Aug. 15, 2012
ANNAPOLIS, Md. -
With eight starters returning from a team that won 13 games and played in the Patriot League title game last fall, head coach Carin Gabarra is looking forward to beginning the 20th season of Navy women's soccer in 2012.
Navy posted a winning season for the 17th-consecutive season last fall with an overall record of 13-6-3. In the 2011 Star Game, Navy overcame a two-goal deficit by scoring three times in the second half to defeat Army, 3-2. Navy improved its Star Game record against Army to 9-7-2.
The Mids were 4-2-1 in Patriot League play, tying for second place in the league standings and earning the No. 3 seed in the postseason tournament. Navy defeated Lafayette, 3-2, in the league semifinals to advance to its ninth Patriot League title game.
Navy also spent seven weeks in the NSCAA Mid-Atlantic Region Top 10 and finished the season ranked 90th out of 322 teams in the national RPI rankings.
Gabarra led Navy to all of these achievements in 2011 while fielding the youngest team in program history, which included 12 freshmen and 10 sophomores. Now with 18 returning lettermen and a strong incoming class, Gabarra will look to lead Navy to even greater heights in 2012.
"Our goal, as it always is, will be to win the Patriot League and go to the NCAAs," Gabarra said. "But we do need to take it one step at a time and make a lot of preparations, but ultimately that will once again be our team goal for this year."
Gabarra holds a 237-112-33 (.664) record in 19 seasons at Navy and is 243-122-33 (.652) in 20 seasons overall. Gabarra has a winning percentage of .672 during Navy's tenure as a member of the Patriot League, the best of any coach in league history. Gabarra has led Navy to 14 Patriot League Tournament appearances, six regular season titles, three tournament championships and three NCAA Tournaments.
The Mids return their top eight goal-scorers and all three starting forwards. Navy's balanced offensive attack ranked second in the Patriot League last season in both points per game (4.45) and goals per game (1.59).
"We are going to use a lot of players at forward," Gabarra said. "We have good team speed and we find ways to score with our great finishers. We want our forwards to work hard off the ball and open things up for each other.
"Ashlynn Soellner is very good in the air and has the ability to change games. We expect her to make good things happen for us. Also Morgan Dankanich and Paloma Perez play very well together. They are fast and can get behind the defense and both finish very well. It's hard to stop players like that when they continue to run at you throughout the game."
Soellner, Navy's leading goal-scorer in each of the past two seasons will again be looked upon to pace Navy's offensive efforts in her junior season. Soellner earned All-Patriot League First Team honors in 2011 and was named to the All-Mid-Atlantic Region Second Team after scoring six goals.
Soellner tallied two game-winning goals and was twice named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week. She was also one of three Mids to earn a spot on the Patriot League All-Tournament team. Soellner was named to the inaugural Patriot League Preseason All-League Team prior to the 2012 season.
Junior Paloma Perez tallied 12 points in each of her first two seasons at Navy, scoring five goals in 2010 and four goals in 2011. Perez is one of the quickest players on the team and is always a scoring threat with her breakaway ability.
Sophomore Morgan Dankanich produced a number of great moments for the team during her plebe year. Dankanich notched five goals in 2011, four of which were of the game-winning variety. Dankanich scored game-winning goals in three straight contests, including the deciding tally in the 88th minute in Navy's come-from-behind, 3-2, victory over Army.
Junior Sam Newhaller scored three goals in 2011, including game-winners against Bryant and Francis Marion. Newhaller also tallied three goals as a freshman in 2010.
Sophomore Caprice Kelty showed her potential with a breakout game against Monmouth. Kelty tallied both of Navy's goals in the 2-1 victory and finished the season with three goals.
Sophomore Sam Lee returns after tallying four assists. Lee earned a spot in Navy's starting lineup midway through the season and started the final 11 games.
Sophomore Lily Kraemer, a 5-10 forward, will also be used up front. Kraemer played in 14 games during her freshman season.
Navy will open the 2012 season with a solid group of players at the midfield position.
"We look for our midfielders to be very technical, tactical and mobile," Gabarra said. "They are the engines of the team. They have to move the ball quickly and decisively and create goal-scoring chances.
"Taylor Batye had a great spring and is really crafty with the ball," Gabarra said. "Also Fallon Puppolo, Brittany Fruin and Rachel Hunter have a lot of experience. They are all very technical and very good with the ball. Kaylie Davidson is also going to be a great addition for us. She is excellent dribbling under pressure and loves to have the ball on her feet. We have a great mix in the midfield."
Senior Brittany Fruin is Navy's active career scoring leader with 28 points. Fruin has started 40 games over the past three seasons and had three goals and three assists in 2011. Fruin was named to the Patriot League All-Academic Team and the CoSIDA Academic All-District II Second Team last fall.
Fellow senior Fallon Puppolo is another veteran on Navy's midfield line. Puppolo has started 41 games over the past two seasons and owns a team-best 52 starts in her career. Puppolo tallied three goals last season.
Junior Taylor Batye made five starts in the midfield last season and saw action in all 22 games. Batye, who had one assist last year, will be looked upon to take an even greater role in 2012.
Sophomore Rachel Hunter returns after leading all forwards and midfielders with 1238 minutes played last season. Hunter tallied 10 points on four goals and two assists in her rookie season. She was named the MVP of the Navy Invitational after scoring the game-winning goal in the 95th minute against Davidson and earned a pair of Patriot League Rookie of the Week accolades.
Freshman Kaylie Davidson, of Oceanside, Calif., joins the team after a very successfully high school and club career. Davidson won a pair of national club titles with the So Cal Blues and the Girls 93 Cal South ODP squad.
Freshman midfielder Jayne Woolard won a regional title with her Chadwick Palos Verdes high school team. She is the younger sister of teammate, K.D. Woolard.
Freshman Nikki Peterson, from Milford, Conn., will also provide depth to the midfield position.
Navy will replace 2012 graduate Amanda Serfass in the midfield. Serfass was a solid all-around player who started 50 career games at Navy, including all 22 last season.
"Our defenders are young this year, but they are experienced," Gabarra said. "We've taught a lot of 1v1 and team defending and that has been a focus of ours. We want to keep the other team off the scoreboard and we are moving in the right direction. We have a lot of quality players that can play both wide and in the middle."
Senior Kelsey Learned will serve as the 2012 team captain. Learned started 30 games as a defender during her first two seasons at Navy (2009-10).
"Kelsey is very experienced playing in the back, as well as the midfield," Gabarra said. "She's a good 1v1 tackler, she's good in the air and she's mentally tough and competitive. She has some great attributes that will really help our team."
The defender position may be one of Navy's deepest units in 2012 and Gabarra will have plenty of options.
"Emily Wilkin will be playing center back and she is a verbal leader for us," Gabarra said. "We have Julie Schumacher who can play every minute at a very high level. Jade Seabrook will be moving to center back and she will give us a great technical ability and could really help our defense. Joy Pearson has a lot of speed and is very good on the ball. We have a lot of quality back there."
Junior Emily Wilkin successfully recovered from an injury that caused her to miss nearly her entire freshman campaign to make 19 starts as a sophomore. Wilkin was a key player on Navy's defensive backline in 2011.
Sophomore Julie Schumacher made 11 starts on the defensive backline and is expected to be a key contributor for Navy in 2012. Schumacher was one of two Navy players to earn a spot on the inaugural Patriot League Preseason All-League Team.
Sophomore Kahra Kelty also returns after starting 14 games as an outside defender in her first season.
Sophomore Jade Seabrook played a key role in Navy's midfield unit last season, seeing time in 18 contests, and is likely to be used as a central defender this year.
Junior Britta Vivaldi and sophomore Sarah Martella also return and will provide depth to Navy's defense. Both Vivaldi and Martella played solid minutes in 2011.
Sophomore defender Gabby McIntyre saw her playing time greatly increase as the season went on. McIntyre logged a season-high 60 minutes in the Patriot League title game against Army.
Freshman Joy Pearson can play as a defender and as a forward. Pearson had a successful club career with Real So Cal. Pearson is one of the fastest Navy newcomers.
Freshman defender Lizzy Rullan helped her Ward Melville high school team on Long Island capture a league and country championship as a captain during her senior season. Rullan was an all-state player who lettered four times in soccer. She may also be used as a midfielder.
Freshman defender Lexi Ricketts comes to Annapolis after leading her Woodlands HS team to a state championship in Texas in 2010 and a regional final appearance as a senior.
Junior defender K.D. Woolard appeared in 15 games with three starts last season, but is questionable to compete in 2012 due to an offseason injury.
The Mids will move forward on defense without 2012 graduate and team captain Kate Herren. As a senior, Herren earned first-team all-league and all-region honors while leading Navy's defensive backline.
Navy ranked second in the league last season with nine shutouts and the team was third with an overall goals-against average of 0.90. The Mids will carry three goalkeepers on the 2012 roster, all of which are juniors.
All-Patriot League goalkeeper Alexes Lopez-Shaw returns after earning second-team honors with an 0.94 goals-against average and seven shutouts. Lopez-Shaw was credited with each of Navy's 13 wins and made 64 saves. Through two seasons, Lopez-Shaw owns a career record of 17-9-2.
Goalkeeper Elizabeth Hoerner also returns for her third season at Navy. Hoerner has logged 132 career minutes without allowing a single goal. Hoerner played the majority of minutes for Navy during the team's spring season and has raised her level or play.
Junior Kalli Schulz is Navy's third goalkeeper on the roster. This is Schulz's first year with the team.