|Niners open camp Thursday in search of impact|
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Charlotte 49ers women’s soccer program will begin its 2013 preseason camp Thursday morning with excitement and anticipation of returning to Conference USA this fall. The Niners, led by fifth-year head coach John Cullen, begin their 20th season on the field seeking to make an impact in their first season back in the conference.
“Every year, you go into a new season excited about the potential of what’s ahead of you,” Cullen said. “It features a new identity of players with new leaders and seniors. It’s always a season that’s going to unfold as we go along and with different story lines. You always want to approach each season with optimism and excitement, and the key is to see what the team will look like each year. As a soccer coach, this is our favorite time of year. You’re 0-0 and just about to start. Tactics, training and conditioning is about to be done and everybody is geared up ready to go.”
Eighteen letterwinners, including eight starters, make their return in green and white this fall. A quartet of seniors – Alex Kubrick, Brooke Mulloy, Dakota Olson and SarahAnn Waugh – lead the charge as the 49ers will look to improve on last year’s 10-8-2 (4-4-1 A-10) record.
Kubrick enters her final season in net after collecting All-Atlantic 10 Academic honors in 2012. She missed a portion of the campaign due to injury but still managed to start all 12 games in which she competed, posting a 0.76 goals-against average with three shutouts and 66 saves.
Mulloy was picked as the team MVP last fall after being one of three players to start all 20 matches. She placed two of her three shots on goal and was a member of the defensive unit that registered a 1.05 season GAA, including five clean sheets.
Olson started a career-best 13 times as a junior, including 10 in-a-row. Her only goal of her career came last September but it was a big one, forcing a 1-1 tie against Clemson at home. It was one of her 16 shots during the campaign, more than tripling her effort from her first two collegiate seasons combined.
Waugh was also a major factor for the strong defensive unit. She helped shut down some of the opposition’s top offensive players as a tri-captain. She was named to the Capital One Academic All-District III First Team and the All-Atlantic 10 Academic Team off the field.
Seven players who scored last season return in 2013, led by All-Atlantic 10 Second Team choice Amanda Jones. Jones, a junior who was picked as a preseason Player to Watch by Conference USA Tuesday, is the team’s top returning scorer with seven goals and five assists for 19 points. She opened league play last fall with both team tallies in the 2-1 overtime triumph over VCU.
Multiple-goal scorers Alex Meyers, Jennifer Lee, Monica Trickett and Sara Trexler also are back this fall. Meyers and Trexler shared a third-place tie on the team with two game-winning goals despite garnering a combined six starts between them.
Other returners who saw extensive action in 2012 include Maddie Kiebel, Jessica Ryan, Taylor Dulaney and Dana Robertson. Annika McHenry provides a solid alternate option in between the pipes, having earned an Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Week honor during her initial collegiate season last fall.
Loren Reilley, Rebecca Forcellini, Caitlin Donovan and Tori Fubara step onto the field as sophomores, looking to make a greater impact this fall. They will be joined by newcomers Rebecca Beatty, Anna Dedmon, Perri Bonner, Kaitlin Walker, Shelby Hicks and Loren’s sister, Ari Reilley.
Nikki Anderson and Alex Weaver were both redshirted in 2012 and Cullen sees both of them having a chance to earn playing time this season.
Charlotte will have just eight full days of training before heading to Asheville, N.C., for the lone exhibition match Aug. 17 at UNC Asheville. The 49ers will then return to town in prep for the first day of classes, Aug. 19, and a set of three home games in the season’s first five days.
The year begins Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. against Liberty at Transamerica Field. The Niners then play host to UNC Wilmington (Aug. 25) and Gardner-Webb (Aug. 27) to conclude the homestand.
Ticket information for all home games can be found at Charlotte49ers.com or by calling (704) 687-4949.