Propelled by a stalwart defense that opened the season with seven straight shutouts and ended it without giving up more than three goals in a game, the Owls went 10-5-3 last fall. They finished fourth in the Northeast-10 conference but lost in the first round of the NE-10 tournament to Stonehill.
“We had a great season last year,” sophomore midfielder Stephanie Santos said. “But it ended a lot sooner than we wanted it to.”
After starting the season 10-1-1, the Owls went 0-4-2 in their final six games; three of which came against teams ranked in the top 20 in the region.
Avoiding this kind of late-season slide will be pivotal for the Owls, who must also replace one of their most dependable players: 2011 NE-10 goalkeeper of the year Jacquelyn Fede.
Fede led the team last season with 64 saves, and played 1,646 minutes in front of the net. To put this into context, the only other goalkeeper to receive any playing time played just two.
“Jackie Fede was an outstanding student-athlete, she had a 4.0 GPA, she was an academic All-American and was really a tremendous goal keeper,” head coach Adam Cohen said.
According to Cohen, the position of starting goalkeeper this season is still up for grabs. Suzane Heston, Katelyn Fortier and freshman Elizabeth Nickerson will all compete for the job.
Though she is no longer eligible to step on the field, Fede will still be with the team this season as the goalkeeping coach.
“She’s going to be able to impart some of that knowledge and wisdom and experience with the current players,” said Cohen.
Blossoming stars Suzane Pires and Santos should help pick up the slack. Pires, a Sao Paulo, Brazil native, led the team last year with six goals and fifteen total points.
“Suzane is really a very technically gifted player and she’s extremely creative but also very effective,” Cohen said.
Santos, on the other hand, had three goals as a freshman midfielder. She looks to come back and have an even better sophomore campaign.
“I feel like I’m starting to get more confident,” she said. “I know what it is to play at the college level and I feel like I know what the expectations are now. I’m closer with my teammates, I know how they play and how I compliment them. So, I feel like this year is going to be a really successful year for me.”
That success should start on the defensive end, where sophomore Raven Palmerie thinks that they’ll be strong again, especially in the back four. The statistics show this as well. Southern attempted 70 more shots than their opponents last season, and 35 more on goal.
“We had several shutouts last year and honestly I think that if we do the same thing this year no matter who’s in goal, I think defense is going to be probably the best part of our squad,” she said.
The season opens August 31st against Philadelphia University, who went 16-3-2 last season. It should be a good early test for the Owls.
“Playing against a tough team is going to be a challenge for anybody,” Palmerie said. “But I think those are the games where our team steps up the best. I think that we take any challenge and we turn it into a positive. We know the tools in order to win games. So as long as we take those tools and apply them to the game then I think we can beat any team that comes in our way.”
GAME 1 @ MERCY
Southern Women’s Soccer had their first victory of the season, winning 1-0 in their opener at Philadelphia University. Sophomore midfielder Bryana Poulin scored the game’s only goal in Friday’s contest at Ravenhill Field.
Southern (1-0-0) will next play in their home opener against Mercy College at Jess Dow Field on September 4th at 4 p.m.
The Owls attempted 15 shots, six of which were on goal. Philadelphia tallied 9 shots, with five on goal. It was a tale of two halves, with Philadelphia outshooting the Owls 12-3 in the first half. The Owls came on late, however, with 12 of their 15 shots coming in the second half, including Poulin’s goal.
This was also the first start for goalkeeper Elizabeth Nickerson, who replaces last year’s Northeast-10 goalkeeper of the year Jacquelyn Fede.
Nickerson, a freshman, had five saves in her goalkeeping debut.