Sept. 3, 2003
Head coach Joe Mallia has built the Loyola women?s soccer program into a program that is gaining national recognition as one of the up and comingprograms in the country. His teams have been recognized for their strongrecruiting classes, earned All-American status, been one of the top MetroAtlantic Athletic Conference teams over the past 11 years; earning aplethora of MAAC awards and earned two consecutive invitations to the NCAAtournament.
The goal that lies ahead of the 2003 squad is to continue that nationalrecognition with a tough schedule of nationally ranked teams, competing atthe highest level of the sport. "We've proven ourselves capable ofcompeting with some great teams especially last season; Maryland, Rutgers,Loyola-Marymount, West Virginia and many more; now Loyola needs to buildthat to the point of defeating any of those teams and any other on any givenday," Mallia said. "We?ve proven ourselves in the MAAC and want to earnthat national recognition as a top team."
The Greyhounds lost three players to graduation in Regional All-Americastandouts Audra Garuccio and Annie DiPalo as well as three-time All-MAAC pick Becky Bieneman.
"The loss of Audra, Annie and Becky will of course be felt on the field,"Mallia said. "But more than that, the losses of two four-year starters;Annie and Audra. They were the cornerstones of our defensive unit as wellas the true leaders of this squad."
But Mallia should have no doubts in the strength of his young squad. Thefreshman and sophomore classes were ranked as the 35th and 34th recruitingclass in the nation by Soccer Buzz. The Greyhounds have won threeconsecutive MAAC titles as well as a total of 17 spots on the last threeAll-MAAC teams. Sophomore Ashley Kramer was named the 2002 Rookie of theYear and was joined on the All-Rookie squad by classmates Naomi Daniels andLisa Jaffa.
"The past two recruiting classes have probably been the best in Loyolawomen?s soccer history," Mallia said. "Although we are a young team, all ofour players have the ability to contribute significantly from the get go. Ihave the utmost confidence in them all, from freshman to seniors."
Along with their always competitive MAAC schedule, the Greyhounds havethree tournaments scheduled early in the season. They start off at theFlorida Atlantic Kickoff Classic with scheduled meetings with the host andMiami. Then Loyola travels to the Louisiana State University Tiger Classicto meet up with McNeese State and the host, LSU. Loyola will finally returnto the state of Maryland to face American before participating in theMaryland/addidas Classic at the University of Maryland. Loyola will alsocompete with William & Mary in the Maryland tournament. The Greyhounds willalso visit Rutgers, Pennsylvania and Villanova as a part of theirnon-conference schedule.
"For our program the month of September is about testing ourselvesagainst top national competition inside and out of our region," Malliasaid. "These games will help us gauge where we are regarding our ability tocompete at the national level."
Here is a look at the 2003 Greyhound squad, position-by-position.
"Coming off a great freshman campaign, our staffs expectations for Naomiare even higher," said Mallia, "With her growing commitment to the program,we feel her contribution is going to be a significant element in ourabilities to compete at a national level."
As Hurley enters her fourth season on the Evergreen campus, she will takeon the responsibility of senior tri-captain.
"In Diana?s last season," Mallia said, "we anticipate an increased roleon the field along with the tremendous leadership she will bring to ourprogram."
In addition to the Kramer and Hurley, Mallia adds freshmen Katelyn Woodsand Carolyn Kennington to the attack unit as well as Courtney Arikian.Arikian is expected to split time amongst the forward and midfieldpositions.
"This is easily the most dangerous attacking combination we?ve brought inin the history of our program," Mallia said. "It should lend to a veryexciting attacking style of soccer."
The midfield groups returns all of its weapons from 2002. Seniortri-captains Rebecca Brady and Katie Elliott all return as well as juniorsLeigh Ann Mastrini, Ellen Sroka and Jeannetta McGettigan. In addition tothat extensive group, Mallia is adding freshmen Allie Hartrick and Arikianwill add support.
Elliott will lead the front end of the midfield along with McGettigan.McGettigan is Loyola?s leading returning scorer with six goals and sixassists in 2002. She started in 10 games and while playing in all 20.
"With the great season Jeannetta had last year," Mallia said. "We arevery excited about the contributions she will make on the game field thisyear as she brings more experience to our program."
Elliott is the teams most experienced player having seen action in all60 games Loyola has played since her rookie campaign and has scored a totalof 12 goals and tallied 16 assists. Those numbers already rank her in theLoyola?s All-Time Top 10 list in scoring, goals and assists. She is ninthin overall scoring, tied for seventh in goals and is just one away from,tying the record in assists.
"Katie has carried much of the attacking responsibility for this programover the last three years. With the development of our sophomore class andthe ability of our incoming freshman, she should now bear less of thatresponsibility." Mallia said. "With that in mind, we feel strongly that sheis on the verge of her best season yet at Loyola."
Brady has played in 58 games over her career three-year as a Greyhounds.Last season, she scored two goals as well as an assist but more importantlyshe is a clear leader of this squad.
"Brady - as well as Katie and Diana - as seniors and captains, will ofcourse be who we, as a coaching staff, look to to lead the team," Malliasaid. "She is always composed and patient on the field and, I think, a goodexample for the freshman."
Sroka is a junior with a wealth of experience. She has seen significantminutes in the past two seasons and is a definite asset to the Loyola team.
Mastrini also adds to the attacking unit of the midfield. Mastriniscored two goals and added an assist in 2002
"Both Ellen and Leigh Ann have played significant roles over the past twoseasons in our program," Mallia said. "We expected their roles to continueto grow within the program along with their contribution. They each havethe ability to make significant impacts on the game."
Freshman Allie Hartrick will add depth to the midfield postion.
Although the defense looses its cornerstones in Garuccio and DiPalo, thegroup still returns five strong players. Starters Lindsay Tracey and LisaJaffa return as well as juniors Jessica Piccolo, Molly Meredith and CourtneyWolff.
Both Tracey and Jaffa, started at least 15 games in 2002 as anintegral part of the defensive unit. Tracey is also capable of scoring,with her goal and four assists in 2002 while Jaffa added two goals herself.Jaffa was also named to the MAAC All-Rookie team last season.
"We have a changing of the guard in the back with the departure of Annieand Audra," Mallia said. "We are confident that both Lisa and Lindsey arecapable of filling that void. It is huge expectation to fill but I thinkthey are both prepared to rise to the challenge."
Piccolo is a junior who started in eight of 16 outings last season whileclassmate, Meredith saw time in 10 games.Both add depth and experience to an already talented lineup.
Wolff is expected to see increased time on the field this season as aveteran of the group.
"As for the other open positions at back, we are confident that Jessica,Molly and Courtney will help solidify that unit."
McCusker and Klar are expected to compete for significant playing time.
What a difference a year makes. The position that may have been in mostdoubt a year ago promises a bright future in years to come.
Niemann had a breakout year in 2002. She played every minute in goal forthe Greyhounds while posting an impressive 0.72 goals against average and a.826 saves percentage. She set a new school record for shutouts in a seasonwith 11. It is expected that Erica will begin the season as the Greyhoundsstarting goalkeeper.
"Erica had a great sophomore season and was one of the main components inour success last year," Mallia said. "Her commitment to the game and thisprogram has allowed her to reach her potential as a goalkeeper. Everydayshe becomes more of a leader for our players."
Gilfillan has yet to play for the Greyhounds due to an injury just beforetraining camp last year but will be a definite asset and could vie forplaying time against Niemann.
"Kate has the tools for the trade, unfortunately her injury set her backin the 2002 season," Mallia said. "As she gets used to the soccerenvironment at Loyola she will continue to flourish and ultimately becomepart of a great goalkeeping tandem."