Women's Soccer To Rely On Veteran Leadership
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Women's Soccer To Rely On Veteran Leadership

When fans come to support the North Greenville University women’s soccer team, they may need some time to memorize the roster list. After losing eight members of last year’s team that finished 10-7 overall including a perfect 6-0 away from Pepsi Stadium, head coach Jesse McCormick brought in 11 new freshmen , the most in team history.

For the 2011 season to be a successful one, McCormick has stressed the need for team chemistry a veteran leadership.

“We will have a very young team so it will be important for our incoming players to gel quickly with our returning players.”

Despite the large group of newcomers, the Lady Crusaders do have six starters returning, all of which play key positions.

Midfielder/forward Jade Salle is expected to lead the attack after a strong sophomore season saw her finish third on the team in goals scored (3) and first in assists (7). Midfielders Cara Cecil and Rebecca Stidham are two other returning starters that figure to steady the flow of the game. Last season Cecil  guided the offense from the center midfielder position and scored two goals, while Stidham, despite missing six games to injury, scored one goal and assisted on four others from the left side. Marguerite Motsinger is another returner on offense who can play both forward and midfield and provides depth and versatility for the squad. Last season Motsinger saw action in 15 games and recorded one goal.

On defense, Abby Brack is the unquestioned leader of the team as she has started 30 careers games in two seasons. Rising sophomore Kristi Newton is expected to help lead the defense as she looks to improve in her second full season on the field after starting 12 of 17 games in 2010.

In goal, senior goalkeeper Regina Ibanga looks to carry over momentum after a strong second half finish in 2010. After starting the season 4-5 in the team’s first nine games, Ibanga stepped her aggressive play and the team followed her lead winning six of the final eight games, including a six-game win streak in October. Ibanga started 15 games and lead the Lady Crusaders with 78 saves and a 1.26 Goals Against Average while recording four shutouts. Krista Young, a player who sees action in the midfield and as a backup goalie, played two games in goal last season and posted 13 saves and a 1.5 Goals Against Average.

In addition to the large incoming class, the Lady Crusaders are joining a tough Conference Carolinas that saw six of its 11 members finish above .500 in conference play last season. However, the Lady Crusaders expect to come in and compete right away with their strong work ethic and depth of players with ability to play multiple positions.

 “It is a privilege to be able to represent both NGU and the Conference Carolinas,” said McCormick of joining the new conference.  “Anytime you have the chance to play for a conference championship it can help players as they work for a tangible goal and the opportunity to compete in the NCAA Division II national tournament. Joining a great group of other schools already in the conference will continue to help us as we seek to recruit top student-athletes who will excel both in the classroom and on the field.”

The Lady Crusaders will begin the season on Sept. 1 as they play host to in-state rival Southern Wesleyan University at 7 p.m. in Pepsi Stadium. The season schedule is highlighted by a matchup with Lees-McRae College (14-6, 8-2 CC in 2010) on Sept. 17 and a matchup with 2010 conference champion Belmont Abbey (17-2-3, 9-0-1 CC) just a week later on Sept. 24 in Tigerville. Among the remaining eight games is a contest against Queens University (10-8, 8-2 CC) on Oct. 1 and the season finale against Pfeiffer College (13-6-2, 8-2CC) on Oct. 25.