No.2 ODAC preseason ranking for VWC women
FOREST, Va. -- Twenty letterwinners and six starters back from last season's 13-5-4 finish give Virginia Wesleyan College's women's soccer team a good starting place for the 2011 season.
Old Dominion Athletic Conference coaches think it's a good place too as they have tagged the Marlins No. 2 in the league's annual preseason poll. VWC pulled in three first-place votes en route to recording 110 points, just six shy of No. 1 Lynchburg College, the defending champion.
The Marlins return a balanced, veteran group that includes the top seven scorers and top three shot stoppers from last season. Those goalies, senior Bethany Bayles (Manassas, Va./Osbourn Park), junior Rachel Calkins (Pauma Valley, Calif./Temecula Great Oak), and sophomore Erica Keil (Wayne, N.J./DePaul Catholic), will once again anchor what has become a smothering defensive game that has been key to VWC's success under 11th-year head coach Jeff Bowers.
Bowers' teams have recorded an incredible 113 shutouts in the last eight seasons, including 74 in the last 111 games, sparked by heady goalie play. All three returnees posted a goals against average of 0.68, or better, last year, and combined for an .813 saves percentage as the Marlins posted 10 shutouts.
While the Marlins surrendered only 15 goals last season, tying the fifth stingiest mark in program history, they scored 57, tying the 10th highest mark in program history. Offense mirrors the defense this year as far as experience goes, as last year's top six leading scorers return.
Fiery junior Christina Fernandes (Tinton Falls, N.J./Tinton Falls), who led the team with eight goals and seven assists, is back on the field along with senior Kristyn Anselmo (Kinnelon, N.J./Kinnelon), junior Jessica Edelman (Voorhees, N.J./Eastern Regional), and sophomore Danielle Stephens (Round Hill, Va./Purcellville Loudoun Valley), who all put in seven goals last season. Fernandes and Edelman were both first team All-ODAC honorees in 2010 and Stephens earned honorable mention honors.
They'll get help from seniors Hanna Winkel (Lebanon, Mo./Lebanon) and Katie Gradel (East Northport, N.Y./Northport), who tallied six goals each last season. Seniors Jackie Togno (Stroudsburg, Pa./Moravian Academy) and Kim McKinney (Bel Air, Md./C. Milton Wright) will add to the attack, as will a large, talented group of newcomers.
The group includes Allison Jaimes (Placerville, Calif./Shingle Springs Ponderosa) and Breanne Ingargiola (Bayport, N.Y./Bayport-Blue Point), transfers from Division II programs at California State University at Monterey Bay and Pennsylvania's East Stroudsburg University, respectively. Jaimes was a three-time All-Sierra Valley Conference honoree and team offensive player of the year, and Igargiola was a two-time league player of the year and two-time All-New York honoree.
The new Marlins are expected to blend quickly into the scheme of things as VWC attempts to record its 13th consecutive winning season. The Marlins have experienced winning seasons every year with Bowers at the helm. He has helped VWC produce a 166-45-27 record since 2000, including a stunning 99-12-10 record against ODAC foes. VWC is 85-6-7 in the league in the last nine years.
Virginia Wesleyan, which enters the new season with 295 program victories, opens its 2011 season hosting the Orthopaedic Associates of Virginia Classic, beginning on Saturday, Sept. 3, at 3 p.m. The Marlins will host the Bulldogs of Pennsylvania's DeSales University. The tournament continues Sunday, Sept. 4, when VWC hosts the Blazers of the College of St. Benedict, which played third last year in the tough Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
2011 ODAC WOMEN'S SOCCER PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Lynchburg (8)||116 pts.|
|2. Virginia Wesleyan (3)||110 pts.|
|3. Washington and Lee (1)||101 pts.|
|4. Roanoke||92 pts.|
|5. Bridgewater||85 pts.|
|6. Randolph-Macon||69 pts.|
|7. Eastern Mennonite||58 pts.|
|8. Guilford||56 pts.|
|9. Emory & Henry||40 pts.|
|10. Hollins||26 pts.|
|11. Randolph||23 pts.|
|12. Sweet Briar||