The Seattle University women’s soccer team will play its first season in the Western Athletic Conference, after competing as a NCAA Division I Independent for the past four years. This season they will have the chance to compete in the WAC tournament as well as compete for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
“Our entire athletics department is looking forward to our first season in the WAC,” said head coach Julie Woodward. “We have put together a challenging non-conference schedule, and we believe it will help us prepare for success once conference play begins. We have an exciting opening weekend at home, some great local rivalries, and the opportunity to compete for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. This season will be a great opportunity for the team, and we will be ready!”
Woodward will coach a mixture of returning and new talent, losing key players to graduation, but also adding newcomers that will make immediate contributions to the team’s success.
With the graduation of Madison Goverde, who started all but one contest for the team throughout her entire four-year career at Seattle University, the goalkeeper position will be a key one that will need to be filled immediately. The Redhawks have three young prospects to fill this position.
Redshirt freshman Aris Coover (Bellevue, Wash.) and redshirt sophomore Brittany Lott (Fort Collins, Colo.) as well as newcomer, freshman Brianna Smallidge (Port Orchard, Wash.) will compete for the open goalkeeper position. All three had impressive high school and club careers, but have not yet seen action for the Redhawks, so performances this past spring and leading up to the season will be a big indicator in who receives the starting role.
“We return two great goalkeepers in Brittany Lott and Aris Coover,” said Woodward. “Both of them saw a ton of minutes this spring. Brittany really stepped up her level of play and communication. She had some great games for us. Bri Smallidge will come in and be able to compete right away. She is a tremendous, explosive athlete.”
Despite losing Brynn Watanabe and Jordan Salisbury to graduation, the Redhawks’ starting backline will be strong and experienced, composed completely of returners from the 2011 roster. Renee Vandermause (Madison, Wisc.) walked at graduation in June 2012, but will return for the 2012 season and continue to provide veteran experience for the defenders, as she has one year of eligibility remaining. Senior Carlee Norquist (Boise, Idaho) and juniors Monique Escalera (Riverside, Calif.) and Mary Hill (Mercer Island, Wash.) will also bring strength and stability to the defensive line. Sophomore Renae Russell (Lake Forest, Calif.) and redshirt sophomore Alyssa Campagna (Las Vegas, Nev.) will round out the list of returning defenders for Seattle U.
“We return three of four of our starting defenders from the 2011 season,” said Woodward. “They work really well together and each bring different great qualities to our backline. We also have some great depth with a couple of other players getting tons of minutes this past fall and spring and really contributing to our success. Our incoming defenders are extremely athletic and I would expect they will be able to contribute and compete from the start.”
Having at least one season together already under their belt, Seattle U returns their entire starting midfield. Now that they have at least one year of experience together, they can up their game and play at an even higher level. The Redhawks will also add several newcomers in the midfield that will contribute from the beginning.
Starters Kat Prati (Moorpark, Calif.), Julia Besagno (Maple Valley, Wash.), and Taylor Bolibol (Woodinville, Wash.) will provide upperclassmen leadership for the midfielders, combining for five goals and four assists in 2011. Returners Kiana Kraft (Kent, Wash.), Taylor Ritzman (Holladay, Utah), Heather Thomas (Woodinville, Wash.), Jacqui Wallis (Lake Oswego, Calif.), Chelsea Jennings (Tacoma, Wash.), and Liana Heberer (Oceanside, Calif.) will also bring experience to the position. Despite the large number of returners, freshmen Kelly Beck (Tacoma, Wash.) and Stephanie Conard (Everett, Wash.), redshirt freshman Kristen Nakagawa (Mililani, Hawaii), and senior transfer Melissa Busque (St. Bruno, Quebec) will challenge the returners for spots in contests from the beginning of the season.
“Our whole midfield returns and had some extremely strong competition this spring,” said Woodward. “I think, of all positions, this is where we saw the most growth and improvement as a unit. I am excited to see how a full year of playing together will impact our team this fall.”
The forwards are a true mix of returning and incoming players, returning three players from last season and welcoming three new Redhawks at the forward position. Stephanie Verdoia (Salt Lake City, Utah), leading the team with four goals, four assists, and 12 total points in 2011 as a freshman, returns at starting forward. Juniors Ava Ames (Seattle, Wash.) and Shawna Anderson (Pasco, Wash.), who each saw starting time in 2011, also return. Ames scored four goals in six starts and Anderson started five games, with a goal and an assist, competing in all 19 contests last season. Seattle U welcomes newcomers, freshmen Sarah Coluccio (Seattle, Wash.), Natasha Howe (Mission Viejo, Calif.), and Julia Moravec (Spokane, Wash.) who will compete and contribute for the Redhawks right away.
“The great thing about our forwards is we have many talented players who can contribute at any time and it will make this position extremely competitive,” said Woodward. “I would expect for many of them to get lots of minutes. Every single forward could step on the field and make a contribution for us.”
The Redhawks will open the regular season hosting Washington at 4 p.m. on Aug. 17 at Championship Field. The Soccer Crosstown Community Celebration will start at 3 p.m. prior to the match. The team will round out opening weekend hosting St. Mary's College at 1 p.m. on Aug. 19.
Men's and women's soccer season tickets are now on sale, along with ticket packages for other fall and winter sports. Soccer season tickets are $75 apiece for reserved chairback seating (mid-field) and $50 for general admission seating. Single game tickets for all athletic events are available at the door/gate starting 60 minutes prior to game time. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit www.GoSeattleU.com or call the Redhawk Ticket Office at (206) 398-GOSU (4678).
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