Women's Soccer Begins Preparations For 2003 Season
New coach Kelly Cagle will rely on seniors for leadership
August 14, 2003 BLACKSBURG, Va. - With a new soccer stadium to showcase their talents in, the 2003 Virginia Tech women's soccer team is ready to begin preparations for the tough schedule ahead of them this fall. Every player on the roster reported on Wednesday, and practice commenced this morning for the Hokies. First-year head coach Kelly Cagle is excited about the challenges ahead for her team. "We are very excited about the 2003 season. We are looking to our senior class to help lead this team to one of it's best seasons in the program's history," said Cagle. "Along the way, we hope to create a professional environment that breeds competition to ensure future success in the BIG EAST and beyond." With the aid of seven returning seniors, the team will look to improve upon the 2-4 conference record of 2002 in their third year in the league. Cagle, who came to Tech from the Atlanta Beat of the Women's United Soccer Association, will be looking to improve upon the Hokies' 6-11-1 record last season. Prior to playing for the beat, Cagle held assistant coaching positions at both Wake Forest University and the University of Texas. As a three-time All-American and All-ACC selection during her collegiate career at Duke, Cagle brings valuable NCAA tournament experience to the Hokie squad who will face stiff BIG EAST and non-conference competition during the 2003 season. After losing only two seniors from the 2002 team, the Hokies will return all of their potent offensive attack, which scored a combined 25 goals last year. The team will also return both goalkeepers, who teamed up for 100 saves in 18 games in 2002. GOALKEEPERS The Hokies have two experienced goalkeepers returning in junior Natasha Dirda (McKees Rocks, Pa.) and senior Katie Hancock (Stockton, Md.). Dirda stepped in for an injured Hancock in 2002 and started 14 games while making 73 saves. Dirda, who won the starting job last fall, will bring her athleticism and vocal leadership to the Hokies' solid defense. Hancock started 20 games in 2001 before being forced to sit out with an injury for part of last season. Hancock will vie for the starting spot while bringing valuable experience to the position. Newcomers Mallory Soldner (Lanesville, Ind.) and Hillary Lehman (Richmond, Va.) will join the Hokies this fall and will provide much-needed depth as they vie for playing time as netminder this fall. DEFENDERS The Tech team returns a wealth of experience in the back line. Senior Blair Eason (Virginia Beach, Va.) will join fellow senior Jessica Russell (Arlington, Va.), who started 13 games last fall, vying for time in the back. Sophomore Ashley Stoutland (Avondale, Pa.) is expected to compete for the job at the left back position where her athleticism and willingness to get into the attack will add to the experienced defense. Sophomores Haley Grant (Clifton, Va.) and Pam Schneider (Fairfax, Va.) will compete for playing time and offer additional support in the back line. Newcomers Sarah Bowen (Great falls, Va.), Lauren Eaton (Fredricksburg, Va.) and Lauren Moscator will also help to add depth to the defense as they vie for playing time in their first season. MIDFIELDERS Midfielders Emily Barnhart (Columbus, Ohio) and Molly McCall (Falls Church, Va.) will help to strengthen the Hokie midfield positions. Barnhart, a three-year starter for the Hokies, will be an integral part of the midfield after a seven-goal, six-assist junior campaign McCall, a sophomore, will compete for a starting role after seeing limited playing time during the 2002 season due to an injury. McCall has great ball-winning ability, and her tenacious playing style will provide the Hokies with numerous scoring opportunities. Grant, junior Kristel Jacobson (Hampton, N.H.) and sophomore Sarah Kammerer (Moon Township, Pa.) will be counted on to provide depth in the midfield and will bring starting experience to the spot. Kathy Holdsworth (Sarasota, Fla.) has been a game-winning goal scoring expert for the Hokies and is expected to start in the midfield. With four goals and an assist to her credit last season, Holdsworth is an outstanding ball winner and will be counted on as a playmaker down the stretch. Kammerer and Jacobson are expected to vie for valuable minutes and could factor into the Hokie attack. At the outside midfielder positions, senior Jessica Myers (Richmond, Va.) and sophomore Shannon Poach (Chesapeake, Va.) will vie for starting spos at the right and left positions, respectively. Myers has the ability to beat defenders one-on-one. Complementing Myers on the left side, Poach is the only true left-footed player on the Hokie team and possesses a dangerous shot from that side to give the Hokies an added offensive weapon. Senior Nina Figueroa (Vienna, Va.) and junior Ryan Johnson (Eagleville, Pa.) will also vie for time on both sides. Freshman Morgann Wagner (Midlothian, Va.), Kani Brownlee (xxxx) and Mocator will also challenge the upperclassmen for playing time in the midfield. FORWARDS Johnson and Jacobson will battle for the forward spot and may share time at the position. Johnson's speed and athleticism provides for a dangerous weapon, while Jacobson's ability as a target forward will add to the Hokie offense. Both Johnson and Jacobson, who started 17 games last season, will bring valuable playing experience to the Hokies up front. Figueroa, Kammerer, Grant and Schneider will look to be role players coming off of the bench at the forward spot and will add depth to the Hokie offense. Schneider will factor in as a utility player who can fill in at several positions in the back and midfield. Freshman Heather Pearson (Crofton, Md.) will also figure in the mix as she competes for playing time. Pearson will add depth to the roster as she looks to help the Hokies out on the front line. THE SCHEDULE With only seven home games for the Hokies this season, the Tech women will look to steal wins on the road in both the tough BIG EAST Conference and non-conference play. The team will make its debut in the newly constructed soccer stadium against American on Sept. 2. Tech will also play host to nationally-ranked Connecticut and top conference foes Miami, St. John's, Rutgers and Georgetown. Cagle will look to the game experience and leadership of the senior class to lead the Hokie team in the 2003 season. With strong competition at every position, Cagle expects the team to thrive and improve at each individual position and as a whole. The Hokies are looking to emerge as a serious contender in the BIG EAST Conference and earn a spot in NCAA tournament play. With a balance of an experienced team and a strong schedule, the Hokies have all the makings for an exciting season. --VT-- .