New faces brought the Muhlenberg women’s soccer team to some old places in 2008.
Hoffman earned All-CC recognition for the second straight year.
An outstanding group of freshmen combined with a strong
junior class to lead the Mules to an 11-5-4 record, with three of the five losses coming to teams ranked in the top 10 in Division III. Muhlenberg returned to the Centennial Conference playoffs after missing out in 2007 and also achieved its highest regional ranking in four years.
Of the top five scorers for the Mules, three were freshmen, and by the end of the year the starting goalie was a rookie as well. Two Muhlenberg freshmen earned All-CC honors.
The freshmen didn’t waste any time making their presence felt: In the opening game, a 4-0 shutout of St. Joseph’s (N.Y.), the newcomers accounted for three goals and two assists, with Renee Dessimone becoming the first player in team history to notch a hat trick in her first game.
The next day, three more goals were registered by freshmen as the Mules scored three times in the last 7:22 to stun Kean, 4-2.
Those two wins were part of the first 5-0 start in program history. Also included in that run was Muhlenberg’s first victory in 13 tries
against Scranton, a 3-1 triumph. The Mules outscored those first five opponents by a 22-3 margin to climb to fifth in the regional rankings.
Hacker leads all active Muhlenberg players in goals (16), assists (12) and points (44), ranking 10th in program history in points.
Although eventual national champion Messiah snapped the winning streak, Muhlenberg rebounded to win its first two CC games and remained near the top of the standings all season. The Mules all but clinched a playoff berth when they pulled off a stunning 5-0 win at 2007 CC finalist Ursinus in the last week of the regular season.
With a final CC mark of 5-2-3, Muhlenberg earned the fourth seed for the CC playoffs and a first-round home game against Haverford. Two goals by freshmen enabled the Mules to erase an early 1-0 deficit and advance to the semifinals with a 2-1 victory.
In the semis,
Muhlenberg gave undefeated, seventh-ranked Johns Hopkins all it could handle before falling 1-0 in the second overtime.
O’Grady will enter her senior year with 39 career points.
Freshman Nicolette Miller led the Mules – and the CC – in scoring with 26 points on 10 goals and six assists. Dessimone finished with nine goals, and fellow newcomers Meghan O’Grady (All-CC honorable mention) and Jamie Weiss contributed a total of seven goals.
But the freshmen were far from the whole story – there were a lot of juniors too. Junior Kasey Hacker scored a career-high 17 points to join Miller on the All-CC first team. Junior Christina O’Grady (11 points) earned second-team honors for the third year in a row. Junior Kimberly Hacker netted eight points, as did classmate Jayne Condon, who scored the first two goals of her career. Another junior, Jennifer Lynch, had her best offensive season, with three goals.
The starting back three of juniors Samantha Hoffman (All-CC honorable mention) and Ashley O’Grady and sophomore Emily Olson led a defense that allowed only 21 goals in 20 games.
Junior Kate Morrissey (1.34 goals-against average in 15 starts) and freshman Michele Toher (0.40 in four starts) shared time in goal.