Friday, August 19, 2011

Previewing 49ers women's soccer

The 49ers women’s soccer team opens its season tonight (Friday) in Jacksonville, Fla., against North Florida. Charlotte plays again Sunday against Jacksonville, then opens at home next Friday against Florida Gulf Coast.

2010 was bittersweet for the 49ers, who ended a step short of the NCAA tournament with a 4-3 loss in double overtime to Dayton in the final of the Atlantic 10 tournament.

And with six starters back, the 49ers are again picked to finish behind the Flyers in the conference. Charlotte will get its chances – all on the Flyers’ field. The final game of Charlotte’s regular season is at Dayton, and the league tournament is the following week at Dayton, too.

Returning is senior Macky Wingo, whose 12 goals and four assists led Charlotte (16-5) in scoring, despite the presence of Whitney Weinraub, the program’s all-time leading scorer who has since graduated.

The loss of Weinraub, as well as standouts such as Megan Minnix and Sam Huecker (now an assistant coach at Lenoir-Rhyne), mean young players will need to contribute quickly. Nineteen players on the roster are either freshmen or sophomores.

“We can’t use that as an excuse that we might not know each other as well as we will later in the season,” said coach John Cullen, a former 49ers men’s player who has a two-year record of 32-8-2 at Charlotte.

Although Charlotte’s four defenders from 2010 have graduated, the 49ers have senior Katie Davies back to anchor the defense. Davies missed last season when she injured her ankle while doing a forward flip before throwing the ball in during an exhibition.

“That’s a great weapon to have, almost like a good cross,” said Cullen. “I’m sure she’d love to do it again, but having seen what it did to her, we wouldn’t want to put her in risk’s way. It is one of her trademarks, though.”

Davies will be the leader of the defense, but there’s also experience in the goal, where sophomore Alex Kubrick and senior Natalie LaVigne split time last season.

And scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem, with Wingo, senior Obi Bernard (four goals, six assists last season), senior Jonna Handra (three goals, five assists) also back.

Newcomers to watch are freshmen Sara Trexler (midfielder/forward), Amanda Jones (midfielder/forward) and Darby Broeker (defender/forward).


Anonymous said...

John Cullen is a great leader.

Niner Traditions said...

Like the Niner Traditions page on FB.