Aug. 20, 2009
After two weeks of practices, intra-squad games and preparation, the Loyola women's soccer team will take he field for its first match that counts in the win-loss columns on Sunday, August 23, 2009.
The Greyhounds travel a just over 50 miles to the west for a match-up that has not taken place since the 1996 season.
Loyola and Mount St. Mary's renew a series that started in 1992 - the Greyhounds' first year of varsity competition - but has not been played since 1996.
The first regular-season match for both sides begins at 4 p.m. at The Mount's Waldron Family Stadium.
A deep foundation of returners will dot the field for the Greyhounds, and Head Coach Katherine Vettori will add 10 newcomers to the rotation in 2009.
"It's exciting to mix in the 10 newcomers to continue to build on the success Loyola women's soccer has achieved," Vettori said.
Loyola finished the 2008 season with a 10-6-4 record, going 7-0-2 in Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference action and winning the league's regular-season title.
Seventeen players return from last year, led by All-MAAC honorees in the forward, midfield, back and goalkeeper positions.
Up top, graduate student Theresa Ferraina returns to lead the Greyhounds' attack. The All-MAAC First Team forward and 2009 Preseason All-MAAC performer moved into ninth place all-time at Loyola with 48 career points. She scored 26 total points last season with team-highs of nine goals and eight assists.
"'T' has incredible determination," Vettori said of her Academic All-American. "She gets to the end line well and finds runners, and she has a great service to distribute well. Her work ethic is unbelievable, and she goes as hard as she can to be the best player she can be."
"Shuck does a great job of putting pressure on opponents and creating turnovers. She has fantastic vision and reads the game well," said Vettori. "Nichole and Joie add extra dimensions to our attack."
In the midfield, two All-MAAC performers - junior Kelly Farrell and senior Christina Gomez and a team co-captain, senior Colleen Kinealy, lead an experienced Greyhounds' squad amplified by new talent.
Farrell and Gomez were third and fourth, respectively, on the team last season in scoring. Farrell tallied three goals and distributed four assists, while Gomez scored four times and had an assist. They will be joined by two players who saw considerable action last season - senior Andrea Toro and sophomore Keri Iheagwara - and three freshmen - Gigi Mangione, Tessa McClenahan and Jenny Thornton.
"Kelly Farrell has had a great preseason, building on the success that she had last season," Vettori said. "Keri has made great strides through hard work. Toro and Tessa will help us win many more 50-50 balls because they are so strong in the air."
Kinealy is returning from a knee injury suffered during the spring 2008 practices, but thanks to her desire to win and work ethic, she is back at full strength. She was voted team co-captain along with Ferraina.
"Colleen is returning from an ACL injury phenomenally," Vettori said. "She is coming back quick than anticipated which is a credit to how hard she and (Athletic Trainer) Kate Hill worked this summer and last spring. She has a fitness level above anyone on the team."
The defense is lined with four talented returning starters as backs and a two-time All-MAAC First Team goalkeeper.
Brittany Henderson steps between the pipes for her final season on the Evergreen Campus poised for an excellent season. Henderson, the 2007 MAAC Defensive Player of the Year, posted a .707 saves percentage last season, earning All-MAAC First Team honors for the second-consecutive season.
"Brittany came to preseason in the best shape of her college career," Vettori said. "We are looking for her to do very well in goal this year. She's playing with a renewed determination."
Senior Heather Cooke and Amanda Meehan and junior Kelly Thomas return on the back line, bolstered by the addition of junior Lina Staropoli to their unit. A starter for her first two seasons in the defensive midfield, Staropoli will join Cooke as a center back this year.
"Lina has great vision and great technical skills at the point of attack. She can really help us start our offense through our backs, too," Vettori said. "Cooke is a fearless defender. She is a great ball winner and just overall an incrediably strong player.
"Meehan has the ability to get forward and has a strong service. She's an excellent 1-v-1 defender, as well. `K-Tom' is a very smart player and has a fantastic service as an outside back."
The Greyhounds play four games - Sunday at The Mount, August 28 at High Point, August 30 at Wake Forest and September 1 at Maryland - before making their 2009 home debut at 5 p.m. on Friday, September 4, against Lafayette.
If you can't make it to Diane Geppi-Aikens Field for that match, or any home match, all Greyhounds' home contests will be available through Greyhounds All-Access on www.loyolagreyhounds.com