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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, June 24, 2024

Women's soccer up to the challenge

With a talented core of returning players and eight promising freshman joining the roster, the largest obstacle for the women's soccer team this year will be pressure.

That pressure will come from within, as the defending national runner-ups attempt to fill the gaps left by its three departed captains, two of whom were All-Americans. Pressure will also come from every opponent - teams that once regarded Tufts as an underdog but now consider it the team to beat in New England.

Coach Martha Whiting will have her first opportunity to continue last year's success today, when Tufts plays its first NESCAC game at Wesleyan. Although the Cardinals finished at the bottom of the league last year, Whiting says they are a strong opponent.

"Every team that we play will be extremely pumped up to play us," Whiting said. "We have no control over that. We just have to forget about it and play."

While the starting lineup has not been determined, Whiting will employ a 4-4-2 formation, with four defenders, four midfielders, and two forwards.

Forwards

Senior co-captain Lynn Cooper and sophomore Jess Trombly established themselves as team leaders last year and will start in the forward positions this fall. Cooper, who has led the team in scoring in each of her three seasons as a Jumbo and has 76 career points, was named to last year's All New England First Team. Trombly came off the bench last season to provide a speedy scoring threat and ended up third on the team with 20 points. At season's end, she earned NESCAC Rookie of the Year honors. Sophomore Becca Doigan, who Whiting said is in good physical shape, will back up the two starters.

Midfielders

Returning to the outside midfield positions will be senior Becky Mann and junior Elizabeth Tooley. The center positions will be filled by an array of returnees, including seniors Katie Kehrberger and Sara Standish and juniors Alle Sharlip and Brenna O'Rourke.

"I think we have strong and smart midfielders, which is always a plus," Whiting said. "Our wide players are fast and that's a really important aspect of our game. Becky Mann will suddenly turn it on, and she can surprisingly score a lot of goals. Elizabeth came off the bench last year and did a great job."

Defense

Easily the most inexperienced unit for the women's soccer team, the defense will rely on the leadership and skill of co-captain Katie Ruddy to hold itself intact.

"[Ruddy] is a good communicator on the field," Whiting said. "She's a veteran player. She's been out in the trenches for three years, and she will be there to step up and lead."

In the backfield with Ruddy will be junior Cara Glassanos and sophomores Abby Herzberg and Jess Lovitz. Glassanos and Lovitz saw significant playing time last year, while Herzberg only played in five games. Defenders will have to adjust to a diamond formation, consisting of a sweeper, stopper, and two outside backs, instead of the flat back four set-up. "People are more comfortable," said senior Katie Kehrberger. "This type of defense suits the players better this year."

Goalkeepers

In goal, senior Mara Schanfield will have the daunting task of replacing second team All-American Randee McArdle, who graduated last year. While Schanfield's playing time has been limited, she has a career 87.5 save percentage in the nine games she has played. "Mara's confidence has gone up and up since we have been practicing," Whiting said. "I have nothing but good things to say about her."

But Schanfield, who received a red card in Saturday's loss to Babson for interfering with an opposing player, is suspended for today's game. Backup goalkeeper Meg McCourt, a freshman, will start instead. "Meg did a nice job Saturday," Whiting said. "I think she's confident and she's a good communicator."

Bench

While the starting lineup is not completely set, Whiting will have a few dependable returning players on the bench. Aside from McCourt, no other freshmen will start games early on. "You never know who is going to shine and deserve to start," Whiting said. But, she added, "we are at a point now where we don't need any of the freshmen to start."

While the bench will be relatively inexperienced, there are a handful of players who can step on the field and get the job done.

Coach

Although she is in only her third season as head coach, Whiting has received numerous accolades, including National Coach of the Year recognition last season. Whiting was a goalkeeper for Tufts women's soccer team from 1989-92, and holds the University records for career saves and fewest goals allowed in a season.


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