Finishing last season with a disappointing 5-14 record, the GW women’s soccer team knows what it will take to make it a distant memory:enthusiasm. Head coach Tanya Vogel said her team has returned with more spirit than last year’s team.
“Over the last two and a half years, the girls on the team have decided that they want to take charge of this team,” Vogel said. “There have been a couple of coaching changes in the last five years and that has been a bit disruptive, but I think these girls, especially the seniors, have decided that this is their program and they are taking charge of it.”
The Colonials have turned in losing records for the past two seasons. Under head coach Michele Rodriguez-Smith two years ago, the Colonials finished at 3-15-1. Last year, in Vogel’s first season, the team made little improvement (5-14).
The Colonials have said they want more than just a winning season. They want to qualify for the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Last season GW finished sixth in the A-10 Conference.
The seniors return with a new commitment to the team and necessary leadership.
“They have just been awesome. I can’t say enough about these five seniors,” said a proud Vogel, referring to Kesha Christoph, Tiffany Williams, Angelica Caramanica, Jessica Sultzer and Erin Coppedge.
“They could have very easily written soccer off,” Vogel said. “They have had a tough road, both on and off the field, and they have just shown up here in August ready to go.”
Vogel sees September as a time to gain experience and confidence.
So far, the team is off to a good start, beating Marymount University 8-0 in the team’s first preseason scrimmage at Mount Vernon Campus last week, and defeating Howard at home 4-3 Tuesday. Georgetown defeated GW at Mount Vernon 2-1 Friday, but the Colonials won their match at Wagner College Sunday.
Three recruits from Connecticut who played for the same club team throughout high school have joined GW: Lindsay Bruno, Kelly Lawten and Amanda Bednarz were all members of the World Class club program from Windsor, Conn. The team won the 1999 U-16 Girls Snickers/USYSA National Championship.
The recruits are all very different players, but they have a consistency that comes with years of playing together. Vogel said this will help the team because they know each other’s moves.
Defense needs to step up to have a successful season. Starting goalkeeper sophomore Christine O’Malley, who started all of the Colonials 19 games after walking on last fall, was 29th in the nation with about seven saves per game. Vogel said she hopes freshman Julie Guthrie, an athletic goalkeeper from Durham, N.C., will challenge O’Malley and backup goalkeeper Jamie Olson for the starting position.
On the defensive end, senior Jessica Sultzer and sophomore Caite Terranova need to take charge and control the backfield. Vogel expects Colleen Ragan and Meggan Eckert to run the midfield, contributing a great deal to both the offensive and defensive aspects of the game.
Vogel said she is also excited about Megan Cracker, a freshman from Lake Oswego, Ore. whose attitude and stamina will create a number of scoring opportunities for GW.
Freshman Sydney McCall is a technically proficient player. Vogel said her knowledge of the game will help her standout up front or as center midfielder.
Transfer Sarah Minnich adds depth and experience.
The Colonials now play at a new field at Mt. Vernon campus.instead of South Riding Field in Virginia. While it was a natural grass field, ideal for soccer, it was too far for daily practices.
The team has their sights set high for this season. They want to qualify for the A-10 Tournament and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“This is one of the best GW soccer teams we’ve had in years here as far as what’s on paper” Vogel said. “It’s my job to organize them and teach them how to play together.”