HIRAM, OHIO — The 2010 Hiram College women’s soccer team will boast another experienced team this fall as all but two starters return from a year ago to go along with 15 letterwinners as the Terriers look to improve upon a 7-10-2 overall record and 1-7 in the North Coast Athletic Conference last fall.
“We had equal shares of elation and frustration last season,” said seventh-year Head Coach Bob Dean. “Our goal was simply to have a winning season and we fell short last year. The elation came from the way we played and the competition level that we demonstrated in virtually every match. This group of players rose to the occassion in just about every situation. There were some tremendously important and meaningful victories..”
The Hiram offensive attack will be led this season by senior two-time All-NCAC forward Claire Conner (Aurora). Last season, Conner started all 19 games and led the team in goals (10), points (24), shots (44), shot percentage (.227), shots on goals (27) and game winning goals (three). Her 10 goals ranked in a tie for second in the conference and her 24 points were third most in the NCAC. Conner has already had a standout playing career who currently owns or shares seven individual game, season and career records, including being the all-time career goals (26) and points (65) leader.
In addition to Conner, look for junior All-NCAC player Caitlin Fortson (Ravenna) to see playing time at the forward position. A year ago, Fortson played in all 19 games and started 17. She finished third on the team goals with four for eight points. Also look for sophomores Stephanie Takeuchi (Milton, Ontario/E.C. Drury) and Chelsea Ulmer (Toledo/Sylvania Northview) to see playing time up front.
“Claire and Caitlin have proven over and over again that they are threatening every minute they are in a match,” said Dean. “They are leaders in so many ways and their blend of being two different types of “personality players” give us so many different looks at the goal..”
The midfielder and defender positions will feature a host of returning multi-position players who could see playing time at either spot. At midfielder, the Terreirs will be led by junior Kayla Durichko (Brunswick) and senior Kendra Dean (Chesterland/ West Geauga). Durichko started all but one game last season. She took three shots during the season, but did not record any goals or assists. Dean started all but one game last season and scored a goal and an assist for three points. In addition to Durichko and Dean, look for the trio of Takeuchi, Ulmer and sophomore Ernestina Zappa (Brooklyn/Laurel). Of the three returners, Takeuchi led the way offensively talling a pair of goals in three shots taken during the season for four points. Ulmer was second with a goal and an assist for three points, while Zappa added a pair of assists for two points.
“The spine of this team is so solid due to the balance and attack from our midfield.,” said Dean.
Hiram’s strenghth this season should be at the defender position led by two senior starters in three-time All-NCAC player Madison Sepp (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) and Melissa Sharpe (Eastlake/ Willoughby South). Sepp started all 18 games she played in and scored one goal during the season. She helped anchor a defense that allowed 1.48 goals per game and had six shutout victories. Sharpe played in all 19 games and started 14. She made an impact offensively finishing fourth on the team in points with five after posting two goals and an assist. Also look for sophomores Olivia Dagg (Brampton, Ontario/Central Peel Secondary), Jamie Frost (Barberton) and Lyndsay Witmer (Ashland/Hillsdale) to see playing time this fall.
“Our backline is the foundation we stand on,” said Dean. “We read well and now provide the pilot light to the attack out of the back. It gets even stronger this year with our first-year additions as well. Our need is to be more consistent and more assertive in limiting what our opponents do in our half.”
At goalkeeper, Hiram will look to senior Emily Bristol (Worcester, N.Y./Worcester Central) as the main netminder. In 2009, Bristol finished the season with a 7-10-2 record, with two shutout wins, and a 1.59 goals against average. She saw playing time in all 19 games and started 18, while making a league-leading 80 saves with a 74.1 save percentage. In addition to Bristol, sophomore Kate Valaitis (Lewis Center/Olentangy) also saw playing time last season lining up in goal in seven games. She allowed just one goal for a 0.58 g.a.a. and made three saves.
“Emily is simply one of the best keepers in the region and we need to give her the opportunity to succeed this year at a level that is higher,” said Dean. “She has been huge for us and the level of support we provide her just needs to be stronger in limiting the chances she faces. Kate was a solid backup last fall, learning a great deal in the transition as a freshman and we are looking for her to compete to take over the reigns in the future..”
The 2010 schedule will feature eight home games for the Terriers with five home contests scheduled within the first month of the season, including the season-opener against John Carroll University on Wednesday, Sept. 1. Hiram will begin the NCAC schedule in early October and will host two schools who qualified last year for the conference tournament in Allegheny (Pa.) College on Oct. 12 and Denison University in the season finale on Oct. 30.
“This is probably the most experienced team Hiram has ever fielded and, without doubt, the most difficult schedule we have ever faced.,”said Dean. “With all of that, we are extremely excited about simply finishing stronger and raising our level and expectations for the program.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION, please contact Hiram College Sports Information Director Jeff Hoedt by phone at (330) 569-5495, by FAX at (330) 569-5392 or by email at email@example.com.