The Mount St. Mary's women's soccer team heads into the 2010 season looking to take the next step in the building process. Last year, the Mount finished with its best conference record since 2002 and its best overall mark since 2003.
"We are looking to take the next step," said head coach Tom Gosselin. "We just missed the playoffs last season and this year the goal is the same, to make the NEC Tournament. We want to continue to move the program forward as I enter my fourth season at the Mount."
One of the key building blocks for the Mount is in goal, where junior Alicia Miller has established herself as one of the top keepers in the Northeast Conference. Miller posted a 1.77 goals against average with 117 saves last season. She led the league in 6.88 saves per game while her 117 saves were fourth are the Mount's all-time single-season list. Miller had three shutouts last year.
Senior Amanda Kitzmiller and freshman Alina Rakiewicz will push for time in goal for the Mount this season as well.
"Alicia is coming off a strong sophomore season," said Gosselin. "She showed a big improvement from her freshman year and we are expecting a big improvement this year as well. Alina and Amanda have worked hard during the summer and should challenge to get on the field."
The Mount defense will be led by sophomore center back Andrea Bujacich along with returning starters Amy Song, Kaitlyn Chambers and Jenna Stern. Juniors Deanna Dini and Ieva Kibirkstis along with freshman Kate Murphy will play in the back for the Mount in 2010 as well.
Bujacich started all 19 games last year as a freshman and gives the Mount a physical presence in addition to her steady play. Chambers and Stern have combined to appear in 110 games for the Mountaineers while Song started 11 games for the Mount in 2009.
"Our defense, anchored by center back Andrea Bujacich, should be a solid group. Last year, we were much improved defensively and this season we look to continue to get better on the defensive end."
The Mount has a deep and versatile midfield unit this season, led by returning sophomore starters Kelly Baker, Jourdan Brill and junior starter Mary McCarron. Juniors Sarah Malpezzi and Chrstine Reges along with sophomore Carly Deegan return in the midfield with newcomers Kaylyn Mahon, Tierney Carabba , Jackie Corley, Ragan Cote and Keriann McGettigan looking to push for time.
Baker and McCarron each had two goals and three assists last year for the Mount while Brill started all 19 games. Mahon, a graduate student, had nine goals and four assists in 51 career games at Longwood University the past four years. She enrolled in the Mount's graduate program this year and has one year of eligibility remaining. Malpezzi appeared in all 19 games last year with six starts.
"Our midfield unit will be called upon to be the engine of the team. We look forward to seeing an improvement in our offensive numbers from this group."
Up front, junior Sadie Winship is the Mount's top returning scorer with five goals and an assist in 2009. Corley and Katherine Windsor will also see time in the front for the Mount as well.
"Sadie has shown she can be dangerous from close range and from distance, which makes her a threat from anywhere on the field."
The Mount opens the 2010 season at Navy on Friday night with a 7:00 p.m. game at Navy.