Fall Sports Preview: GW striking while the iron is hot

The beginning of the Atlantic 10 season for the 1999 GW women’s soccer team can be looked upon as the silver lining behind the gray cloud of what has happened already this season.

After an 0-8 record outside of the conference to begin the year, GW hopes it can repeat last year’s strong A-10 finish, when it went 9-2 within the conference after completing the season 2-8 outside of it.

“I have no doubt that we can win the A-10 this year,” said GW women’s head soccer coach Michele Rodriguez-Smith. “It’s our goal every year, and we definitely plan to meet it this year.”

The team started off in the right direction yesterday, polishing off Virginia Tech 1-0 for its first win of the year and more importantly a 1-0 record within the conference.

If anything, the Colonial women looked at their troubles this season as a positive that can only help them in their pursuit of a conference championship.

“I think the tough schedule prepared us for the challenges ahead,” said Kim Sanders, a freshman midfielder. “We were playing nationally ranked teams and not getting slaughtered by them. We’ve definitely been helped by the experience.”

According to Rodriguez-Smith, the balance of experience that the returning players have and the talent the new freshmen bring to the table should prove an exciting and winning combination.

“Our freshmen are definitely stepping up,” Rodriguez-Smith said. “They’ve been the impact players we hoped they would be when we recruited them.”

The Colonial women are loaded at the forward position with talented freshmen. They are led by Kim Warner, a two-year member of the Under-20 Canadian National Team. Joining Warner are freshman forwards Pirapar Patamasucon, a four-year Tennessee All-State Team member, and Caroline Donaghue, a member of the Ontario Provincial Team.

As far as the seniors are concerned, Rodriguez-Smith cites their importance this year in keeping the team motivated despite the early losing streak. Senior midfielders Katy McQuillin and Kristin Robertson (who had spent the last two years injured) look to provide leadership on and off the field for GW.

Shannon Ashfield, who has moved into the starting goalkeeper position after splitting time last year with senior goalkeeper Rima Sidhu, showed just what she could do in the spotlight yesterday, protecting GW’s 1-0 lead against many of the Hokies’ offensive charges.

The Colonial women also have tremendous depth in the midfield position. Senior Carina Sonberg, who saw action in 15 matches last year, will be joined by sophomores Erin Coppedge and Angelica Caramanica, both of whom had impressive rookie seasons.

Rodriguez-Smith’s team survived its early season troubles outside of the A-10 and have prepared themselves properly for the more important upcoming conference season. The pursuit of a conference title is underway for GW.

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