Tech women's soccer cleared for take off
Cagle, Hokies look to build on successful 2004 campaign
August 18, 2005 BLACKSBURG, Va. -- During its inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Virginia Tech women's soccer team proved to the rest of the NCAA that it's a team to be reckoned with, finishing with an 11-9-0 record, and receiving a bid to the NCAA Women's Soccer Championship. With 10 starters returning and 15 letterwinners on the squad, head coach Kelly Cagle and her staff will strive to build on last season's success during the 2005 campaign. Under Cagle's guidance, her teams have shattered nearly every single record in school history, including seven team records and four individual ones. The Hokies went 4-5-0 during the ACC regular season, one that featured at least six teams in the top-25 for much of the season, and the program's first winning season in school history. Only six players departed off last year's team - and only two played in at least ten games - giving all the returners one solid season of playing alongside each other. With a solid foundation of experienced players returning in 2005, and three more that redshirted last year, Cagle and her staff needed to fill only a few holes in the roster, and did so by signing six players who will help the team gel. "Last year was a new and challenging experience for such a young team in the nation's best conference, the ACC," Cagle said. "I thought we handled the demands really well, especially early in the season. With all the experience returning and the addition of a talented group of newcomers we feel much more prepared to face one of the toughest schedules in the nation with 11 of our 19 opponents qualifying for the 2004 NCAA Tournament. We have no doubt this schedule will have us more prepared to enter post season play in 2005." Goalkeepers Having started all but the first game of her career, junior Mallory Soldner has been solid between the pipes the last two seasons, and is close to owning every goalkeeper record in the Tech record book. She was also a big reason why the Hokies won their first two ACC matches and reached the first round of the NCAA championship. Soldner will feel some pressure from redshirt-freshman Ashley Owens. The 5-10 goalie from Western Guilford High School in Greensboro, N.C., led her team to the state championship in 2002 and advanced to the semifinals in 2003. "Mallory has gained some valuable experience and performed very well over the course of the last two years," Cagle said. "We also expect a lot from Ashley, and look for her to challenge for the starting role this fall. The competition between them will only continue to make our goalkeeping position better in the future." Defenders The last line of players on the field is a group of athletes who spent much of last season on the field together. Senior Kjersti Trout will once again be counted on to anchor the back line, which returns four starters from the 2004 squad. She took charge of a young group in 2004, helping them shutout three of their first four opponents, including Maryland in the program's first-ever ACC game, a 2-0 victory on the road. Trout is versatile enough to play nearly any position on the field, but her aggressiveness on defense has led the way. Sophomores Lindsay Alexander and Mary Elizabeth Newton started every contest as did Trout. Ashley Kinser started all but one, with Alexander playing central and Kinser and Newton as outside backs. Sophomore Jordan Parsels is coming off an excellent spring season and should compete for increased playing time this fall. Redshirt freshman Rachel Young will vie for playing time. Young missed the 2004 season after reconstructive ACL surgery prior to her arrival on campus. Newcomer Kimberly Hickey should also make an immediate impact on the Hokies back line in 2005. "We are extremely fortunate to have the core of our back line returning this fall," Cagle said. "With the addition of Kim Hickey and the promising play of sophomore Jordan Parsels this past spring we feel that we have some much needed depth and competition for playing time in 2005." Midfielders Senior second-year captain Molly McCall returns to Tech's midfield after proving she is one of the team's most dependable players. With a tremendous work ethic, she is always trying to improve her game and help everyone around her. Senior Shannon Poach came on strong, taking advantage of the strong left foot that she possesses. A threat any time she touches the ball, she has the ability to blast a shot past the opposing goalkeeper or serve the ball downfield to open space for one of her teammates. Ashley Stoutland saw valuable minutes last year, contributing her first career goal in the process. Fellow senior Andrea Angelos returns and will once again be looked to provide depth and leadership in a talented midfield. Sophomore Heather Hallberg, an All-ACC Freshman selection in 2004, started every game in 2004 and is a constant threat to score out of midfield. Erin Moore, a midfielder/forward, showed she was a huge offensive threat last season with her speed and ability to see things unfold a couple of plays in advance. Moore recorded a team-best seven assists while also netting two goals. Sophomore Meghan Devine contributed significantly the last half of the season and should vie for more minutes this fall. Fellow sophomores Gina Om and Elizabeth Guise were injured most of last season, but both had very strong spring seasons and will no doubt factor into Cagle's midfield equation. Newcomer Mauri Liberati, the two-time Deleware Gatorade Player of the Year, is expected to make a significant impact in the Hokie central midfield this fall. Incoming freshman Mallory Jones will look to crack into a wide midfield role. "Our midfield is where our experience and depth lie, which is very important to the success of our team," Cagle said. "We ask a lot from our midfield in terms of work rate, so we are glad to have such reliable depth. "We have great personality players out wide for us and solid, hardworking central midfielders to do the work we need them to do." Forwards Sophomore Ashley Stinson became one of the most prolific scorers in not only Virginia Tech history, but also in the NCAA last season, finishing in the top 20 in points and goals per contest. The 5-6 ACC Freshman of the Year and Freshman All-American netted 17 goals and five assists for 39 points. Newcomer Laurie Beth (LB) Puglisi, a 5-10 freshman forward from Arlington, Va., will be a factor in Cagle's plans and should partner well with Stinson up top. Speedy newcomer Ashley Seldon will also look to compete for minutes in her freshman campaign up front or as a wide midfielder. Sigridur Gudmundsdottir, will also provide great depth both in midfield and up top. "We are excited to have Stinson back after off-season ACL surgery," Cagle said. "After such a record-setting season in 2004, she will no doubt have the opponents' attention this fall. However, with the addition of LB to the mix, we feel that we now have two excellent goal-scoring threats on our front line. Seldon will give our team a different look with her speed and quickness and Sigridur looks to provide some experience for us up front." Schedule This season, Tech plays one of the toughest schedules in the nation, facing 11 teams that reached the NCAA Tournament last year. In the ACC alone, the Hokies face six others that reached the tournament and despite the conference not claiming a national championship in 2004, it is still regarded as the best in the nation. The program will host conference foes Miami, Florida State, Virginia and North Carolina this season in addition to traveling to Duke, Wake Forest, Clemson, NC State, Maryland and ACC newcomer Boston College. Outside the ACC, things will not be any easier as the Hokies are slated to play in the Wake Forest Invitational against San Diego and Santa Clara. Last year, both made the NCAA Championship and Santa Clara knocked off North Carolina in the round of 16. Tech begins the season on the road at American Aug. 26 before its first home match against VCU on Aug. 28. From there, the Hokies hit the road for two consecutive weeks - at the Wake Forest Invitational and the College of Charleston Tournament - before returning to the friendly confines of the Virginia Tech Soccer Stadium for games against Colorado College and UNC Greensboro. Tech has a run of 10 straight conference games, including the last three on the road, before ending the regular season at Radford. In Cagle, opponents have begun to recognize the face of one of the best young coaches in the country. In two years, she has broken every goal her team has set, but it isn't enough. "McCall, Stoutland, Poach, Trout and Angelos have been integral parts in the quick transformation of the program and were major factors in our 2004 squad having the best season in program history, advancing to our first NCAA Women's Soccer Championship," Cagle said. "We expect bigger and better things from them all in their final season." Having gotten a taste of the postseason last year, Cagle, her staff and players want to show the rest of the country that they will be a force to be reckoned with.