
Koleski believes sophomore newcomer Amanda Benedict can help fill the void. “We have high expectations for Amanda this year,” the coach said. “She is tough as they get and will be a presence in the midfield or up top. She can take care of the ball; she’s a playmaker.”
In addition, freshmen Naomi Opaleye and Kristine Lyons will compete for playing time this season. A native of Dallas, the technical Opaleye has experience as both a defender and a forward, but will see more time up front this season, while Lyons has an extremely dangerous shot.
Hearin, Perkinson, McKay and Sacchetti could also see time on the front line for the Retrievers.
With the new style of play implemented by the new coaches, 2006 could be a learning and rebuilding season for the Retrievers. But Koleski still believes her team can win.
“Our expectations are to do better than what we’ve done in the past, even on a daily basis in practice,” Koleski said. “Coming into a new program with new players, we just want to see progress. There’s going to be a lot of growing pains, but we want to see more of a winning record and we want to score more goals than we did last year. Those are two team goals we set. Our expectations are a lot higher than I think they’ve ever been.”
The Retrievers open the season at home against George Washington on Aug. 25. They christen the new Bermuda grass field at UMBC Soccer Stadium against