BLACKSBURG, Va. – The Virginia Tech women’s soccer team begins practice this morning as it welcomes back eight starters, as well as six freshmen. The team will have its work cut out for it after a record-breaking season in 2009, as it will now be tabbed as one of the up and coming programs in the county. After finishing last season as the No. 12 team in the country, according to the NSCAA poll, the Hokies await the preseason talks and predictions as they begin to work together and prepare for what is ahead of them in 2010.
“We are very excited to begin our 2010 season,” said head coach Kelly Cagle. “While we will miss the contributions of our outstanding graduating class from 2009, we are confident in our current leadership and in our returning group. These amazing women have seen what it takes to get to the postseason now for two consecutive years, and we are looking to those experiences to help us get back to the NCAA tournament again. We welcome our newcomers and we will look for their impact to be immediate, as we will need their contributions to face the challenging schedule that lies ahead. We can’t wait to see this team come together, grow as a unit and ultimately compete at the highest levels again this season.”
Tech will look to four, three-year starters for leadership this season as Kelsey Billups, Marika Gray, Jennifer Harvey and Kelly Lynch will share the captain duties this year, each bringing insight from three different places on the field. Gray returns a wealth of talent and knowledge from the frontline, as the left-winger led the team in scoring (10) last season and has started at least 16 games in each of her two full seasons. Harvey has been a leader and making an impact for the Hokies since arriving in Blacksburg. A soldier on the field, Harvey plays both ends of the pitch with incomparable ferocity and finished last season tied for second on the team in scoring (9), going a perfect 5-for-5 on penalty kicks. Billups has split time between midfield and defense throughout her career and has been an integral part of the backfield’s success, along with classmate and aggressive defender Kelly Lynch. Lynch has started nearly every game of her three-year career, while also helping her keepers to set and tie the now school-record of nine defensive shutouts in each of the past two seasons.
“Every off-season we focus on continued leadership and off the field team development. Last spring was no exception. We have an outstanding collective group and a special senior class, who is 100% invested in this program and our team’s success. They are amazing women who will ask of themselves no less than what they expect from their peers. They will be a great example for their teammates’ future leadership opportunities as well.”
New to the team in 2010, the Hokies welcome six newcomers from all over the map. Taylor Antolino, Ashley Manning, Taylor Boone, Katie DeTuro, Dayle Colpitts and Jazmine Reeves will look to make an impact right away as they adapt to and learn how to play at the next level. Taking a closer look at this season’s incoming class:
Antolino hails from Washington Crossing, Pa., and was a four-year letterwinner at Villa Joseph Marie High School. The defender was named to the AACA All-League and Catholic Academics teams from 2007-2009. Antolino, who captained her team as a senior, was named an ESPN State-by-State Top Player, while also helping her team to a state championship in 2007 and district championships in 2007 and 2009. As an eight-year YMS Premier Comets player, Antolino was a member of the state cup finalist team in 2008 and finalist team in 2007.
Manning joins the Hokies after serving as a three-year team captain and four-year letterwinner at Loudoun Valley High School. The Round Hill, Va., native currently holds the school record for season goals after scoring 35 and career goals with 70. Manning also set record marks in assists with 50 in her career and 24 in a season. As a senior and junior, Manning earned First Team All-District and Region, Second Team All-State and First Team All-Met. In club play, Manning has captained the Loudoun Legends.
Boone, a Chapel Hill native, will come to Tech after winning four letters as a forward at East Chapel Hill High School. Boone was named the Conference Player of the Year in 2008 and the Pac-6 Player of the Year for 2009-10, while also earning All-State honors as a sophomore, junior and senior and All-South honors as a junior. Boone, who captained her team as a junior and senior, was a three-year All-Conference honoree and participated in the Clash of the Carolinas as a senior. In club play, Boone was a versatile player for Triangle United Gold, who was a semifinalist in the State Cup in 2008 and 2009.
DeTuro joins the Hokies after playing four years of varsity soccer at Monsignor Donovan High School. DeTuro finished her career with 95 goals, 28 assists and 218 points and captained her team as a junior and senior. The Brick, N.J., native was named an All-County, All-Shore Conference and Star Leger Golden Boot selection all four years. DeTuro was a five-year member of the N.J. ODP team, a regional pool selection in 2008 and a Region I regional team member in 2009. DeTuro played club ball for PDA Tsunami. While playing club, DeTuro helped her team to the USYS Region I Premier League Championship in 2008 and 2009, as well as the Disney College Showcase U17 Championship in 2010.
Colpitts becomes the second international player on Tech’s squad as she joins the Hokies from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Colpitts played for her high school, Fredericton, for just two years before joining the U20 National Team and the Women’s Canadian National Team. Colpitts helped her U20 team to the CONCACAF championships in Guatemala, while also assisting the women’s team to a 2009 Cyprus Cup championship. The experienced goalkeeper also played in the New Brunswick Canada Games. Before arriving in Blacksburg this fall, Colpitts will spend her summer playing for the Ottawa Fury.
Reeves, a Dover, Del., native, was a four-year letterwinner at Caesar Rodney High School. The talented forward was named the Delaware Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009, also earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors in 2009 and 2010. Reeves set a state record as a freshman, scoring 50 goals, and was named a team captain as a senior. She was also named first team All-State and All-Conference all four years. Reeves played three years of club soccer for the Vista Shockwave, a team that claimed the Virginia State Championship in its 2008-2009 season, and the US Club Soccer National Cup in the 2007-2008 season. The freshman was a member of an ODP Regional pool and traveled with the team to Boca as a junior and Costa Rica as a freshman. As a senior, Reeves was named DEPreps Female Athlete of the Year and Marine Corps Most Outstanding Female Athlete in 2010.
“Our newcomers will be welcomed with open arms and will have a unique opportunity to be a part of our continued growth here at Virginia Tech. We expect them to contribute immediately and we have no doubt that they will help us on and off the field this fall. They seem to be excited about our program’s culture and state of affairs, just as we are excited about them as people and talented soccer players. We think this is a very talented group and we can’t wait to get them indoctrinated into our program this pre season.”
Sitting between the seasoned veterans and the untested newcomers lie some of Tech’s most lethal weapons for 2010. The Hokies return a majority of their starters from the 2009 season and impact-players such as sophomores Kelly Conheeney and Kelsey Mitchell, along with juniors Brittany Michels and Brittany Popko will look to rise above again this season. Conheeney, a midfielder, had a breakout season in her collegiate premiere, finishing the year tied for second on the team in scoring (9) and netting four game-winners in the process, which resulted in her garnering numerous postseason accolades. Mitchell, Michels and Popko were all vital pieces of a strong defensive unit last season that, like Lynch, helped the team tie the school’s defensive shutout record that was set a year prior. The three defenders also contributed offensively and combined for three goals and two assists on the season.
“Our leadership does not stop with our seniors, as we will be returning some of our most minutes played from last fall. Those minutes will be invaluable as we navigate our way through a tough non-conference schedule and a bear of an ACC league. Each of our returners impacted our 2009 journey to the round of 16 and we will look to each of them to guide us again this fall. We as a staff couldn’t be happier with our current leadership and we believe it will be a strength of ours yet again in 2010.”
The Hokies will have just over two weeks to prepare for their season, including one exhibition match against Richmond at Thompson Field on Saturday, August 14th at 7 p.m. They will kick off their season just under a week later at Elon and host American three days later on Monday, August 23rd at 5 p.m., before hitting the road for two weeks for tournament play. Two of the four teams Tech will face on the road in tournaments are teams who finished the 2009 season ranking in the top 20 in the country.
Follow junior Katie Cramp throughout the preseason as she blogs during the team's two-week preseason camp at www.hokiesports.com/wsoccer/blog.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WSoccer).