Women’s Soccer Season Preview – Washington College

Women’s Soccer Season Preview – Washington College

Washington College head women’s soccer coach Tom Reilly has instilled a blunt directive for his team this fall.

“Our fans should expect to see a team that is trying to win games and not just out there to hold off our opponents,” he stated. “By that, I mean that we are going to have a mentality where we’ll be actively looking to impose ourselves in each game.”

To accomplish that objective, the group will need involvement throughout the entire roster. “We’ll rely on our returning players because they have been through the wars and know what it’s all about,” Reilly admits. “However, the gap has really narrowed from top to bottom on our team in terms of talent level. We are happy with our depth, and it is the most I have had here. I would expect contributions from everyone at some point during the season.”

Last year’s short spring exhibition season served a great purpose for the group according to Reilly. “Last fall we missed how great being on a team really is. When we got back you could just feel the energy of everyone wanting to be together, practice and play. We acquired some insight as to what our current sophomore class is capable of. They got some valuable game experience, playing in the stadium under the lights against opponents that wanted to beat us. You can’t simulate that in practice.”

Reilly acknowledges that the ability to put the ball in the back of the net held the team back in 2019. “We were very solid defensively but had graduated a great deal of talent up front,” he says. “Our emphasis has been on getting more people up the field. We think that we are better positioned to attack and have more talent and options overall. The 2019 freshmen class had a lot of pressure on them to score goals and that is a tough ask in the Centennial Conference. With two years of experience, they have looked like completely different players and the group is absolutely ready for this challenge.”

The goalkeeper position is a spot that Reilly is extremely excited about. Co-captain Noah Smith (Island Heights, N.J./Central Regional) has blossomed into a premier college goalkeeper and has earned the right to be the starter. The senior entered the program third on the depth chart but has worked tirelessly in the gym and at her craft in between the pipes. “I would expect Noah to be one of the top goalies in the conference,” Reilly claims. “She’s an excellent shot-stopper and her distribution has progressed as well. She also grasps where and when to play the ball out of the back and is good in the air. Noah knows what to expect and that experience will serve her well.”

Sophomore Emily Arnold (Parkton, Md./Hereford) will serve as Smith’s back-up and was limited last spring due to an injury. According to Reilly, Arnold played great in a tight game versus Salisbury last spring and looked like she belonged. He won’t be shy about having to deploy her should the occasion arise.

Smith will be supported by a very capable group of defenders. Center back Rachel Chatfield (Lovettsville, Va./Woodgrove) will direct the backline. The junior boasts the whole package, including athleticism, technique, soccer IQ and a winner’s mentality. “Rachel has the ability to handle her position and cover for her defenders who may get beat on occasion,” Reilly states. “She plays the ball out of the back and will take our free kicks. Rachel’s a great person to build a team around and her importance is evident to everybody.”

Senior Keelie Verbeek (Southborough, Mass./St. Mark’s School) is an intelligent player who loves to get forward from her left outside back position. “Keelie has the green light anytime she thinks she can support the attack,” Reilly conceals. “She’s smart about it and doesn’t really get caught up the field too often. She gives us a tremendous work rate and will run up and down the sideline for 90 minutes if that’s what we ask her to do.”

Elena Hilario (Middletown, Del./Appoquinimink) was recruited as a midfielder but converted to right back last spring and excelled at the slot from the jump. A very energetic player, the junior reads the game well and is extremely useful when she joins the attack because of her experience playing higher up the field. Senior Bess Mascone (Middletown, N.J./Middletown North) has primarily been used in the midfield the past couple of seasons but will mostly be utilized in the back to provide the unit with more experience in 2021. Mascone was a starting center back in 2018. Sophomore Grace Kelley (Schwenksville, Pa./Upper Dublin) came to Chestertown as an outside midfielder but is now primarily an outside left-back, a spot she has really taken to. Kelley reads the game well and knows when to get forward and when to honor the defensive side of the pitch. Classmates Amity Harrington (Island Heights, N.J./Point Pleasant Beach) and Rory Miller (Henrico, Va./Godwin) are two other returners who are expected to contribute. Harrington is a center back and played extremely well during the spring. A solid dependable player, she brings good athleticism and size. Miller is an outside back that could move to the center at some point because of her athleticism and defensive acumen. According to Reilly, two-sport specialist Ellie Morrall (Contoocook, N.H./Hopkinton) has improved dramatically for someone that has been away from the team since 2019. Last year, she played a complete season for Washington’s women’s lacrosse team. The junior handles the ball well and is a strong athletic player that will help the team somewhere along the backline. Freshman Andrea Norman (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex Regional) missed the beginning of preseason due to an illness but is now healthy and will play an outside back position. 

Lauren Maynor (Ellicott City, Md./Howard) is expected to serve as the creative spark from her attacking midfield position. The junior has played wide in the past but will transition over to the inside this year. Maynor has a great eye for the pass and the technical ability to find the gaps between the defense. She can also really hit the ball and can score goals. The extremely versatile Audrey Flanagan (Huntingtown, Md./Huntingtown) is expected to be an impactful performer wherever she lines up on the turf. “Audrey can play deep and be a defensive shield for the back four as a holding midfielder and can also set play from there,” Reilly describes. “She can play higher up the field as she has a great nose for the goal and can strike the ball with either foot from distance. Audrey is lively and energetic and wants to be involved all over the field.”

Junior Paige O’Connell (Fairfield, Conn./Fairfield-Ludlowe) can play a wide midfield or forward spotHer goal scoring ability has improved tremendously, has good speed and a good eye for a cross. Senior Peri Bertolami (Glenmoore, Pa./Owen J. Roberts) has come in fit and healthy after an injury-plagued career and will compete for a defensive midfield role. Bertolami, a highly intelligent player who reads the game well, is good at picking out the right passes and covering defensively.

Reilly is excited about a group of first-year students who will all compete for playing time in the midfield. Emily Morris (Warren, N.J./Watchung Hills Regional) is a super versatile player who is good on the ball, smart and athletic. She plays the game with a great spirit and wants to be involved. Morris will be used in the midfield but can play anywhere on the field. Kayla Streett (Bel Air, Md./Fallston) is a terrific facilitator and has a well-rounded skillset. She has played defensive midfield and outside back previously over her prep and club career. Karolina Bocul (Willow Grove, Pa./Upper Dublin) has been seeing time in the midfield and brings a good soccer background. Cassidy Fitzpatrick (Essex, Md./Our Lady of Mount Carmel) has been a pleasant surprise during the pre-season as she is holding her own with her all out play as a right back. Not afraid of anyone, Fitzpatrick tackles like someone twice her size. 

There is no pressure on any particular Shorewoman to lead the program in scoring as Reilly is hoping to get contributions from several players up front. A co-captain, the lightning-fast Erin O’Reilly (Northborough, Mass./Algonquin Regional) has worked extremely hard on her finishing skills and will be the focal point on the attack. “She’s going to be a handful for other teams to deal with,” Reilly predicts. “Erin is hardworking and strong. If there’s space in behind the defense, she’ll find it and get to the ball first.”

Junior Gillian Slavick (Toms River, N.J./Toms River North) should see most of her time as the team’s center forward. Slavick has great vision, good technique, and a good idea of the game. “It’s our hope that we can get the ball to Gillian in goal scoring positions,” says Reilly. “We expect her to score some goals for us because she’s got the skill to get the ball over the line in a variety of ways. She’s also really good at connecting plays so she can be used as an attacking midfielder as well.”

Katie King (Ambler, Pa./Upper-Dublin) is a ball of energy and a one-woman pressing machine. The junior is also a threat to get behind the defense. King is also more than willing to go press the ball to win it back and create turnovers. Sophomore Ellen Daly (Locust, N.J./Rumson-Fair Haven Regional) has a good nose for the goal and can put the ball on target with either foot. An intelligent player who is big and strong, Daly can play wide to take advantage of her technical skills or can also work in the center. Freshman Reagan Longridge (Lititz, Pa./Warwick) enjoyed a highly touted club soccer career. Athletic, smart, and skillful, Reilly thinks she can make an impact right away and was extremely excited to land her. 

The Centennial Conference schedule has changed slightly but the strength of the league has not. “Every game will be a battle,” Reilly accepts. “I think we’ve scheduled some particularly good teams out of conference too. We expect to have to play well to get results in every game. We think we have the depth to play twice a week and play well against these teams.”

“I believe that our fans are going to see a total commitment to the cause this season,” he concludes. “Our entire team is into it from the student-athletes to the coaches. We are going to work our butts off and try to get up the field and attack with numbers. We are going to try and win the ball back with pressure defense and hope to win it high up the field as well. We’re all extremely excited to begin the season.”

Inside the Schedule
Total Games: 17 (7 Home, 10 Away)
Season/Home Opener: 9/1 vs. Stevenson
Centennial Home Opener: 9/18 vs. Franklin & Marshall
Centennial Away Opener: 9/25 vs. Muhlenberg
Centennial Home Opponents: Franklin & Marshall (9/18), Haverford (9/22), Swarthmore (10/6), Bryn Mawr (10/23), McDaniel (10/27)
Centennial Road Opponents: Muhlenberg (9/25), Ursinus (10/2), Johns Hopkins (10/9), Gettysburg (10/16), Dickinson (10/30)
Non-Conference Home Opponents: Stevenson (9/1), Hood (9/6)
Non-Conference Road Opponents: Washington Adventist (9/8), Rutgers-Camden (9/11), Stockton (9/12), Salisbury (9/15), Marymount (Va.) (10/20) 
2019 NCAA Tournament Teams: Haverford, Gettysburg, Swarthmore






Credit: Source link