Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2004
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SOCCER PREVIEWS
Both Mule Teams Are Defending CC Champs
Grueling Schedule Faces Men’s Team

The Muhlenberg men’s soccer team can take to heart the oft-repeated cliché “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best” for the 2004 season.

The Mules will get several shots at the best this fall. Their first game, scheduled for Saturday in Clarkson’s Doug May LOTTO Tournament, is against ninth-ranked St. Lawrence, the 1999 NCAA Division III champion. Their seventh is at No. 13 Messiah, the 2000 and 2002 national champion. And later in the year, Muhlenberg welcomes Drew, the 2003 NCAA runner-up.

And then there’s the Centennial Conference opener, scheduled for Sept. 18 on the turf at Johns Hopkins, where the Mules have never won.

“That will definitely be an experience,” noted junior central midfielder Jose Ramirez, speaking of the St. Lawrence opener and the other games against highly ranked teams. “Those games
Ryan Smallwood
Smallwood has started all 44 games the last two years, including 25 which ended as Muhlenberg shutouts.
show you how good you are. But we’re returning a lot of starters, so we’ll be up for the challenge.”

Despite returning eight starters from a team that went 17-5-1 and captured the CC championship, Muhlenberg is still young, with only two seniors. Both of them – goalie Chris Davis and center back Ryan Melchior – play on a defense that allowed just 16 goals in 23 matches last year. Davis had six shutouts and led the CC with a 0.26 goals-against average in league games. The starter since late in his freshman season, Davis has a sparkling career GAA of 0.79.

Melchior is joined in the back four by juniors Adam Milberg, who like Davis earned All-CC honorable mention last year, and Ryan Smallwood.

Ramirez is the top returner in the midfield. He received All-CC and All-Mid-Atlantic first-team honors after scoring eight goals in 2003. Juniors Joseph Benner and Christopher King each started more than half of Muhlenberg’s games last year and tallied eight points. Sophomores Blake Grannell and Alex Hamill figure to see increased playing time this year.

Up front, ’Berg returns another all-region first-teamer in James Henshaw. The junior tied for the team lead in goals with 11, five of which were game-winners, and added five assists.

Although the Mules swept through the 2003 CC season undefeated, outscoring their opponents 27-3, then won two more games in the league tournament, they were picked to finish second – by one point to Johns Hopkins – in the preseason poll.

“Those are just numbers and they don’t really mean much,” commented Ramirez. “You have to prove yourself on the field.”

Muhlenberg will get its first chance to prove itself on Saturday.

Women Picked to Repeat Despite Heavy Losses

The Muhlenberg women’s soccer team has two titles to defend in 2004.

The first is for the Kean Invitational. The Mules won the championship last year and will try again this weekend when they open their season with games against William Paterson (Saturday at 1:00) and Kean (Sunday at 11:00).

The second – and more important – is the Centennial Conference title. Muhlenberg rebounded from a loss in its 2003 league opener to capture its third crown in four years. The Mules advanced to the
Katie Amari
Amari is one of only three returning players who scored more than one goal last season. She had two.
third round of the NCAA Tournament before suffering a 1-0 loss to second-ranked Scranton, ending their season with a record of 16-4-2.

“Everybody is pumped up about defending our [Centennial Conference] championship,” said senior co-captain Maureen McLaughlin. “We were telling the freshmen about playing in the NCAAs the other day and they got really excited.”

By a margin of one point over Gettysburg and two over Johns Hopkins, Muhlenberg was picked to repeat in the CC preseason poll, despite graduating three first-team all-conference players – one from the back, one from the midfield and a forward who is the program’s all-time leading scorer.

To make up for their losses, the Mules will need several players to step up into more prominent roles than they had last year. “We did lose a lot of people but everybody came back in good shape,” said McLaughlin. “We’re all working really hard and I think we’ll do well.”

McLaughlin is one of two returning starters in the back, along with junior Katie Amari, who scored the winning goal in the CC championship game. They and a new starter will play in front of sophomore Kayla Boisvert, who enjoyed an outstanding rookie season in goal, finishing second in the CC with a 0.79 goals-against average and recording six shutouts.

Veteran returning starters in the midfield include senior Katie Macomber and junior Amy Schmidt. Sophomore Maria Tranguch started all but two games as a freshman, and classmate Kristen Cioeta also saw a great deal of action. Sophomore Andrea Dello Russo came on strong at the end of last year and has been impressive in the preseason.

The Mules’ lone returning all-conference player is co-captain Rebecca Armstrong, who enters her senior season fourth on the all-time scoring list with 83 career points. She earned all-region honors for the third time in 2003, leading the team with 30 points on 12 goals and six assists. Senior Kimberly Klicka and sophomore Elana Rabinowitz are vying for starting spots up front, and sophomore Alicia Kutner also could be a factor.

“People have been stepping up and playing with a lot of confidence,” added McLaughlin. “And we’re a really close team. Us being closer is going to make us better.”

A close team could have the edge in what promises to be a close race.


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated September 1, 2004