The Lions women’s soccer team will have to make do this fall without 13 graduated seniors who were instrumental in leading last year’s 18-win team to the sectional round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.
“It’s a huge loss for us,” head coach Joe Russo said. “Anytime you lose that amount of players, it makes it difficult for the team. But the core group we have coming back is a great group and I’m excited about the incoming class. Hopefully we can pick up right where we left off.”
The most significant returnee is senior forward Brittny Boyd, who garnered Third Team All-American honors as a junior for leading the Lions with 14 goals scored and 16 assists on the year for a total of 34 points. The three-time all-conference selection also netted four game-winning goals last year, good enough for third in the NJAC.
“(Having Boyd return) is important twofold for us with her athleticism on the field and her leadership off the field,” Russo said.
Russo hopes to have strong leadership this year, with Boyd joining junior Bernadette Coyle and seniors Alissa Kacar and Christine Mullin as team captains. Mullin and Coyle combined for five goals as defenders last year.
Kacar, who may be the team’s brightest star behind Boyd, will handle the majority of the goal keeping again for the Lions. Last year, she recorded an 18-2-2 record with nine shutouts and 39 saves between the posts.
Sophomore forward Dana DiBruno will join Boyd up front after having “a promising freshman season,” according to Russo. Sophomore midfielder Kristen Cubicciotti also returns.
“It’s early,” Russo said last week. “But the first three days (of training) have gone exceptionally well. It’s a really young group and it takes awhile to get acclimated to our system and style of play and the collegiate level.”
Without specifying which of those young players, Russo made clear his high hopes for the incoming freshman class.
“Depending on how quickly the young kids get acclimated, by the end of October, we could be very exciting,” he said. “Time will tell.”
Time will be a limited commodity for the Lions though, as they will kick off their season at the Jako Blue Jay Classic at Elizabethtown College on Sept. 3 with less than two weeks of practice under their belts.