W. Soccer kicks off 2011 at Providence

W. Soccer kicks off 2011 at Providence

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – The Bryant University women's soccer team will look to open the 2011 season with a non-conference tilt against Providence on Sunday, Aug. 21 at Glay Field.  Game time is set for 1 p.m.

Recently picked to finish seventh in the Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches Poll, Bryant enters the season looking to make further strides as a program in its last year of Division I reclassification before becoming postseason eligible next fall.  The Bulldogs ended last season with a 5-13-2 record, including a 3-6-1 mark against NEC foes.

The Bulldogs will be looking to avenge a defeat against Providence during the 2010 campaign, when the Black and Gold hosted a non-conference matchup in early September at Sutton Field.

In last year's game, the Bulldogs displayed a valiant effort against the visiting Friars despite being outshot 14-6 before dropping a 2-0 decision.  Providence found the back of the net with just under two minutes remaining in the first half on a close goal by Amanda Webster that barely made it into the net.  The Friars tacked on an insurance tally midway through the second half to secure the victory.

Scouting The Friars

Providence returns a team that went 9-7-2 in 2010, and will look to fill the holes left by nine roster departures. 

Pacing the Friars in 2011 will be junior classmates Jenna Roncarati (Cumberland, R.I.) and Amanda Webster (Saugus, Mass.), who were both named to the 2010 All-BIG EAST Third Team.  Webster's seven goals led the squad last year, while Roncarati chipped in three strikes of her own as a defender, and was the only player on the team to play every minute of every game.  Midfielder Laura DiClemente (Blue Pell, Pa.) will look to build on a seven-point campaign in 2010, as well.

Providence will boast what should be a strong back line with Roncarti leading the way.  The junior was recently named to the Women's Premier Soccer League First Team as a member of the Boston Aztec U-23 Team over the summer, and will be a pivotal part of a defensive unit that shut out eight opponents last season.  Sophomores Kerry Ann O'Connor (New Rochelle, N.Y) and Alyysa Martino (Plainville, Conn.) will look to aid Roncarti in the back field.

Bryant 2011 - The Offense  

Led by senior Kaitlyn Hinck (Bow, N.H.) and junior Krista Johnstone (Dover, N.H.), the Bulldogs return over 85 percent of its total scoring from last season.  Hinck led the team with two game-winning goals, while Johnstone matched her Granite State teammate's scoring output with three markers of her own.  Even more remarkably, Hinck has led the team in scoring in each of her three seasons as a Bulldog, including four as a sophomore and six as a freshman.  

Joining those two strikers will be junior forwards Jennifer Harding (Lancaster, Mass.) and Katy MacAndrew (Coventry, R.I.), in addition to sophomores Shana Follette (Plymouth, Mass.) and Julie Vajda (Midland Park, N.J.).  Harding (1 goal) started in every contest last year, while MacAndrew saw action in 17 games and dished out one assist on the season.    

In the midfield, rising sophomore Ari Goldberg (East Bridgewater, Mass.) will look to repeat an impressive rookie campaign in which she started all 20 contests and netted two goals on a team-high 27 shots.  Joining her again will be classmate Alex Bengston (Andover, Mass.), who also contributed to the scoring last year with one goal.

Rounding out what should be a formidable pack of experienced midfielders are juniors Regan Marin (Bedford, N.Y.) and Alison Melley (Centerville, Mass.).  The duo combined for three points (1 goal, 1 assist) combined, and had a large impact on the defensive end of the pitch, limiting opposing offenses to 1.40 goals per game.  Senior Natalie Wooster (Monument, Colo.) will provide leadership and valuable minutes, as well.

The Defense

Commanding a more-experienced defensive corps will be senior Stephanie Morse (Warwick, R.I.) and junior Kaitlyn Fare (Millstone Township, N.J.).  While listed as a midfielder, Morse was a pivotal part of the defense last season, and her veteran presence will help aid the continued growth of the team's goaltenders.  Fare provided some offensive sparks from the backfield, punching in a goal and dishing one assist during her sophomore campaign.  

Lineup regulars Elizabeth Guimond (Claremont, N.H.) and Alyssa Kozlowski (Elicott City, Md.) will help anchor the defense again in 2011.  Guimond, a sophomore, appeared in 19 games - starting 13 of them - as a rookie last season, while classmate Kozlowski saw plenty of action as well, making 15 starts.  In addition, juniors Carolyn Giuliano (Weathersfield, Conn.) and Jessica MacAndrew (Coventry, R.I.) and senior Mary Green (Merrick, N.Y.) will return to bolster the defense again. 

The Goaltenders

Returning in net will be junior Kelsi Jacob (Mahwah, N.J.) and sophomore Lauren Viverito (Dayton, N.J.), who both combined to shut out the first four NEC opponents on Bryant's schedule in 2010 – including a 424-minute streak without yielding a goal.

Jacob, who started 12 games in 2010, accumulated over 1,000 minutes and sported a 1.39 GAA and a .750 SV%.  Viverito, meanwhile, completes what should be considered one of the top returning goaltending duos in the conference.  The sophomore started eight games while holding opponents to 1.02 GAA while sporting a save percentage of .840.

The Newcomers

Flint welcomes a group of eight first-year Bulldogs this season - seven freshmen and one transfer.  Emily Barbato (Sutton, Mass.) and Katy Biagi (Natick, Mass.) will provide more depth at forward, with Suzanne Sanders (Westchester, Pa.) looking to crack the lineup at midfield.  Flint will also have plenty of options at defense, with the additions of freshmen backs Michelle Durand (Sudbury, Mass.), Evelyn Hurtwitz (Newton, Mass.), Danielle Scheuer (Acton, Mass.) and Samatha Shaw (Irvine, Calif.).  The one transfer, Whitney Rogers (Tyngsboro, Mass.) joins the squad after transferring from Bentley College, where she started in 33 contests over two seasons.  

After Sunday's contest, the Bulldogs will welcome Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference opponent Rider next Friday, Aug. 26 to Smithfield for the team's home opener at 3:30 p.m.  For more information on Bryant women's soccer, check back at www.bryantbulldogs.com, and follow the Bulldogs on Twitter @BryantAthletics.