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Muhlenberg College

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

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Season Preview

When it came time to take their preseason photo together, the Muhlenberg women’s soccer seniors pleaded for a joke shot to be taken.

But after nearly five minutes of failing to come up with anything, the 10 seniors simply gave up – they just weren’t funny enough, they said.

With 18 letterwinners from a year ago returning and the entire starting lineup
Jennifer Lynch
Lynch was voted “Player’s Player” by her teammates as a junior.
intact, the 2009 season should be no laughing matter, either.

“We basically have the same team as last year but with more experience,” said senior back Samantha Hoffman. “That experience helps a lot. The girls know what to expect, how to make plays and how to make it the full 90 minutes.”

The Mules were 11-5-4 a year ago and finished fourth in the Centennial Conference with a 5-2-3 CC record. The squad started the season 5-0 and achieved its highest regional ranking in four years. But a 6-5-4 end to the season that included three games in which Muhlenberg held the lead before allowing its opponent to come back either to tie or win the game left a bitter taste in many players’ mouths.

The players expect their tremendous experience and impressive depth to lead to an improvement this season. If they are to be more successful in 2009 and achieve their goal of winning the Centennial Conference championship, Hoffman believes they will need to start by scoring early and not being afraid to apply the pressure on teams as the game moves on.

“We need to finish games strong,” she said. “Once we’re up, we can’t just play back and try to hold the lead.”

Expected to give the Mules the lead early and often is a trio of forwards with excellent
Kate Morrissey
Morrissey has 10 career shutouts in 35 starts.
credentials. Sophomores Nicolette Miller (10 goals, 6 assists, All-CC first team) and Renee Dessimone (9 goals, 1 assist) finished 1-2 on the team in scoring a year ago, with Miller’s 26 points good enough for second in the CC. Junior Valerie Patriarca returns to Muhlenberg after spending her sophomore season at New York University. As a Mule freshman, Patriarca led the team with 10 goals.

In the midfield the Mules have an enormous amount of depth, with 11 letterwinners returning. Five seniors are likely to start at the five midfield positions; Kasey Hacker (6 goals, 5 assists, All-CC first team), Jayne Condon (2 goals, 4 assists) and Jennifer Lynch (3 goals) will patrol the center midfield, while Kimberly Hacker (4 goals, 2 assists) and Christina O’Grady (4 goals, 3 assists, All-CC second team) will play on the outside flanks.

Ashley O’Grady
Ashley O’Grady is one of seven returning Mules to have started all 20 games last season.
Christine Schaefer (1 assist), junior Lauren Petri (1 goal), and sophomores Jamie Weiss (3 goals) and Meghan O’Grady (4 goals, 3 assists, All-CC honorable mention) will all play key roles in the middle as reserves.

All three starters in the back have started their entire Muhlenberg careers. Seniors Samantha Hoffman (All-CC honorable mention) and Ashley O’Grady will play center back and right back respectively, while junior Emily Olson will start at left back.

The Mules have two strong keepers that will both see significant playing time in net. Senior Kate Morrissey started 16 games last season, posting a 1.66 goals-against average and a .520 save percentage with four shutouts. Sophomore Michelle Toher returned from a mid-season injury and started the final four games of the season. In ten games played total, she put up a 0.40 goals-against average and .880 save percentage with two shutouts.

Muhlenberg opens the season with the Cougar Classic at Kean University on Saturday and Sunday. They then return home for four straight games at Varsity Field, including a matchup with defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Messiah College on September 16.

The Mules will hope to start as strong as they did last year and finish even stronger.

Said Hoffman, “We have 10 seniors and we’ve all said, ‘This is our year.’”

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