Head Coach Tracy Kerr
and the Providence College women's soccer team are excited about the team's chances of a successful 2003 season. The Friars are coming off a 8-9-2 campaign in 2002, which included their first ever victories over BIG EAST opponents Pittsburgh and Syracuse. The reason for the excitement this season stems from the wealth of talent on a young, but experienced team. The 2003 team will consist of five freshmen, seven sophomores, six juniors and four seniors.
In 2003, the Friars will rely on their offense as they compete in the always tough BIG EAST Conference. Leading the offensive attack for the Friars will be junior midfielder Maura Robertson (Wellesley, Mass.). Last season, Robertson finished first on the team in scoring with five goals and eight assists for 18 points and was named to the All-New England Team. Sophomore Kerry O'Malley (Longmeadow, Mass.) is coming off a brilliant freshman season in which she was second on the team in scoring with 13 points (four goals, five assists) on a team-high 58 shots. O'Malley was named to the All-BIG EAST Rookie Team and earned SoccerBuzz.com All-Freshman Northeast Region honors.
Last season's talented sophomore class accounted for 16 of the Friars' 24 goals. Midfielder BriAnne Bruni (Bristol, Conn.) finished third on the team in scoring with four goals and five assists for nine points. Bruni and Shannon McMorrow (Boca Raton, Fla.) were tied with a team-high two game-winning goals each. Lauren Ritchie (Sayville, N.Y.) finished the season with seven points (three goals, one assist). Veronica Bakke (Alesund, Norway) provided a spark for the team after an injury-plagued freshman season and finished with two goals for a total of four points. Kate Kearney (Glastonbury, Conn.) played in 18 of the Friars' 19 games and controlled play in the midfield. The Friars' attacking offense will be boosted by a group of incoming freshmen and upperclassmen. Gabrielle Bruni (Bristol, Conn.), sister of junior BriAnne Bruni, and sophomores Megan Cooney (Wyckoff, N.J.) and Kathryn Mahoney (Narragansett, R.I.) will each bring skill and leadership to the team. Mahoney, a walk-on, is the all-time leading goal scorer at Narragansett High with 67, while Cooney was named one of the top-20 players in New Jersey in 2001. Bruni comes to Providence from Bristol Central High School where she was named the 2002 MVP and given the Hustle award.
On the defensive side, the Friars will count on the leadership of senior back Marianna McDonald (Littleton, Colo.). McDonald is an experienced player who will provide stability for a young but talented defense. McDonald started 18 of Providence's 19 games last season. The sophomore trio of Mara McDonald (Granger, Ind.), Tomris Mesen (Fairfax Station, Va.) and Emily White (Stafford Springs, Conn.) will be asked to be more involved this season along with the three incoming defenders. The newcomers are lead by junior transfer Molly Hagstrom (Yarmouth, Maine) who played two seasons at the University of Southern Maine and was twice named First Team All-Little East. Hagstrom will be joined by freshmen Erin Mastrodonato (Rochester, N.Y.) and Leah Vieira (Rochester, N.Y.). Both players attended Greece Athena High School where they were defensive standouts. Vieira was named Monroe County Player of the Year for 2001 and 2002, while Mastrodonato earned First Team All-Monroe County during the same time frame. All three players will be expected to compete for playing time and add skill and ability to the Providence defense.
At the core of the Friars' defense will be senior goalkeeper Caroline Haines (Stillwater, Minn.). Haines, who was named to the SoccerBuzz.com All-Northeast Second Team and to the All-BIG EAST Second Team in 2002, played in all 17 games in 2002 and finished fifth in the BIG EAST in saves. She finished the year with five shutouts and was fourth in the conference with a 1.10 goals against average. Sophomore goalkeeper Caitlin Pickul (North Andover, Mass.) will battle Haines for the starting position. Last season Pickul saw action in four games and allowed only three goals. She saw her first action against Miami and made 18 saves as the Friars' lost, 2-1. Pickul earned a shutout against cross-town rival Brown in her second consecutive start. She finished the season with an .897 save percentage and a 1.17 goals against average.
Kerr believes that the 2003 team will be one of the most talented teams in her five seasons at Providence. The Friars have a combination of talent, speed, versatility, youth and experience. Providence enjoyed a strong season in 2002 and hopes to carry that momentum in to 2003. The 2003 season will kick off on Friday, August 29 as the Friars travel to New Jersey to take on the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers. Providence's first home match will take place on Friday, September 5 when they host the Quinnipiac Bobcats.