JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (August 24, 2006) - The ETSU fall sprts season is about to hit full swing, as the Buccaneer soccer team is set to open its season, Friday, August 25, when it takes on the Ole Miss Rebels in Oxford. The match is set to begin at 7 p.m. CST.
2006 Season Outlook
As ETSU enters into its second year in the Atlantic Sun conference, the Bucs will continue to work toward becoming a championship competitive team. "We are making strides every year toward winning a championship," said head coach Heather Henson. "We out-shot our opponents and battled through a lot of close games. We are looking to get better every time we step on the field."
With 13 starters returning, the Bucs have an experienced lineup, and with the addition of seven talented newcomers ETSU is ready to hit the ground running. "We are excited about this season for a range of reasons," said Henson. "We will begin to expand our conference and non-conference games and travel. We will continue to out-work our opponents and enjoy more of the fruits of our labors."
The Bucs return an experienced lineup in the attacking third. This group boasts a lot of minutes and experience, and will be led by senior Rebecca Murray (Franklin, Tenn.) and joined by junior Adrian Mobley (Framingham, Mass.) and sophomore Rachel Layer (Bel Air, Md.).
Mobley enters this season after scoring two goals in 2005 with one game winner. "
As a freshman, Rachel Layer played in all 20 of the Bucs' games, starting in 12. Layer got her career started with three goals, but expectations are for more in 2006. "Rachel's strong athletic presence is an asset in the attacking third. She worked diligently on a few new aspects of her game in the spring and it will pay off," said Henson.
The newcomers will add a great deal of versatility and should compete for time immediately. "Danielle Bayles (Atlanta, Ga.) has a great first step including breakaway speed. She is very effective at going end-line to service the box," commented Henson. "Jordan Monty (Dallas, Texas) is very athletic and her vision of the field will put her in a position to finish."
The Bucs midfield should be a strength in the 2006 campaign. "Having six returning players will definitely make us deep," said Henson. The midfield should be led by seniors Emily Fulcher (New Bern, N.C.) and Alex Schwark (Strongsville, Ohio) and joined by juniors Hannah Johnson (Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.), Katie O'Bryan (Hampton, Va.), Aubree Snyder (Reading, Pa.) and sophomore Meredith Goldman (Knoxville, Tenn.).
Fulcher starts the season ranked third on the Bucs' career leaders list in goals, shots and points. She has seen minutes in every game of her career and started every game for the last two seasons. "Emily's play in the center of the park and her finishing ability make her one of our most dangerous players. She reads the game as well as any player we have," said Henson.
Schwark, who saw action in 19 matches and started in 10, is expected to be a major contributor this season. "Alex will be expected to do a lot this season; she brings a great work rate to every game she plays. She works hard on both sides of the ball. She picks her opportunities to go forward but is a constant defensive presence," Henson stated. Schwark will look to build on last season's one goal and assist.
Johnson will look to build on last season's momentum and a great spring. "Hannah has added many elements to her individual game including taking more shots. She improves every time she steps on the pitch," stated Henson.
Junior Katie O'Bryan returns to the Bucs lineup after starting all 20 matches last season and contributing two goals, but looks to improve on those numbers. "Katie has a great ability to service balls in the attacking third; she has the ability to make us dangerous within two touches. We need to put her in a position this year to give our forwards the ball in good positions to finish," said Henson.
As a sophomore Snyder saw time in all 20 matches last season and is coming off a great season. She is expected to be a key to the Bucs midfield this spring. "Aubree is a work-horse," stated Henson. "This past spring Aubree really focused on her game; it showed in our play. She is a very simple player who maintains possession and is a defensive asset."
Goldman, whose freshman season was cut short by injury, has fully recovered and has put in a lot of time into preparing this season. "Meredith's versatility and her willingness to play any position gives us the ability to play different systems. Her flank play is truly her strength, especially when she is taking on 1 v 1," commented Henson.
Newcomer Krista Toliver (Arlington, Texas) should be able to compete immediately for the Bucs. "Her vision of the game and ability to use different services to get into the attacking third will be key for our future," stated Henson.
The Bucs are returning the core of the defense including two three-year starters in Blair DeGraw (Greensboro, N.C.) and Trista Haupt (Myersville, Md.) as well as sophomores Ashley Craig (Lakeland, Fla.)and Amanda Elieff (Windermere, Fla.).
DeGraw brings a great deal of minutes and experience to the defense, she will likely move to a center back position from the left back position. "Blair is very vocal and will be a key to our organization in the back," said Henson. "She is a patient back, who understands different types of opponents and systems."
Haupt who started all 20 matches last season returns for her senior campaign to anchor the defense. "Trista is a solid defender; she is the best man marking back we have. She will lead by example both on and off the field," commented Henson.
As a freshman, Craig saw action in 18 games and contributed two goals and five assists. In 2006, she will be expected to increase her productivity. "Ashley is a gamer. She can read the game and can create attacking opportunities coming out of the back. She really forces the opponents to respect her," said Henson.
Elieff enters the 2006 season much more prepared to make an impact. "Mandie was working back from an injury last season and is ready to play. In the spring she began to come out of her shell and looked much more confident on the ball. She has the ability to dominate the air both offensively and defensively," said Henson.
This group of backs will be strengthened by the addition of freshmen Kim Jones (Springfield, Va.) and Kia Kindall (Westchester, Ohio). "Kim is an exceptional 1 v 1 defender and loves to get into the attack," commented Henson. "Kia's physical presence in the back will limit the opponent's ability to service balls into the box and her ability to service the ball can change a game."
Defensively, this will be the youngest position of the pitch. With returning sophomore Erin Bilyeu (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and newcomer Megan Masch (Virginia Beach, Va.) the Bucs expect a strong battle to compete for the starting job. Both ladies can compete at a high level with the veterans.
Bilyeu who started 15 games last season garnered 80 saves for the Bucs and one shutout. "Coming back for her second year,
Newcomer Megan Masch will look to compete immediately for the Bucs. "Megan is fearless on the field. Her willingness to vocalize and organize the defensive aspects is an asset for us," said Henson.
In their second year in the Atlantic Sun Conference, the Bucs look to improve on their conference record while adding to their non-conference slate of teams with opponents from national power conferences; the ACC and SEC. The Bucs will again hit the road early in the season opening against SEC power Ole Miss and several other tournaments. The Bucs will tune up for the A-Sun tournament with Virginia Tech.
The Bucs will again have a challenging road schedule for the 2006 season with 13 of 19 games on the road. "This year's team will have to learn to win on the road with the number of away matches we have scheduled. Our staff feels this traveling should prepare us for the tough A-Sun conference," commented Henson.
"We are looking forward to this year's schedule; it will challenge our team with the time on the road and the level of competition. This year's team should have the experience and athleticism to compete with everyone on our schedule," said Henson.
Following tomorrow's match against Ole Miss, the Bucs will take on