Aug. 16, 2012
WEST POINT, N.Y. -
The Army women's soccer team heads to New England with a trip to Vermont for its season opener on Friday, Aug. 17, at 4 p.m. and Providence on Sunday, Aug. 19, at 1 p.m., in kicking off its 27th season of intercollegiate competition.
Defending Patriot League Tournament champion Army was picked second in the preseason standings earlier this week. The Black Knights led with a conference-high four preseason all-league selections headed by preseason Defensive Player of the Year junior Molly McGuigan. Juniors Kim An and Joey Molacek, and sophomore Madison Oliver, joined McGuigan on the preseason all-league list.
An, a two-time first-team all-league selection, has ranked among the conference's scoring leaders her first two years. She tallied a league-high 10 goals and four game winners, and was second in scoring with 21 points last fall. Molacek, an all-league selection a year ago and the MVP of the 2011 Patriot League Tournament, finished second on the team in scoring with five goals and two assists for 12 points. Oliver, a defender, joined Molacek and McGuigan on the all-tournament team. McGuigan, two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year, has been the backbone on an Army defense that has compiled 31 shutouts the past two years.
Army returns 18 letterwinners from last year's team that compiled a 12-4-5 mark and captured the Patriot League title and automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four years. Interim head coach Fred Thompson also welcomed 10 freshmen who are expected to challenge up front, in the midfield and in goal. During the preseason, the Black Knights came from behind to tie Long Island University and Albany by identical 2-2 scores with three of Army's four goals tallied by freshmen.
"This will be an interesting weekend for us," said Thompson. "Preseason is over and it is all about learning and putting things together. Hopefully the team will come together when the season starts. We won't know until we have the first kickoff, but I feel confident. The team has done well and has been working hard to try to do the things that will help us succeed. I know it will come together, but we just have to see how early it does."
The Black Knights renew their rivalry with Vermont in Friday's season opener. Army was a 3-0 winner the last time the teams met at West Point in the opening round of the Black Knight Classic in 2010 to pull ahead 7-3-0 in the all-time series. Molacek and An each scored a goal as freshmen in that win. Army will be looking to post its first season opening win since 2008 when it defeated NJIT at home, 3-1, after facing nationally-ranked teams Maryland (2009) and Duke (2011) in three of its last four debuts.
The Catamounts, picked to finish sixth in the 2012 America East preseason coaches' poll, returned 19 letterwinners from last year's team that finished tied for fourth in the final regular season standings and returned to the America East Tournament for the first time since 2006.
Among the returners is junior all-conference selection Alexa DeMaio and sophomores Alexandra Dezenzo and Kerry Glynn who earned all-rookie honors in 2011. Vermont returns last year's scoring unit that accounted for 15 goals along with junior goalkeeper Sarah Leiby, who played all but 117 minutes in net posting a 1.70 goals-against average.
Fans can watch the game via CatamounTV at UVMathletics.com.
Army then heads to Rhode Island to take on BIG EAST member Providence to close out its opening weekend of competition. The Friars, who were picked to finish fourth in their conference, and the Black Knights will be meeting for the third time in a series that dates back to the 1990s. Army captured the first two matches, 2-1 in OT in 1993 and 2-0 in 1995.
The Friars earned a spot in the 2011 BIG EAST tournament with a conference record of 5-6-0, then reached the conference quarterfinals to finish the season with a record of 8-9-4. Providence returns 12 letterwinners along with welcoming 12 newcomers. The offense will be led by senior Laura DiClemente who finished the 2011 campaign as the Friars leading scorer with 21 points on nine goals and three assists. DiClemente will be joined by fellow senior Mary Vercollone who tallied eight points last season. Senior Jenna Roncarati, a third team All-BIG EAST selection last year, will once again serve as the anchor of the Friars' defense.
Live stats will be available on the Friars' website by following the link: http://www.friars.com/sports/w-soccer/sched/prov-w-soccer-sched.html.