Season Preview: Sea Gulls enter 2016 season loaded with talent and experience, looking to earn the program's fifth CAC title

Season Preview: Sea Gulls enter 2016 season loaded with talent and experience, looking to earn the program's fifth CAC title

SALISBURY, Md. – The Salisbury University women's soccer team and Head Coach Kwame Lloyd are eager for the 2016 season after a great run to the Capital Athletic Conference tournament last year. The Sea Gulls return veteran leadership and a seasoned team of returners who are eager to show their merit and bring home the program's fifth CAC championship banner this season.

"Winning the conference tournament is our top priority this year, and from there we want to put ourselves in the right position to go into playoffs healthy and confident," Lloyd said.

Lloyd, who begins his fourth season at the helm, will rely heavily on his seasoned returners that led the Gulls to a 12-4-2 overall record in 2015 (6-2-1 in CAC play). Lloyd is also enthusiastic to see what this freshman class will bring to the team.

"This year's freshmen are ballers; they look excellent in preseason and they've earned the team's respect," Lloyd said.

Offensively, Lloyd and the Sea Gulls will see a changing of the guard at the forward role this season after graduating a large portion of its offensive threat, including scoring duo Victoria Luc and Logan O'Meara, last May.
Despite the personnel change, the Sea Gulls are in no ways short on talent or depth as they return a veteran group who are, "itching to prove themselves offensively," Lloyd said. 

The 2016 edition of the Sea Gull offense will be led by senior Erin McQuate, juniors Ruthie Lucas and Alex Pryor, and sophomore Jenna Taylor, who moves from the midfield to forward. This dynamic group will look to bring back that same energy and intensity that notched them a combined 10 goals and three assists last season.

A new addition to the forwards is freshman Lydia Narum, who "has been playing phenomenal in preseason and has already solidified herself as a top player in our offense," Lloyd said.

The Sea Gulls look to return a talented and senior laden midfield controlled by Jayne Pinsky. The Haddon Heights, New Jersey native has been the heartbeat of the team for the last three seasons, and was essential in the Sea Gulls reaching the heights they did a season ago.
"Jayne's our facilitator, she keeps everything moving and wants to make everyone around her look good," Lloyd said. "As far as distribution and toughness goes, she's legit, you won't find a player who gives more of herself to the game than Jayne."
Pinsky will also look to fellow seniors Jenny Gavigan (First-team All-CAC in 2014) and Lauren Minghenelli to complete the leadership role and bring back loads of experience and talent to Salisbury's core.
"Our strength is our midfield; they've been playing together since they were freshmen," Lloyd said. "There won't be a scenario they are unfamiliar with."

Coach Lloyd and the Sea Gulls will look to rebuild their defensive wall after graduating five defenders last season, including two all-conference honorees. The Sea Gulls will look to their seasoned upperclassmen to help fill in the cracks.

"We graduated three solid starters, but I'm confident in our returners who are eager to prove themselves," Lloyd said.
The Sea Gulls will rely tremendously on senior defensive specialist Carli Dixon and fellow classmate Lindsey Andonian (Second-team All-CAC 2013), to be the defensive anchors in the back. Andonian, the Gaithersburg, Maryland resident, will enjoy a change of scenery this season as she transitions from scoring goals to stopping them.

"She's really been enjoying her experience there; the move enables her more space to be creative," Lloyd said. "She's a competitor, and she doesn't like to lose and will do everything she can to win, and that's what we want to see in our back line."

 Coach Lloyd will also put his trust in hardened juniors Rachel Anderson and Jamie Tacka, and freshmen Liliana Caceres and Lauren Fisher, to help solidify the defensive wall for the Sea Gulls.

"We retained Rachel, who's done well for us, and Fisher who has also had a very good preseason," Lloyd said.

This year Coach Lloyd expressed great confidence at the goalkeeper position as he returns last year's dynamic duo that included senior Alesha Seifert (First-team All-CAC in 2015) and junior Hope Knussman.

"We consider ourselves very lucky as a coaching staff, we have two great goalkeepers and we could win any game with either one of them," Lloyd said.

Seifert returns after seeing quality time between the posts last season. Seifert allowed only four goals, notched 27 saves and established an impressive .879 save percentage in eight games.

"Alicia is a true competitor and easily one of the best keepers at the division III level," Lloyd said. "She's an amazing athlete with a great skill set who's always trying to push herself to the next level."
Knussman also returns after an impressive 2015 season where she established a 6-2 record with 29 saves, an .807 save percentage and notching four shut outs in eight games.
"Hope's a consummate leader, she's constantly communicating with the team on where they should be and what they should be doing," Lloyd said.

The Sea Gulls begin their 2016 campaign at home on Friday, September 2 against Meredith University at 2:30 p.m., in the first leg of the Salisbury University Classic. Salisbury will turn around and play Methodist University on Saturday at 4 p.m., in the final game of the tournament to cap off opening weekend.
"These are two games where we can discover a lot about ourselves before Kenyon and Denison," Lloyd said.
The following weekend, the Gulls head to Ohio to take on Kenyon College and top-tier Denison University, both out of the North Coast Athletic Conference.
"Denison is always well prepared and organized, the game will let us know where we are on a national standard." Lloyd said.
Salisbury then heads across the bay to take on rivals Catholic University of America and Stevenson University before opening its conference schedule at home against Southern Virginia University, on September 24 at 2 p.m.
"I'm really excited to see our offense play together, they're explosive, creative, and they work really well off each other," Lloyd said. "When they are on, they are going to be difficult to stop."

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