POTSDAM -- For the past few seasons, the Clarkson University Women’s Soccer team has struggled to light up the scoreboard with goals.
However, subtleties in the statistics show the Golden Knights made a significant strides last year offensively, and that the team, with some cliché lucky bounces, could see a rapid turn around its record in 2010.
Guided by 10th-year head coach Laurel Kane and assistant coach Kelly Norman, the Green and Gold, which finished with a 3-11-2 overall mark in 2009, have mustered just 22 goals in the past two years, including 10 last season.
While Clarkson may have been outscored 36-10 in its 16 contests, the Knights were outshot just 243-212, and trailed in shots on goal 131-123. In fact, the Knights had the lowest percentage of goals scored per shot (.047), but the highest percentage of shots on goal per shot (.580).
Better placement and some tricky skips of the soccer ball could make all the difference in 2010.
The keys offensively will come from a strong group of upperclassmen. Seniors Ariana Czech (Big Bear City, CA) and Meryn Lounsbury (North Norwich, NY) have proven adept at scoring in the past and will be counted on in 2010.
Czech is Clarkson’s second-leading active scorer despite missing several games last year due to injury. Having returned healthy for this season, Czech has contributed four goals and three assists over the course of her career.
Lounsbury, a Liberty League Honorable Mention All-Star last season, produced a single assist last season, but proved to be an offensive force for the Knights, leading the team in shots (37) and shots on goal (22). With better situations, Lounsbury could put up huge numbers for the Knights as a senior.
Joining the two seniors on the attack are a pair of juniors, Andrea Walsh (Underhill Center, Vt.) and Hilary Mosher (Hilton). Walsh was the team’s leading scorer last season as a sophomore, scoring a pair of goals and an assist for five points. Mosher played eight games last season and is still seeking her first collegiate point after beginning her career as a defensive player.
In the midfield, junior Alyssa Dausman (Syracuse) headlines a young group. Dausman led the team with three assists as a sophomore, and she has proven to be a valuable playmaker with five helpers in her career.
Joining Dausman are sophomores Sarah Andres (Honeoye) and Linde Zajac (Cicero, NY). The pair proved to be valuable players as freshmen, combining to make 18 starts in the 16 contests. With a year of experience, the two could take significant steps forward for the Knights.
Along with the three returners, the midfield has three freshmen in the mix for playing time in Marissa Cook (Chateaugay), Nicole Mendelson (Richmond, Vt.), and Emily Riggi (Gansevoort).
The Clarkson defenders are a very deep and experienced group, and several of the players may find themselves playing up front on attack during the season as well. Junior Alix Petitti (Amsterdam), a Liberty League Honorable Mention All-Star in 2009, has played in 32 of the 33 games over the last two seasons, and will be counted on to lead the defensive group. Classmate Emily Garrant (Marcellus, NY) played in 14 games in the back, starting three times, and scored her first career goal last season.
A key component to the Clarkson defense is the re-introduction of Courtney Donovan (South Hero, Vt.). After missing last season, Donovan is back to contribute her considerable skills on both sides of the field. Donovan is the team’s leading active scorer with 12 points (4 goals, 4 assists), and she could help the Knights both offensively and defensively.
Along with the upperclassmen, sophomore Katie VanDeValk (Baldwinsville) will be looked to for defensive support. VanDeValk was one of only two players to start all 16 games last season and it is unlikely that the streak will be broken in 2010. Classmates Nicole Johnson (Massena) and Kathryn Swords (Black River) expect to see more time in their second seasons with the Golden Knights.
Four freshmen add to the depth on defense. Caitlyn Hennessey (East Syracuse), Andrea Riedman (Kirkville), Haley Swanson (Rochester, NY) and Andrea Westervelt (Brookfield, Conn.) will all vie for time in their first collegiate year.
After struggling with injuries on and off throughout her career, senior Stephanie Collins (Colton) stepped to the forefront as the team’s top goalkeeper in 2009. She posted two shutouts and 81 saves in 13 games, spending more than 1100 minutes on the line for the Knights. Freshman Liz Snow (Watertown) will apprentice under Collins for her first season, and will certainly see some time in net as well while she gains a foothold in intercollegiate athletics.