The University of Lynchburg women’s soccer team was recently slotted in the No. 10 position in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America/Adidas Pre-Season Poll.
The Hornets are coming off one of the best seasons in school history as the team went 21-1-3, making it to the top 16 in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Ithaca (N.Y.) College 2-0 on a cold, snowy day in Williamstown, Mass.
The reigning Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) champions lost only one player off of last year’s team, and returns all 11 starters to the fold this season. Betsy Kwiatkowski (Mount Jackson, VA/Stonewall Jackson)enters her junior season as one of the premier players in all of Division III soccer. Kwiatkowski paced the conference in points (54) and assists (18), and was also tied for second league-wide with 18 goals. Joining her up top will be fellow junior Katie Santos (Cheltenham, MD/Bishop Ireton), the ODAC’s leading striker from a year ago with 21 goals.
Returning to the midfield will be 2008 ODAC Player of the Year and Third Team All-American Ashley Hoath (Alexandria, VA/Mout Vernon). Ashley Hoath scored 18 goals as a junior, including posting a hat trick in a 3-2 come-from-behind win in the conference title game over Virginia Wesleyan College. Ashley will be joined on the pitch by younger sisters Beverly Hoath and newcomer Shelly Hoath. Beverly shined as a freshman, earning conference Rookie of the Year laurels, while the youngest Hoath is expected to contribute as well.
In the backfield, Lynchburg will employ a consistent group of experienced performers in senior Kaitlyn LeRiche (Guilford, CT/Guilford), junior Cecilia Moore (Washington, DC/Woodrow Wilson) and senior Fallon Page (Woodstock, MD/Archbishop Spaulding). Goalkeepers Jackie Bader (Fort Washington, MD/Bishop Ireton) and Anna Wright (Ashland, VA/Patrick Henry) will form a strong 1-2 tandem in goal, as head coach Dr. Todd Olsen looks to lead the Hornets to their eighth conference title since 1999.
Lynchburg is playing one of the hardest schedules in school history as this season’s slate is highlighted by non-conference road games with No. 4 William Smith (N.Y.) College and No. 6 Johns Hopkins University. The team is also traveling to Virginia Beach for a road ODAC tussle with No. 12 Virginia Wesleyan on Sept. 26. LC’s toughest challenge may come on Sept. 19 on Shellenberger Field, as the Hornets host D-III defending champion and pre-season No. 1 Messiah (Penn.) College.
LC gets its 2009 season started Tuesday, Sept. 1 with a road battle with the Lady Captains of Christopher Newport University at 6 p.m.