SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury University women's soccer team and Head Coach Kwame Lloyd are ready for the 2014 season to be underway. The season is set to begin on Friday and Lloyd is optimistic about his team's chances.
"I'm really excited for the team," Lloyd said. "Everyone came back fit this year, which is really exciting for the team."
The Sea Gulls had a busy weekend last weekend, adding two scrimmages to their normal preseason practice routine, to prepare for the season. "We looked good and we looked like we were on the same page," Lloyd said.
SU will look to improve from last season, which saw the Gulls finish with an overall mark of 10-6-4 and 5-2-1 in the Capital Athletic Conference, and a loss in the CAC tournament semifinals. Lloyd is confident that his team can bounce back to the championship game because of the way the upperclassmen have looked, and how the newcomers are following in their footsteps.
"Our upperclassmen looked like they were poised and on the ball, and the freshmen looked like they were learning from what the upperclassmen were doing," Lloyd said.
Salisbury is bringing back a slew of goal scorers at the forward position, led by juniors Logan O'Meara and Victoria Luc. Both O'Meara and Luc were major contributors to the offense, tying for first on the team in goals scored, with five on the season. They will both look to use their creativity to find the back of the net in the same fashion as last year.
"Both Logan O'Meara and Victoria Luc have been playing well at the position," Lloyd said. "They both are very creative and smart, and comfortable with the ball at their feet."
Sophomore Lindsey Andonian, who scored three goals and notched six assists last season, will look to make another key contribution to the offense this year after being selected to the Second-Team All-CAC last year. Junior Jenna DeLetto, who played defense last year, will move up and see time at the forward position.
The Gulls will also have Marissa Walker back as a sophomore. Walker found the back of the net three times, and tallied two assists last season. The lone senior at forward, Morgan Brasch, will look to play a leadership role and provide some more offense for the team after she recovers from her injury. Brasch scored a goal and had an assist last year. Lloyd said that he is excited about the core group of players from last year coming back at the position.
"It's a seasoned group at the forward position and they are healthy," Lloyd said. "I love the way they score goals by working off each other and being unselfish."
The Sea Gulls are returning a bulk of players at the midfield position for the 2014 season, which will be led by junior standout Samantha Beck. Beck led the team in points with 14, tied for first on the team in goals scored with O'Meara and Luc, netting five goals, and was second on the team in assists, with four on the year.
"We have creative players like Samantha Beck coming back," Lloyd said. "She brings a certain 'soccer savviness' to the game that is exciting to watch."
Sophomore Jenny Gavigan, who was selected to the Second-Team All-CAC last year, has hopes to continue her success at the position. Gavigan recorded an assist last season. Sophomores Jayne Pinsky, Lauren Minghenelli, and Erin McQuate will each look to make an impact at the midfield spot as well. Pinsky found the back of the net once, while garnering two assists. McQuate added one assist on the season.
"I have seen tremendous growth in our freshman class from last year who are now sophomores," Lloyd said.
"Our freshmen this year do not have inhibition," Lloyd said. "They like to shoot and they are definitely following the lead of our sophomores and juniors."
"Our midfield is our core," Lloyd said. "They are technical and creative, and they are great to work with."
Salisbury is expected to have a strong defense this season, with the core of the back line coming back, according to Lloyd. The defense will be led by juniors Tabitha Brown, Heather Deamond, and Casey Arnone. Brown, who was Third-Team All-Region and First-Team All-CAC, played and started in all 20 games on the defense and also made an offensive contribution, scoring two goals and adding an assist, while Deamond made a major contribution on the defensive side, and also notched an assist. Arnone started in 13 games as a defender and notched an assist.
Senior Jackie Holtzman, who contributed to a defense that allowed only 15 goals last year, will also look to make a difference this year.
"Jackie has emerged as a leader on this team," Lloyd said. "She put a lot of time in, passed her fitness test, and gained a lot of confidence."
Another junior that is predicted to stand out is Jackie Lambergman, who played in 18 games last season.
"The player that I am really impressed with from the work that she put in is Jackie Lambergman," Lloyd said. "She knows when to play it short and when to play it long, and she looks composed on the ball."
Lloyd also said there are some key freshmen coming in that will add to the success of the defense in Mary Anderson, Rachel Anderson, and Kylie Sanders. Lloyd added that they are mimicking the leaders on the defense with the way they are playing, and their maturity levels.
"The future is really bright with the freshmen defenders," Lloyd said.
The Sea Gulls are looking to continue their success at goalkeeper, with senior leader and 2013 Salisbury University Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year Michelle Conrad returning. Conrad saved 64 balls, recorded two shutouts, and marked a goals-against average of 0.88 last season. Conrad played and started in 17 games with 1127:25 minutes in goal.
"It is great to have Michelle coming back," Lloyd said. "She has a lot of experience and will be a leader on this team."
"We have added Ellen Anderson, who will add athleticism and height to the field," Lloyd said.
Salisbury opens their season in Lexington, Virginia, with a match against Bridgewater (Va.) on Friday and a game against Washington and Lee University on Saturday. The team also has tough matches at Richard Stockton College, Carnegie Mellon University, and Otterbein University, before opening home play against Messiah College on September 13.
"I'm excited for the season and we have a great schedule," Lloyd said. "Hopefully we can come out of the first two weekends 4-0."
The Gulls will begin CAC play with a home game against Southern Virginia University on Sept. 27, and will look to be in competition for the CAC title.
"I have adopted a philosophy that was set here by former coach Jim Nestor," Lloyd said. "To be the best, you have to beat the best."