FAIRFIELD, Conn. - The Sacred Heart University women's soccer 2011 season gets underway at Albany tomorrow afternoon at 3:00 pm. The Pioneers return home on Sunday, weather permitting, against Illinois State at 12:00 pm on Campus Field.
About the Pioneers... Sacred Heart, predicted 6th out of 11 in the Northeast Conference preseason poll, returns to the pitch after an 8-6-5 campaign a year ago. In league play, the Pioneers posted a 4-3-3 record and are seeking their first postseason appearance since 2007. For the second straight season, SHU's postseason chances remained alive going into the final weekend of the season, but ultimately came up short. The greatest challenge the team will face in 2011 will be replacing Meghan Reichelt, a four-year starter in net for the Pioneers. Junior Sydney Judkins (South Park, Pa.) has been waiting in the wings, working as Reichelt's apprentice. In last season's finale, she made her season debut in a five-save shutout draw at Central Connecticut. Offensively, Sacred Heart returns most of their firepower, including senior captain Samantha Kee (Haskell, N.J.). Kee tied for the team lead in goals with sophomore Lucy Gildein (Topsfield, Mass.) by finding the back of the net five times, including two game-winners. Fellow senior Amanda Stiles (Miller Place, N.Y.) held the team lead in points with 13, on four goals and a team-best five assists.
2011 Team Captains... Kee will captain the 2011 Pioneer squad along with senior defender Heather Quevillion (Dayville, Conn.), junior midfielders Elizabeth Stewart (Seaford, N.Y.) and Jen Mulvey (Manalapan, N.Y.). Mulvey and Quevillion, who contributes on both the backline and in the mid, each netted three goals last season.
Scouting the Great Danes... Albany completed the 2010 season 10-8-2 overall and 4-2-2 in the America East, including an 8-3 record at home. The Great Dane attack averaged just 0.95 goals per game last season, but returns top scorer junior Shayla Bergeron, who tallied nine scores a year ago. Junior forward Chelsea DeVerna posted two goals and two assits, while her twin sister Maggie DeVerna netted one score and a team-leading three assists. Albany is also in a season of transition at the netminder position. Sophomore goalkeeper Dani Britt appeared in six games, starting four, and went 1-3 with 23 saves and eight goals against.
Scouting the Red Birds... Illinois State enters the weekend 1-1, with a season-opening loss to Southeast Missouri State and a 5-2 victory over Bowling Green. The Red Birds kick off the weekend with a 6:00 pm contest at Boston University on Friday night. Through the season's first weekend, freshman forward Rachel Tejada has recorded a pair of goals and a pair assists and sophomore forward Kyla Cross has chipped in two goals of her own, off the bench. Senior Jessica Carlson led ISU with 19 points, on seven goals and five assists, up top last season. Junior goalie Mara Kremenovic played every minute in net last season, but has been behind red-shirt freshman Aryn Newsom on the depth chart through the first two games. Newsom has stopped five shots and given up five goals to go with a loss, while Kremenovic earned a win in a one-save relief effort.
vs. Albany... The Pioneers and Great Danes will meet on the field for the first time since 2008 and the fifth overall in each of the programs' Division I tenure. Sacred Heart is a perfect 4-0 against Albany, winning each game on the road, including a 1-0 decision the last time they met. SHU outshot the Great Danes 22-7 in that contest and got a goal from Leigh Dogmanits in the 58th minutes, while Reichelt provided seven saves to earn the shutout.
vs. Illinois State... Sunday's match-up will serve as the first game between the Pioneers and Red Birds and also mark the first time in program history that SHU has played a team from the Missouri Valley Conference.
Up Next... Sacred Heart remains at home as it hosts Maine at Campus Field next Friday, September 2 at 7:00 pm. The Pioneers return to the road for a game at Stony Brook on Sunday, September 4 at 2:00 pm.