Women's Soccer 2007 Season Preview
Aug. 23, 2007
Expectations are high for the 2007 Air Force women's soccer team. After struggling through the toughest schedule ever in 2006, the experience gained last year will be invaluable to the players returning this year.
Bolstered by a strong showing this spring, head coach Marty Buckley is quite optimistic that the 2007 season will be a successful one. "We had a great spring season and we hope that success will build into the fall," Buckley said.
With the return of seven starters and 17 letterwinners, Buckley has high hopes for a breakout season.
"We had a lot of freshmen on the team last year that didn't see much time on the field last fall, but they earned a lot of playing time during the spring and we expect them to be significantly improved from a season ago."
The defense, which held opponents to just 1.34 goals per game a season ago, returns most of the starters including goalkeeper Erin Wallace, who recorded five shutouts in 2006.
With a strong defense the Falcons will need their offense, which sputtered at times last year, to be significantly improved in order to compete with another formidable schedule.
"Our players do a good job of getting into scoring situations," Buckley commented. "We just need to do a better job of finishing. If we can do that, we are going to be very successful this year."
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2006 squad, starting with the returners.
Junior Corbin Sanford, the team's Most Valuable Player last year and Katherine Slogic, who is finally at full-strength after having surgeries the past two years, will be looked upon to score goals for Air Force.
"We expect Kat to be ready to go this Fall after injury-plagued seasons the past two years," Buckley said. "We look for big things from her in addition to our returning MVP Corbin."
Buckley see's sophomore Susan Finch stepping into an increased role in the Falcon offense after seeing limited time as a freshman.
"Susan didn't play much last Fall but showed tremendous improvement from last year and we look for her to be a significant contributor this year," Buckley said.
Senior Sean Henry will also see action at the forward spot. Henry is a seasoned veteran, having played in 42 career games. "Sean will be an experienced presence up top and we expect her to well for us this year," Buckley said.
Buckley is also high on a pair of freshmen Sarah's, Sarah Horton and Sarah Peterson, to add depth to the forward position "Both Sarah Horton and Ali Neptune can play in the midfield, and Sarah Petersen will be able to come in right away and help with the offense."
"Caitlin, Kelsey and A.C. are young but talented and we think they'll be excellent this year," Buckley said.
In addition juniors Kim Hale and Roni Yadlin will also add to the program.
"Kim and Roni had great springs and Megan is in her fourth year in the program," Buckley said.
Junior Kristen Wolverton, who is returning from a knee injury, can play both midfield and defender and will see time along with Horton. Ali Neptune, a transfer from Loyola Marymount and freshmen Erin Flanigan and Leah Nielsen will also be vying for playing time in the middle.
"Ali will definitely help us in the midfield as will Erin and Leah," Buckley said. "We need our midfielders to be the table-setters for the offense and be reliable defenders on the counter-attacks defensively."
"We expect Rhett, Christin and Rachael to set the tone of the game for us," Buckley said. "They are our team leaders and most experienced players."
In addition to Wolverton helping out in the backfield, the Falcons add four freshmen at defender. Led by high school All-American Shannon Nail, Buckley sees fellow freshmen Jess Brown, Lyndsey Horn and Haley Puffenbarger providing a deep and talented backfield. "We have big expectations for Shannon in addition to Jess, Lyndsey and Haley in the backfield," Buckley commented. "They will eventually form our backfield of the future, but have the talent to come in and contribute immediately."
Wallace is coming off a stellar sophomore campaign where she started 18 games and finished fourth in the conference with 79 saves. Wallace had five shutouts last year, tying the Air Force sophomore record. Sophomore Ashlee Curtis is slated to back up Wallace. Curtis made one start for the Falcons last year, earning a win.
In addition to the two returners, the Falcons welcome three freshmen to the goalkeeping position. Colorado Springs product Tiff Christoffersen, Madison Schottleutner and Elizabeth Smith will also get opportunities early this year to earn some playing time.
"We have a lot of talent at goalkeeper," Buckley said. "Erin has been the proven keeper for us the past two years, but I expect Ashlee and the incoming freshmen to push for playing time."
The Falcons open the 2007 regular season against Fairfield on Friday, Aug. 31 at the Denver Tournament.