2013 Women's Soccer Preseason Preview

Updated 8/23/2013
Team Previews Courtesy of Athletic Communications Departments
 
CLEVELAND, Ohio - The road to the 2013 MAC Tournament starts this weekend with nine teams beginning competition on Friday.  Click HERE for complete 2013 women's soccer schedule. 
 
East Division
 
Miami RedHawks
Miami is coming off one of its best seasons in program history, posting a school and Mid-American Conference-record 20 wins, en route to a 20-3-1 record, including 10-0-1 in MAC play. The RedHawks captured both the MAC regular-season and tournament championships for just the second time in program history. By winning the MAC Tournament, Miami earned a berth in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and upset No. 20 Tennessee on the road in overtime to advance to the second round, before falling to No. 15 Duke.
 
The 'Hawks return 10 starters and 14 letterwinners from last year's squad.Leading the RedHawks in 2013 will be a quartet of All-MAC performers, paced by senior captain and midfielder Katy Dolesh, who has been a First-Team selection each of the last two years. Fellow senior midfielder Kayla Zakrzewski and junior midfielder Kelsey Dinges were also First-Team All-MAC performers last year, while sophomore midfielder Haley Walter, the 2012 MAC Freshman of the Year, was a Second-Team recipient. 
 
The RedHawks open the season at Illinois State Friday at 5 p.m. ET/4 p.m. local in Normal, Ill. before moving on to Indiana to battle Valparaiso on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. local.
 
Kent State Golden Flashes
The Golden Flashes are coming off a record-setting campaign in 2012 that included team records for wins (13), winning percentage (.700, 13-5-2 overall record), goals (40) and assists (44).  Since training camp opened Aug. 6, the Flashes have been eager to pick up where they left off.
 
Kent State returns three of its top four scorers from a year ago in senior forwards Jaclyn Dutton (Bridgeport, Ohio) and Jessacca Gironda (Akron, Ohio), and junior forwardStephanie Haugh.
 
Kent State opens the 2013 regular season at 5 p.m.  Aug. 23 when it hosts St. Bonaventure at Zoeller Field.
 
Ohio Bobcats
The 2013 season will mark the beginning of Aaron Rodgers’ career as a head coach. The Texas native spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach in charge of goalkeepers at the University of Kentucky.
 
Ohio returns 14 letterwinners and seven starters from a 2012 team which posted an 8-10-1 mark and a 3-6-1 record in Mid-American Conference play. Last season, the Bobcats made their fourth straight MAC Tournament appearance, falling in the first round to eventual champion Miami, 1-0. The 2012 appearance in the conference tournament was the 14th in program history.
 
The ‘Cats will welcome Indiana (Aug. 23), Wright State (Aug. 25), and DePaul (Aug. 30) to Chessa Field to begin the 2013 campaign.
 
Akron Zips
Akron women's soccer is coming off a 2012 season that saw the squad tie the single season record for points (69) and set the program mark for assists (23) in a season. The Zips went 6-11-1 overall last season and 2-8-1 in the MAC in head coach Vernon Croft's first year at the helm.
 
The Zips roster currently stands at 27 players, with five incoming players and 22 returning players. Lani Smith and Sydney Blomquist have transferred from the University of South Carolina and Louisville, respectively, while Abby Gindlesberger, Karin Normanand Sarah Sivic enter the program as freshmen.
 
Akron women's soccer will have eight home matches in the 2013 season, beginning with Boston University on Sept. 8 at noon in FirstEnergy Stadium – Cub Cadet Field.
They head to Purdue for the Boilermaker Cup to open up the regular season.
 
Buffalo Bulls
The University at Buffalo Bulls are coming off of a disappointing season in 2012 as they closed out the year with an overall record of 5-12-2. A slew of injuries and inconsistent play doomed the Bulls in what was supposed to be a very successful season. 
 
Since training camp opened earlier this month, the Bulls have looked eager to make major strides on both sides of the pitch. The Bull return 13 players who appeared in at least 10 games last season including three of their top five scorers from a season ago in juniors Katie Roberts, Courtney Mann and sophomore Kristin Markiewicz. 
 
The Bulls will travel to East Lansing to open against Michigan State on Aug. 23
 
Bowling Green Falcons
The 2012 club finished with an overall record of 1-17-1 and a Mid-American Conference mark of 0-10-1. Ten of the Falcons' losses, including six in conference play, came by a single goal.
Returning is 13 letterwinners, including eight starters, from a year ago.
 
The 2013 roster features a total of 26 players, including nine freshmen. The roster also includes six seniors, including co-captains Alyssa Carmack and Jenny Fowler.  Fowler, the lone fifth-year Falcon, is a team co-captain for the second-straight season.  Ivi Casagrande, Kaitlyn Tobin, Tracy Togba and Madeline Wideman round out the senior class.
 
The Falcons' regular-season opener is set for Sunday afternoon, Aug. 25, at Cleveland State. The regular-season home opener will come the following weekend, as BG hosts Butler on Saturday, Aug. 31, in a 4:00 p.m. start at Cochrane.
 
West Division
 
Toledo Rockets
Last fall, UT was the Mid-American Conference preseason favorite but the squad was decimated by injuries and limped to a 7-12-2 overall record. This included a 5-5-1 league mark which was good enough to qualify for the MAC Tournament for a school-record eighth consecutive season.
 
Toledo will be captained by senior forward Rachel MacLeod, junior midfielder Meghan Topolewski and senior defender Becky Rhodes in 2013. Head Coach Brad Evans is excited about the tone the captains have set heading into fall camp, but he is looking for all of the upperclassmen to show leadership.
 
Toledo opens its regular season at Big Ten member Minnesota on Friday, Aug. 23 at 7:00 p.m. as part of the Gopher Tournament.
 
Eastern Michigan Eagles
The Eagles posted a record of 11-6-2 in 2012, while going 8-3 in MAC play. The eight conference wins were the most the MAC victories in one season since the Green and White notched the same number of victories during the 2003 season. Following an impressive 2012 season and only losing one Eagle to graduation, the 2013 campaign should be an exciting one as Eastern has set its sights on a MAC championship.
 
The Eagles will once again be led by 15th-year Head Coach Scott Hall, who has taken the squad to the postseason 11 times with one MAC title in 1999. The 2013 group features 20 returning letterwinners along with 10 starters and six newcomers.
 
EMU begins the regular season portion of the schedule at home, battling the Detroit Titans Friday, Aug. 23, at 5 p.m.
 
Central Michigan Chippewas
CMU is coming off a highly successful 2012 season in which it went 15-7-1, including a 10-2 mark in MAC play, and earned the conference’s first-ever at large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
 
Junior Laura Gosse (5 goals, 1 assist) and senior Jennifer Gassman (4 goals, 2 assists), both forwards, are the team’s top two returning scorers, combining for 21 points a year ago. 
 
Central will open the regular season one week later, on August 25, at home against Detroit (5 p.m.).
 
Ball State Cardinals
Ball State is looking to continue its climb under Roberts, who will enter his fourth season with the program. The Cardinals improved their winning percentage for the third straight year last season, finishing at 8-7-5 overall and posting their best conference record since 2007 at 5-3-3.
 
Maimee Morris, Nicole Pembleton and Jasmine Moses highlight the group of returning players offensively, while the Cardinals will look to replace a core group of departed seniors on the back line.
 
The Cardinals will spend the early part of their season at home, playing four of their first five games in Muncie. The season-opening weekend features home games Aug. 23 versus Northern Iowa and Aug. 25 against Wisconsin-Green Bay.
 
Western Michigan Broncos
Western Michigan returns three of the four members of a back line that resulted in one of the top defenses in the MAC. Sophomores Lindsey Lee, Heather Piccariello and senior Lauren Fearday joined senior goalkeeper Michelle Watson to hold opponents to just 1.06 goals per game and four shutouts. The Broncos also return their top three leading scorers in Rachel Chaney, Diana Devukaj and Aubrey Sudomier. 
 
WMU opens the regular season at Saint Louis on Aug. 23 and host Cleveland State for its home-opener on Sunday, Sept. 1. at 1 p.m. at the recently renovated WMU Soccer Complex.
 
Northern Illinois
Head Coach John Ross and his staff, who helped orchestrate a six-match turnaround in 2012, led the Huskies to an 8-9-2 record and a Mid-American Conference Tournament berth in only their first year in charge of the program. Ross inherited a 2-15-2 squad from 2011.
 
The Huskies return 22 players, including nine starters from last season, All-MAC goalkeeper Amy Carr (Hemel Hempstead, England/Townsend Church of England). Carr finished the season with an 8-8-2 record with six shutouts to her credit and a 0.89 goals against average. Offensively, the Huskies return their top-scorer Cori Frankenberg (Appleton, Wis./Appleton East), who closed the year with four goals and assists for a total of 12 points. Frankenberg's tallies were all game-winners, which ranked her as-high-as fourth in the country in the category during 2012.
 
The Huskies will open their regular season Sunday, August 25 versus Eastern Illinois with kickoff slated for 1 p.m. Central. 
 
(First-Place votes in parentheses) 
East 
Miami – 66 (10) 
Kent State – 62 (2) 
Ohio – 40 
Akron – 34 
Buffalo – 33 
Bowling Green – 16 
West 
Toledo – 58 (4) 
Eastern Michigan – 52 (4) 
Central Michigan – 50 (3) 
Ball State – 40 (1) 
Western Michigan – 29
Northern Illinois – 23
 
MAC Tournament Champion: Miami 8, Ball State 1, Central Michigan 1, Eastern Michigan 1, Kent State 1.