1996 Women's Soccer Season Outlook
Togetherness and experience. Combine those intangibles with a skilled and talented group of upperclassmen and you have the beginning of yet another successful season. The Boston College women's soccer team is certainly heading in that direction as it prepares for the 1996 season. As head coach Terez Bonorden Biancardi and her team approach the preseason, they will develop their game plan and continue their tradition of intensity and intelligence on the playing field. That philosophy and determination are what bring the Eagles the regional and national prominence they set to earn each year.
Biancardi is looking forward to her fifth consecutive winning season and has no doubts that this year's group can make that happen. A total of 12 letterwinners return for the 1996 campaign, including seven starters and seven of the top nine point scorers. Led by the senior class, four players who have been starters since their freshmen season, the Eagle offense is as strong as ever.
While never sacrificing a strong defensive unit, BC's strength lies in the quickness and leadership that will be present on the offensive side of the ball. "We need to capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities every chance we get. At the same time, our defense will need to develop in order to be a key part of our success," Biancardi said.
The Eagles' schedule is as demanding as any program of national prominence. Highlighting the 1996 schedule is the season opener with defending national champion and BIG EAST foe Notre Dame on September 1 at BC's Shea Field. In addition to ND, Connecticut, Rutgers, Villanova and Harvard are just a few of the Eagles' opponents that will fight for a trip to the NCAA Tournament in November. The BIG EAST Conference welcomes West Virginia to the women's soccer campaign this season. (Syrcacue and Pittsburgh will become women's soccer BIG EAST teams next season).
The 1996 BIG EAST Conference Championship Tournament will be held November 9 & 10 at Alumni Field on Notre Dame's campus in South Bend, IN. The top four teams based upon strength of schedule, win-loss record and conference play will qualify for the tournament.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of the 1996 Boston College Eagles.
Leading the frontline will be the senior duo of April Parker and Deidre Byrnes. Both players have been starting members of the offensive line since their arrival at the Heights three years ago. Parker, a captain, returns as the team's leading scorer and leader in career points. She led the 1995 Eagles with team highs of nine goals and four assists. Parker earned All-BIG EAST Conference second team honors and is looking forward to being one of the top players in the conference this fall. Byrnes was hampered by a knee injury during the spring of '96, but will be fully recovered by the start of preseason conditioning. She played in all 18 games last season, recording three goals and one assist.
"Parker and Byrnes are such powerful athletes who have a passion for soccer. They love to win. April has emerged as a true leader both on and off the field which is a tremendous asset to the team as well as the coaching staff," Biancardi said.
Also expected to see playing time at the forward spot are sophomores Kate Forgiano and Megan Shaughnessy. Forgiano saw action in nine games last season, while Shaughnessy joined the team as a walk-on and has showed tremendous tenacity. Freshmen who will support the offensive line are Janice Collein, Brandy Manza and Mary Guarino.
"Watching our offense this year is something I look forward to more than ever. These players possess so much experience and they are so aware of each other's presence on the field. If they can finish their offensive attacks, there will be no stopping them," Biancardi commented.
Senior captains Kara Nance and Jennifer Kelley, both three-year starters, will lead the Eagles' midfield in 1996. These two quick, explosive players combined for 18 points and were the endurance leaders on the field. Kelley, who earned 1995 All-BIG EAST second team accolades, was the team's third-leading scorer with four goals and three assists. Nance earned 1995 All-Northeast Region third team honors. She tallied two goals and three assists in 15 games last season.
"These two players are proven leaders as well as talented soccer players. Their skills and speed allow them to play on both ends of the field for the entire game. Since their freshman seasons, Kelley and Nance have developed tremendously and they will be significant keys to our success, " Biancardi said.
Rounding out the list of midfielders are junior Anne Schneider and sophomores Kiera McKeon, Megan Burns and Jill Kislia. Schneider, who joined the team as a walk-on player in 1994, has turned into a two-year letterwinner and key reserve. Last season, she played in all 18 games, making four starts. Schneider recorded four assists as well. McKeon was one of five players last season to start all 18 games (and the only freshman to do so). She finished her first varsity season with three goals. Burns and Kislia saw action last season in a reserve role, but will use that experience this season to contribute even more to the Eagles' season.
Kristine Klagges and Stephanie Glecos are freshmen who come to the Heights as highly recruited players. Look for them to make contributions as the season progresses.
"Talent, desire and determination are a few characteristics that describe these young players. I see them making immediate contributions in all aspects of our program," Biancardi said.
Filling the void left by graduated seniors Melissa Wolf and Kristina Szczepanski is something the Eagles will concentrate on heavily during the preseason. They are not left with a complete void, however. Junior Alex Chamberlain and sophomore Leigh Cofran are certainly capable of handling the defensive duties. Chamberlain is a speedy two-year starter who also likes to demonstrate her offensive skill as well. Last season she notched two goals and two assists. Cofran played in 15 games as a freshman last year and tallied one assist. McKeon will most likely see action in a defensive role as well as in the midfield.
Others who will see considerable time in the backfield are junior Darlene Sliva, and sophomores Christine Safreit and Kelly Cross.
"I was extremely pleased with the effort, pride and dedication these players demonstrated last year. I believe that their experience will be advantageous to our team this fall," Biancardi said.
Valerie Daniel has no reason to believe in the phrase "sophomore slump." The junior enjoyed a fine 1995 campaign in net for the Eagles. She played all but 94 minutes and earned the start in all 18 games, recording five shutouts. Daniel finished with a 1.36 goals against average and capped her season by earning Top Goaltender honors as the Eagles won their second consecutive Harvard Invitational.
Competing for time in the goal will be sophomore Kerin Sikorski. She saw action in four games and shared shutouts with Daniel over Central Connecticut and Providence.
"Valerie improved a great deal last season and was a big asset to our team. We will rely on her continued improvement and development into one of the top goaltenders in the region. Kerin has the potential to challenge Val for the starting goalkeeper position. I believe this competition will push both of them to be better team leaders and, in turn, to be more successful," Biancardi said.