The Eastern Michigan University Women’s soccer team finished its last season 9-7-5 overall and 6-2-3 in the Mid-American Conference after being eliminated from the MAC tournament in a shootout (4-2) in the quarterfinals by Western Michigan.
With the loss came an abrupt end to the season, and the Eagles not only lost hopes for a championship
but also lost players at key positions.
The Eagles said farewell to four seniors, including their leading scorer Paige Sheridan and star goaltender Monique Budani, who finished her career with school records for saves in a single-season (146) and career (346).
The loss of those two players leaves a big hole to fill on offense and defense, but the Eagles’ main concern has to be who will take over for Budani in front of the net.
“There will be a lot of competition for spots,” coach Scott Hall said. “I think it would be nice for us to be able to go a little deeper within our bench, which I don’t think we had a lot of last year. It’s hard to be playing 90 minutes every game.”
So far, Anna Vess is the only goalkeeper in this year’s recruiting class, which saw nine new players sign with the Eagles.
She will compete with freshman Rachel Rye, who has yet to play a game, for time in front of the net.
But at the start of the 2011 regular season against Pittsburgh August 19, the Eagles will have four
more experienced seniors to lead the way as they bring nine recruits to the program.
“Our seniors next year have been through quite a bit,” Hall said.
“They’ve played a lot of minutes over the last few years and I think they are going to really drive this team for next year. We are going to really depend on them and their experience, especially with nine freshmen coming in.”
The seniors to lead the way next year are midfielder Amanda Marsh, forward Katie Marsh, defender Julie Kaim and forward Chelsea Detrick.
For this group of seniors to lead the team farther in to the MAC tournament than last year’s group, Hall said the Eagles are going to have to pick it up on the offensive end.
“We felt like we could be a little more organized on the attack,” he said. “We always want to work on our speed of play and just being able to play quicker and individually being more comfortable on the ball.”
As for filling in for Sheridan on offense, freshman forward Stephanie Clarke looks to be the player.
She was second in points last season with 14 and is an emerging offensive threat for the Eagles.
Clarke said she has been practicing hard to get ready for next season.
“I’m personally trying to find where I fit into that system and what role I play,” Clarke said.
“I’m more of an offensive player, so just working on my confidence and making sure I finish when I have my opportunities.”
Kaim is heading in to her second year as captain and said she expects the team to be better in 2011.
“Last year we lost a heartbreaker in penalty kicks in the quarterfinals,” Kaim said.
“I really think that with our returning core players and the players coming in that we have a good opportunity to fight for and potentially win a MAC championship.”
Recruits joining the Eagles expected to help the offense include Angela Vultaggio and Bianca Rossi.
“Angela brings major speed and comfort on the ball to our forward line,” Hall told EMUEagles.com. “We expect her to come in and contribute by running at defenses and scoring big goals.”
Rossi is from Mississauga, Ontario, and is the only recruit not a native of Michigan. She is expected to be an additional scoring threat on the frontline.