Women's Soccer Outlook
The 2003 UMBC women's soccer team has much to learn during the upcoming year, not just about their new home in the America East Conference, but also about each other. Coming of a highly successful 2001 season in which the Retrievers went 11-6-2 with a second place finish in the Northeast Conference, expectations for the following season were high. Unfortunately a blow of injuries greatly affected the team, who finished at 5-11-1 in 2002, good for tenth place in the NEC.
This year, head coach Michelle Salmon brings in the largest incoming class in UMBC women's soccer history. "With nine talented newcomers in addition to the returning letter-winners, we now have plenty of depth in every area," said Salmon. "The team dynamic is going to change as the rookies combine with a core of veterans who have developed a tremendous amount of leadership. Since the upperclassmen have dealt with success as well as adversity, they are refocused with a new drive and ambition to get the entire team to the next level."
With this in mind, the Retrievers are prepared to begin their first season in the America East. Last year, five of the eleven Retriever losses were decided by one goal, while three came in overtime. "We are working on getting the newcomers to understand that every single game is going to be a battle," said Salmon. "There aren't going to be any blowouts and one little mistake can either cost the game or win the game. Competition will be tight, so we are training with the mentality that there will be very close games that will be decided by moments, and we have to make sure that we win more moments than the other team."
Defensively, the Retrievers have a complete lineup, and Salmon believes that the back will be UMBC's strongest area this season. Starting on the left side will be senior Kristen English, a 2001 Second Team All-NEC Defender. The center spot will be occupied by sophomore Mary Hearin, who took a medical red-shirt last year due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament, while the right side will be covered by classmate Jessica Golibart, who saw action in 15 games in 2002. Senior tri-captain Carolyn Patton, a strong defender who has played in 48 career games as a Retriever, rounds out the back. Necomers who might vie for time in defense include junior Allison Dooley, a transfer from the University of Delaware, and freshman Christie Sikorski, a local product who has played with the successful Bethesda Sting club team.
In contrast, the Retriever midfield presents plenty of open spots as several different players possess the talent to take on a starting role. Salmon is certain, however, that senior tri-captain Jessa Karko, will be the starting defensive center midfielder. A two-time All-Northeast Conference player, Karko has started all 44 games in her three-year career, and is regarded as one of the best leaders on the UMBC team. Others fighting for time in the remaining midfield positions include junior Roula Adams, a tall, agile player who is always a scoring threat, and sophomore Betsy Day, who took a medical red-shirt last season. Newcomers who might also see time in the middle include freshman Megan Mullins, a dual-sport athlete (women's lacrosse) whose club team won the Maryland State Championships last year, and classmate Andrea Perkinson, a quick-footed player who can change the game with her speed.
Offensively, the Retrievers will be led by two-time All-Conference junior Missy Moore, who led the team in goals and points last year with 10 and 20, respectively. In 2003, she will be joined by freshman Amanda DiCarlo, a high-scoring player who was part of the Canadian National Championship team. "They are very complementary of each other," said Salmon. "I think that the combination of the two will create a tremendous impact on our program.
The remaining players who will vie for time either as a forward or in the midfield include senior tri-captain Lori Quintavalle, a fierce competitor who ranked third on the team in scoring last season. New players that add to the team's depth include sophomore Kelly Fiorani, junior Megan Oursler, and freshmen Cynthia Weinstein and Megan Jupiter. Fiorani, last year's Northeast Conference Rookie of the Year in women's lacrosse, will now bring her competitiveness and athleticism to the soccer field, while Oursler, who demonstrated excellent play at the College of Southern Maryland, will extend her talents to UMBC, while also playing softball in the spring.
In the net for the Retrievers this season will be sophomore Robin Babaris, who started every game in 2002, allowing just 31 goals, while stopping 72 shots, and posting three shutouts. Reserve keeper will be junior Kelly Lizon, a two-year letter-winner who is just coming off of an injury.
With plenty of open spots in the starting lineup, Salmon believes that the competition for positions will create an increased level of play as well. UMBC will get to evaluate the America East right away when they take on defending champion Hartford to start conference play.
"I look at the conference and think that there will be a lot of one-goal games," said Salmon. "It's going to be the little things that will matter in this program. We intend to take the season game by game instead of looking at the big picture, and we're going to simplify things as much as possible. I want to go into the America East playing for every game and fighting for every goal, and getting this program not necessarily turned around, but just back on track."