By Alex Reich
While most students were enjoying their last moments of summer before classes start at the College, the women’s soccer team has been preparing for its upcoming season.
The Lions finished their previous season with a 21-1-1 record, won the New Jersey Athletic Conference Championship and advanced to the Final Four of the NCAA tournament.
Hoping to preserve their title as NJAC champions, the team will need its returning players to step into important roles as they try to replace seven starters who graduated last spring.
While the Lions have a young roster, they have accumulated big game experience.
Junior defender Jen McGrogan, junior defender Ally DeRiggi, junior goalkeeper Nicole DiPasquale, sophomore midfielder Kelly Caolan and junior midfielder Taylor Nolan are key returning players who started in all 23 games last season.
Nolan had a terrific breakout season last fall, as she scored eight goals and tied for second to most goals scored on the team.
DiPasquale received the United Soccer Coaches Association All-American honors this year. She holds the seventh longest shutout streak in NCAA Division III history, going 1,099:54 minutes without allowing anyone to score.
“I’m excited about it — it’s a different year and a new challenge as no two seasons are alike,” said Head Coach Joe Russo.
“We have some big shoes to fill but hopefully the returning players and the new kids can fill the gaps for us.”
Coach Russo achieved his 500th career victory last year. This achievement has only been done by four other women’s soccer coaches in NCAA history.
On Friday, Aug. 31, the Lions kick off their season with a road trip to Media, Pennsylvania to face Pennsylvania State-University-Brandywine.
The team will then open up the Rowan Soccer Classic on Sunday, Sept. 2 in Glassboro against Bridgewater College.