Last season, the West Chester University women’s soccer team saw their successful season come to an end in disappointing fashion after getting upset by Mercyhurst in the NCAA Atlantic Region Final game. Now, after eight long off-season months, the 2009 Women’s Soccer team is ready to pick up the pieces and get a fresh start on their new season. Although they finished last season ranked No. 12, as they open up the 2009 season, the women find themselves ranked No. 17 in the country, and in a tie for first place in the PSAC Women’s Soccer preseason coache’s poll.
While Coach Betty Ann Kempf Townsley is preparing to enter her third year of coaching, she will go into the preseason training camp with the intentions of filling major positions that were left unoccupied after the conclusion of the 2008 season. Both goalkeepers are gone, there are two large holes on the defensive line, and a NSCAA First Team All-American has graduated.
Junior Cindi Nickels and sophomores Tara Malkiewicz and Brittany Couper are all returning starters who will return this season to play off of the success of last year. Joining them are juniors Kailey Watson, Jessica Bennett, and Jenna Arnold.
To anchor the attack, Townsley will rely on junior Sarah Oswald, who had a significant role in the success story of last year. The all-region and all-conference forward led the team in scoring last year with 13 goals and 30 points.
Although Coach Townsley said goodbye to her starting and back up goaltender, she has a very talented group competing to earn the title of starting net minder. Lyndsie Bernardini, Alisha Borstad, Allison Burke, and Lauren Panfile are all trying to work their way into a starting lineup.
Townsley has seen much success in her first two years of leading the soccer team. In two years, she was able to build a record of 31-6-8 as head coach. She has also led the women to the quarterfinal round or further of the NCAA Divison II tournament in both of her previous seasons.
Brittany Yetter, whose absence in the midfield will not go unnoticed, was honored by the NSCAA by being named to the 2008 Division II All-America women’s soccer team. In her senior season, Yetter finished the season with 27 points; a statistic that placed her in second place on the team in scoring.
“I was honored to be selected as a member of the All-American team,” Yetter said. “It finally felt like all my hard work had paid off. An honor like this is why I’ve enjoyed playing.”
As West Chester prepares to embark on a new season together and defend their Eastern Division Title, they will have to do it with a completely different team than last year. Nineteen new freshmen faces joined the returning upperclassmen to camp and will be vying for an opportunity to get their name in the starting lineup. With so many players competing for positions on the field, Townsley can expect the competition to be tough and the energy to be high.
The team only has two seniors, Samantha Paolino and Heather Manorek, therefore bringing plenty of youth to the organization. They will need to rely on the upperclassmen to guide and coach the freshman and make up for the lack of collegiate level experience that these young players have yet to attain.
The Golden Rams season opener will be played at home on Aug. 28, against Dominican. Their first PSAC game will be played at Bloomsburg on Sept. 2. In the PSAC Women’s Soccer preseason coaches’ poll, Bloomsburg was in a tie with West Chester for first place.
Amy Festa is a third-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. She can be reached at AF649219@wcupa.edu.