|2011 Manhattan Women's Soccer Season Outlook|
The Manhattan women's soccer team enters the 2011 campaign prepared to vie for the MAAC title with a balanced roster consisting of a variety of experience. Under the direction of second year head coach Brendan Lawler, the Jaspers look to build on a transition season behind new leadership last year. Manhattan finished strong in 2010 playing its best soccer of the year down the stretch by picking up three of its five wins in the last three weeks of the season, despite being challenged with an injury plagued roster.
With one year under their belt in a new system, Lawler believes this group can position itself in the top of the conference to have a shot for the championship come November.
"We fully expected our players to enter preseason more fit and ready to play than ever before," Lawler explained. "With their heightened fitness levels and tactical awareness of our system, it allowed us to hit the ground running this season, instead of starting with a blank slate like last year. If we can find some luck in the injury department and a renewed focus from everybody working hard for each other, we fully expect to challenge for a top-four spot in the MAAC."
Manhattan returns a blend of skilled players at each position, along with a crop of talented newcomers. The Jaspers bring back eight starters, including senior captain Devon Lutz who is the only returnee to start in all 19 games last season. Lutz and fellow captains Marissa Greco and Nicole Landes are expected to bring leadership to a roster that welcomes eight new faces to the program.
Manhattan still has several weapons up front, despite the graduation of Caroline Morse who was one of the top offensive threats to come through the program finishing her career with 57 points. Lutz will help offset the loss with her transition to the forward position, after starting 50 of her 56 career appearances in the back. Lutz has a wonderful attacking presence, which she put on display over several occasions throughout her career compiling six points from the defensive end.
Upperclassmen Tara Gleason and Kayla Howden, along with sophomore Martine Diamond are also expected to be significant contributors to the Jaspers' offensive attack. Gleason appeared in all 19 games last season and ranked second on the team firing 31 shots. She brings phenomenal speed and energy to the attack.
Howden enters her junior campaign with significant experience under her belt playing in 36 games over her first two seasons at Manhattan. Howden adds a dangerous dimension to the front line with her unique combination of speed, strength and balance, along with a knack for finding the net. Diamond made a splash during her rookie campaign as she displayed her ability to create off the dribble and make tremendous runs. In 12 games as a freshman, Diamond finished third on the team in points, including a game winning goal and assisting a game winner.
The Jaspers add even more depth on the offensive end with sophomore Janie Schlauder transitioning to the front line, along with the addition of sophomore transfer Lexi Kearns. Schlauder appeared in 18 games as a freshman. She is a savvy player with good technique who can break down defenses well off the dribble. Kearns is a Warwick, N.Y. native who played in nine matches for Western Carolina last year. She gives Manhattan even more speed in the attack and strikes the ball well.
"When we play in high pressure this group will be able to win the ball quickly and create a lot of scoring opportunities for us," explained Lawler.
Manhattan brings back an experienced midfield, which will be anchored in the center by Greco, Landes and sophomore Brittany Egan. All three players are healthy and looking to rebound from injuries after being sidelined for the majority of the 2010 season.
"Marissa, Nicole and Brittany have the ability to help our team be more dangerous in attack and solidify us defensively," explained Lawler.
Greco remains one of the Jaspers most consistent players at both ends of the field. The Long Valley, N.J. native has appeared in 37 games and posted four points over her career at Manhattan. Her 2010 campaign was cut short when she went down in the second match of the year, after she assisted the game winning goal in the Jaspers' season opening win at Gaelic Park.
Landes saw action in four games in 2011 following a promising freshman campaign, before catching the injury bug. When healthy, she is a physical player with good speed who works hard on both sides of the ball. Egan has returned to form after experiencing an abbreviated 2010 season. She brings stability to the middle with her high soccer IQ that she has displayed at both ends of the field over her 29 career appearances.
Manhattan welcomes two newcomers in freshman Kiersten McGarty, who is expected to contribute to the offensive production out of the center, as well as transfer Jordan Luithle who has a quick technical ability and can provide a physical presence in the middle. McGarty comes to Manhattan from Monroe, N.Y. where she was selected a Times-Herald Record All-Star as a senior at Monroe-Woodbury High School. Luithle is a 5'11" junior who brings Division I experience to the unit after playing in 19 games during two years at Towson, including 15 last season.
The Jaspers return a great deal of experience, pace and ball striking ability out wide with senior Megan Lavecchia and junior Allison Pfeiffer. Lavecchia is coming off the top offensive season of her career, finishing second on the team with two goals and two points. Lavecchia brings an amazing work rate to the midfield and she uses her energy to pressure opposing defenses into mistakes. Pfeiffer has 35 games of experience after her first two years with the program. She excels in creating scoring chances in the attacking third and is another weapon for the Jaspers up front. Pfeiffer scored the second game winning goal of her career last season lifting Manhattan to a season opening victory over Fairleigh Dickinson.
Junior Sara Jones and sophomore Alex Iovine stepped up in the spring according to Lawler, as he expects them to be a great help in the wide positions. Jones, Iovine and freshman Shannon Garrity provide the Jaspers great depth on the outside due to their great deal of fitness which is a necessity in this role.
Playing primarily out of the back in 2010, Jones started 12 of 17 appearances and contributed to all four of the Jaspers' shutouts. Jones is a tough defender with an offensive mindset who likes to get involved in the attack. Iovine is the most experienced of the last year's freshman class as she was the only rookie to appear in all 19 games. Iovine is a versatile player who started in 12 matches and recorded an assist in the Jaspers' victory at Iona. Garrity comes to Riverdale from Massapequa High School where she helped guide the program to a 19-0-1 overall record and the 2010 New York State Class AA Championship. Garrity offers a great work ethic and understanding how to defend and attack from any wide position.
Manhattan will rely on senior Claire Reinhard to continue anchoring the back line, especially with the graduation of two-time team captain Kara Bucci. Reinhard brings an excellent technical presence to the field, while also possessing good composure and an ability to control the tempo. In 2010, Reinhard received the starting nod in all 17 appearances and she dished out a team-high two assists.
Shannon Barry and Keara Hunt made long strides in adapting to the collegiate game during the spring and should bolster the Jaspers' defense. The sophomore tandem joins Reinhard for a backline that will be difficult to score against. Barry is a versatile player who has a good understanding of the game. She appeared in five games last season, after enjoying a successful career at Arlington High School, where she was a two-time All-Section honoree. Hunt played in 16 games for the Jaspers in 2010. She brings a phenomenal work rate to the field.
Freshman back Rachel Tomashosky is expected to have an immediate impact on the Jaspers' defense. Tomashosky comes to Manhattan after a very successful career at John Jay High School where she helped the program win back-to-back New York State Class AA Championships (2008 & 2009). She adds terrific individual defending skills and a tactical understanding to the defense.
Freshmen Emily Teepe and Elisa Cullaro will add depth to the Jaspers backline. Teepe is a hard-nosed defender with a high soccer IQ. She was a four year starter at Northport High School who earned All-Conference honors and was named the team's Most Valuable Player as a senior. Cullaro, a native of New City, N.Y., started all four years at Clarkstown South High School.
Junior goalkeeper Kara Davis followed up her 2009 MAAC All-Rookie campaign with a superb performance in her second year with the program. Maria Sanzari, a 5'9" product of North Haven, Conn., will serve as the back up for Davis in 2011.
"Kara is one of the most solid goalkeepers in the conference," explained Lawler. "The coaching staff and her teammates have all the faith in the world that Kara will make all the saves she should, plus make the great saves that will turn losses into ties and ties into wins. Kara has the physical and technical ability to be the difference for us this year."
Davis started 15 of 16 appearances in 2010, finished third in the MAAC with 96 saves and fourth with an .828 save percentage. She posted three shutouts, increasing her career total to eight, and she received credit for all five victories. In nine MAAC matches, Davis led the league with 60 saves and she posted a 1.18 goals against average.
Sanzari possesses tremendous athleticism and has terrific hands. She offers a precise outlet throw that can spark counterattacks.
Manhattan is scheduled for a competitive 18-game regular season in 2011. The Jaspers will host seven contests at Gaelic Park, including Manhattan's home opener with cross-Bronx rival Fordham on Sept. 9.
Manhattan's lineup also consists of opponents from the Patriot League, Ivy League, America East and Northeast Conference, in addition to the always challenging Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference slate. The 2011 MAAC Women's Soccer Championships will be held Nov. 4 & 6 at Loyola University in Baltimore, Md.
Manhattan opens the regular season with a two-game road series, which begins at Atlantic 10 member Rhode Island on Aug. 26. One week later, the Jaspers will face off with Bryant (Sept. 2).
Manhattan will play four of its next five games in Riverdale, beginning with its highly anticipated Friday night contest with cross-town rival Fordham (Sept. 9). After visiting Fairleigh Dickinson on Sept. 11, the Jaspers return to Gaelic Park for three straight non-conference matches, starting with Sacred Heart on Sept. 16, which is the second game of a doubleheader with the Manhattan men's team. The Jaspers travel to Staten Island to face Wagner on Sept. 18, and then return home for Albany on Sept. 21.
The Jaspers will travel to Lafayette on Sept. 25, before opening the league schedule on their home turf hosting Canisius (Sept. 30) and Niagara (Oct. 2) at Gaelic Park. Manhattan will play two road contests the following weekend at defending MAAC Champion Siena (Oct. 7) and Marist (Oct. 9).
Manhattan returns to Riverdale on Oct. 14 to meet Fairfield, and will then play its final home game on Oct. 16 against Iona. The Jaspers finish out their last four games on the road when they visit Saint Peter's (Oct. 21), Columbia (Oct. 24), Loyola (Oct. 28) and Rider (Oct. 30).
For the second straight year, Loyola will play host to the 2011 MAAC Women's Soccer Championships (Nov. 4 & 6). The top four teams in the conference will qualify for the tournament. The league champion will receive an automatic bid to the 2011 NCAA Tournament.