“That which does not kill us only
serves to make us stronger.”
The York College women’s soccer team had a spectacular 2006 season but fell short of their stated goal of a Capital Athletic Conference championship after winning the regular season CAC title. The green and white fell in the conference semifinals in penalty kicks, another heartbreaking finish. While the result was hard-to-swallow, it has reinforced a resolve in the 2007 squad that will lead them into the upcoming campaign.
Spartan head coach Vicki Sterner returns all but one starter as she looks to make this the most successful season in the 13-year history of the women’s soccer program.
The one player Sterner must replace, goalkeeper Amanda Lomberg, could be a difficult proposition but the talent that will surround the new goalie should allow them to get acclimated and be successful.
Sterner will rely heavily on a senior class that is loaded with talent and experience. The six seniors, forward Erin Kuhn, midfielder Emily Sullivan, defender Katie Kegerreis, defender Emily Wolf, forward Ashley Gross, and midfielder/defender Jenna Knaper have accumulated a three-year mark of 40-14-6, good for a winning percentage .716, the best three-year mark in school history.
The Spartans also feature deep junior and sophomore classes in addition to a recruiting class that Sterner has called “the best recruiting class I have ever had.”
Kuhn leads the Spartan forwards as she has been nothing short of amazing for the green and white. She finished last season with a school record 17 goals and 43 points. She finished first in the CAC in points, second in goals, and tied for second in game winning goals. She now has a school-record 101 points on 39 goals and 23 assists. Kuhn has notched nine game-winning goals for her career.
“Obviously Erin is a very talented player,”?says Sterner. “She is a hard worker that has gotten better every year. I am looking forward to what she can do as a senior.”
Joining Kuhn at forward is the deepest and most talented group of players in Spartan history. Gross, junior All-CAC?forward Jill Stanley, junior Sam Shultz, sophomore Kayla Denmyer, and junior Casey Catelli are the returners that will join freshmen Ali Jones, Stephanie Mergler, Carly Bock, Erin Mummert, and Brittany Nechay.
Gross finished last season with nine points on four goals and an assist. Stanley was the third-leading scorer for the Spartans as she had 16 points on four goals and eight assists en route to earning the all-conference accolades. Shultz recorded three goals and three assists for nine points while Denmyer chipped in with five points on a goal and three helpers. Catelli missed last season due to injury but is back and ready to contribute to the squad.
“I like this group of returning forwards,” says Sterner. “However, they will be pushed by the freshmen. The preseason will be very intense as these players sort themselves out.”
The freshmen are a gifted group. Jones hails from Archbishop Spalding, the same school that produced Sullivan. She is a player with a nose for the goal. Jones is an excellent finisher with speed that will be expected to contribute to the Spartans immediately. Mergler is a tough, aggressive forward with good moves and good strength. She also possesses an accurate and hard shot. Bock brings good speed and is a decent finisher that could also see time as an outside midfielder. Mummert is a local player from Spring Grove High School. She is quick and also does a good job of finishing her scoring chances. Nechay is a tireless worker that is also a quick, athletic forward.
“I thought one thing we struggled with a bit last year was finishing opportunities,”?states Sterner. “One thing I looked for in recruiting this year was players that had the innate ability to score. I believe this class will really help us become more productive in the box. The combination of the returners and the newcomers should give us a big boost in our scoring.”
Sterner also enjoys depth in the midfield led by Sullivan as the three-year starter continues to be a rock for the green and white. Sullivan continues to have her name all over the Spartan career leaders. She is second all-time in points (97) and assists (27) while she is tied for second in career goals (35). She is a three-time All-CAC selection and was a CAC?Rookie-of-the-Year as a freshman.
Sullivan is joined in the midfield by returners sophomore Lauren Stewart, sophomore Kaitlyn Harney, Knaper, and sophomore Meghan Rowland. The newcomers in the midfield include Ali Jensen, Alexa Bleile, and Mackenzie Kauffman.
Stewart had a strong freshman year as she played in all 20 games, drawing a start in 13 of those contests. Her physical style helped earn her significant playing time as a freshman. Harney finished her first year at YCP with nine points on three goals and three assists. She is an athletic midfielder that can push forward into the attack to help create chances for her teammates. Knaper moved around the field as a junior and will likely settle in the midfield as a senior. Knaper can also fill in defensively if needed. She had four points on a pair of goals last season. Rowland started all 20 games as a freshman as she tallied eight points on two goals and four assists. Her intensity helped convert the ball from the Spartan defensive half to the attacking zone.
Jensen is one of the Spartans’ top recruits. She comes from Parkville High School in Maryland and will be used in the midfield and also possibly at forward. Jensen is a strong, aggressive player that is extremely technically sound. Bleile hails from Dallastown High School and is a very strong technical player that should see significant time as a first-year player. Kauffman is an outstanding athlete with excellent speed that will likely play in the outside midfield.
“I like this group of midfielders,” says Sterner. “They are such a key group of players for us. They help control possession and tempo of the game. We are fortunate to have a technically sound group of players that are very talented and coachable.”
Defensively, Kegerreis headlines the returners in the back. She was selected as a first-team All-CAC defender last year, a well-earned honor. Junior Kali Macgregor was another All-CAC pick as the Spartan defense was the top defensive team in the conference last year. Sophomore Jackie Moser also played a key role in the Spartan defense last year as they allowed just 0.59 goals per game last year. Kegerreis and Macgregor each started all 20 games while Moser played in all 20, starting 19 of those contests. Wolf and junior Caitlin Allen are the other two returners on defense for YCP. Freshmen Megan George, Jen Hartman, Ali Wivell, and Tina Ziegler are the freshmen that will add depth to the Spartan defense.
George is a very sound defender that has a great understanding of the game. Wivell has good speed and a willingness to defend the opponents’ best players while Ziegler is a tireless worker that provides York with very good depth in the back.
“One of the reasons that I expect our new goalkeeper to be successful is because the defenders in front of her are so strong,” states Sterner. “Katie, Kali, and Jackie provide us with three All-CAC caliber defenders that all understand how to play great individual and team defense. The newcomers will provide us with depth that will be very good to have during the course of a long season.”
The goalkeeping job will be up for grabs among three players. Junior Meagan Cahill is the lone returner in the mix. She played in one game for 20 minutes last year as Lomberg played a majority of minutes in net for the green and white in 2006. Joining Cahill are junior transfer Andrea Reynolds and Megan Logan. All three players are talented but unproven.
“I want all three of the keepers to work hard during the preseason and earn their playing time,” says Sterner. “I have an open mind and whoever performs the best will earn the job. There is no question that this position is an area of uncertainty for us but that doesn’t mean it can’t become an area of strength as the season moves along. The quality of the rest of the team will help elevate the play of the keepers.”
Sterner knows that the Spartans are in position for an outstanding 2007 campaign.
“We have an opportunity this year,” states the only coach in the history of the York College women’s soccer program. “It is an opportunity to take the next step, win the conference championship, and earn a bid to the NCAA Tournament. The talent is here. The determination is here and I am really looking forward to taking the journey with this team.”
The Spartans play a traditionally tough schedule in the CAC while they have beefed up the non-conference slate with games against Virginia Wesleyan, Gettysburg, Messiah, Elizabethtown, and Eastern.
York opens the season at Bridgewater (Va.) on September 1 and 2.