WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Gallaudet University women’s soccer program had a breakout season in 2009 as the Bison recorded six wins, all at home, with a fairly young team. That team returns with an extra year of collegiate athletic experience under their belts and are ready to tackle the 2010 season as Gallaudet prepares to make its debut in the North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC).
“I am very excited for this year,” said Gallaudet coach Sarah Gumina, who is entering her fourth year at the University and her third straight as head coach. She was the head coach of the Bison for one season in 2002. “The new players that have joined have a lot of potential. They raise the bar even more and are challenging the veterans. There is competition within the team.”
Gumina has a trio of forwards to work with in 2010 led by sophomore Shaq McDonough (Pembroke, Mass.) who led the team in scoring with 12 goals and two assists last season en route to being named the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) Rookie of the Year. Fellow sophomore Johanna Arrigo (Ewing, N.J.) was the second leading scorer last year as she scored seven goals and tallied three assists in her rookie season. Arrigo was one of only two players to start in all 19 games last season. Freshman Lauren Hostovsky (Medfield, Mass.) is a new face to the program and is one of two new players to join from The Learning Center for the Deaf, the same school McDonough hails from.
“There is competition for the starting roles (two spots) at the forward position. I am confident with the talent and depth we have at the forward position,” said Gumina.
Senior Virginia Keeler (Ann Arbor, Mich.) is back for her last year in the Buff and Blue and will head up the deep midfield unit where Gumina has seven different players to choose from. Keeler finished last season with two goals and one assist as she battled injuries as she only saw action in 13 games (11 starts).
“Virginia leads the midfield as one of the two seniors on the team. She will control the tempo of the game. She is the heartbeat of this team,” said Gumina.
Sophomore Maddie Morgan (Hockessin, Del.) had a stellar freshman season as she tallied two goals and two assists to finish with six points, third most on the team, in 17 games (14 starts). Morgan, a left-foot midfielder, will start on the outside for the Bison but will need to up her production this season.
“I hope she feels the sense of urgency that she wants to put the ball in the back of the net. She has the potential [to be great], she just needs the confidence in herself,” said Gumina. “We have a common goal here and I know she shares the same goal in reaching the postseason.”
Fellow sophomore Tiffany Narciso (North Wildwood, N.J.) and Maggie Hoyt (Edgecomb, Maine) both recorded a goal last season and will use their game experience to help advance the midfield in 2010. New faces include sophomore Taryn Philippi (St. Cloud, Minn.) and freshman Monique Balcarcel (Lansing, Mich.) and junior Taylor Borucki (Spring Hill, Kan.) help sure up the depth for the unit.
Gone from the Bison defense in 2010 are two starters in Nora Torres and Aimee Sever as Gallaudet will need to plug in new players and hope returning players can step into those vacancies. Junior Janaee Cobbs (Sacramento, Calif.) is the top defender back as she saw action in 18 games and started 17.
“Janaee is going to be a crucial part in leading the defense,” said Gumina.
Sophomore Connor Crawford (Palatka, Fla.) logged a lot of time on defense last season as she saw action in every game and started 18 of them. Gumina hopes she can count on senior Brittainy Payne (Pine Hill, N.J.), who was plagued with injuries last season. Freshman Lauren Sprague (Grafton, Mass.) had a strong preseason camp and should fill on of the starting positions in 2010. Sophomore Janna DiBiase (Fishers, Ind.) will also see action on the field.
“I am a little worried about the defense but I think once the new players adjust things will work out,” said Gumina. “Someone needs to take a lead on the field. The ball needs to stop at the defense and not just pelt the goalkeeper the entire game.”
Sophomore goalie Kara Gulvas (Crown Point, Ind.) is back to anchor the defense for the Bison in 2010. As a freshman Gulvas started 18-of-19 games and logged 1,330 minutes in net for the Buff and Blue. She stopped 198 shots (.762 save percentage) and posted a 6-11-1 record and had three shutouts. Gulvas’ save total in a single-season of 198 ranks fourth all-time in CAC history.
“I think Kara was a crucial part of the whole team last year. I know she has been working hard this summer,” said Gumina. “She is always going to play a vital role on this team because she leads the defense. She is in the process of being more assertive on the field in communicating her defense. With two of our starters gone from last year she needs to take the lead.”
Gumina added a new goalkeeper coach this season in Kati Jo Spisak, a professional women’s soccer player who recently played for the Washington Freedom. The Texas A&M graduate started all four years for the Aggies in net where she was a three-time All-Big 12 first team selection. Spisak helped to lead A&M to three Elite Eight appearances in the NCAA Division I women’s soccer tournament and was a two-time captain for the Aggies. She was also a four-time NSCAA All-Region selection and earned All-American honors in 2003.
“Kati [as our new goalkeeper coach] is going to help Kara a lot in building her confidence,” said Gumina.
GU will kick-off the 2010 season on Sunday, September 5, with a short trip north to Washington Adventist University for a non-conference game against the NCAA Division II program. Last season, Gallaudet split its two-game series with the Shock. The Bison home opener will be Friday, September 10, under the lights at Hotchkiss Field against College of Notre Dame (Md.) at 6 p.m. Randolph College comes to town two days later for an afternoon game. After a quick road trip to Mary Baldwin College (September 16) the Bison prepare to make their North Eastern Athletic Conference debut. GU will see how they measure up in the new conference as the Bison host Penn St.-Harrisburg (September 18) the defending conference champions. GU plays one final non-conference game against Christendom (September 22) before heading into the bulk of its NEAC schedule. The Bison will play back-to-back games against Wells (September 25) and Keuka (September 26) at home.
“We really needs the fans to come out and support us in September to help our team spirit and motivation to win the games at home and take that with us on the road through the month of October,” said Gumina.
The month of October finds the Bison on the road against SUNY Cobleskill (October 2), SUNYIT (October 3), Wilson (October 6) and College of St. Elizabeth (October 10) to start the new month. Gallaudet returns home to host Morrisville State (October 16) and Cazenovia (October 17) before hitting the road for one final road trip in the regular-season. The Bison head to Pennsylvania to face Lancaster Bible (October 21), Penn St.-Berks (October 23) and Penn St.-Abington (October 24). Homecoming Weekend finds the Buff and Blue hosting Salem International University from West Virginia on October 29 under the lights at Hotchkiss for a 7 p.m. game.
Gallaudet has its eyes on the NEAC tournament, which will be held on November 6-7, as the top six teams make the postseason tourney.
“I am expecting the team to finish in the top 50 percent in the NEAC this year and our goal is postseason play,” said Gumina.
Gallaudet will have a chance to see where they stand early on in the season but with the talent returning and being added to the team the Bison should feel confident heading into their new conference. GU has its eye on the postseason tournament and the Bison know they need to finish in the top six to have a shot.
“We are definitely moving in the right direction and getting the right caliber of players in here so that makes me excited about rebuilding this program and getting Gallaudet on the map and recognized at the NCAA Division III level. I am excited to see what this year has in store,” said Gumina.