Youth and experience is key to women's soccer season

While the Jeffs will surely miss the four graduated seniors from last year’s team, one comforting fixture for the Jeffs will be 25-year veteran head coach, Michelle Morgan. With a career record of 206-111-48 and a 2001 New England Regional Coach of the Year award on her resume, Morgan knows what it takes to bring the Jeffs back into the national spotlight. This past winter Morgan was given the prestigious honor of the 2002 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Women’s Committee Award of Excellence.

The biggest holes that the Jeffs need to fill will be in net and on defense. First-Team All-NESCAC goaltender and co-captain Brooke Diamond ’03 provided superb leadership for the young Jeffs last season, acting as a field general from her goalie position. Diamond, who was also an All-American lacrosse goalie for the Jeffs’ NCAA Div. III National Championship team this past spring, was a four-year starter for the Jeff soccer team and notched seven shutouts during her impressive senior year. The only other senior who saw extended playing time last season was Katelyn McCabe ’03. She started every game at defense. McCabe was a Second-Team All-NESCAC selection as a senior and was third on the team in scoring as a first-year.

Last season, the Jeffs were a streaky bunch. They began the season by winning a couple close 2-0 games and then proceeded to lose their following two by 1-0 margins. The team rebounded, sneaking by their next two opponents 1-0, behind Diamond’s third and fourth shutouts of the young season. At 4-2 (2-1), the Jeffs were in perfect position to make a mid-season run.

However, the Jeffs got outplayed against nationally-ranked Bowdoin and Wheaton Colleges. With their season on the downswing, the Jeffs revamped their lineup, making some midfield and defensive changes that proved to be just what the doctor ordered.

With new life, the Jeffs rolled over Middlebury, Colby and Mt. Holyoke Colleges and Wesleyan University, outscoring their opponents by a combined 13-3 margin.

“We changed our back four and they were very successful,” said Morgan. “It took us a while to figure out what the young players could do for us. Early on because we lost Kate Shipley ’03 to injury, we were playing as individuals, but we started to play as a team and that was a big turning point.”

After finishing the season with two ties, the Jeffs lost a heartbreaker to Connecticut College in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament, ending their six-game unbeaten streak and leaving the Jeffs to look forward to avenging their abrupt departure from the postseason.

Returning to Amherst this fall will be an abundance of young, but experienced, players. With so few seniors last year, many first- and second-years were thrown into action prematurely and had to learn on the fly.

Lyn Wojcik ’06, Kaitlin Hill ’06 and Allyson Heady ’06 all received ample playing time during their rookie seasons and will try again to anchor the backfield. Along with Mary Sarro-Waite ’05, they will most likely be protecting their classmate and the only returning goalie Lauren Coape-Arnold ’06. Coape-Arnold saw limited playing time last fall but impressed the coaching staff by allowing only one goal in two games.

“We have Lauren, who we hope will come back ready to step in if need be. We also have two others coming in, Piper Crowell [’07] and an unexpected transfer, Emily “Scout” Durwood [’06], from St. Joseph’s College in Missouri,” said Morgan.

Offensively, the Jeffs will undoubtedly rely on last season’s leading scorers, Ashley Harmeling ’05 and Adrienne Showler ’05. In fact, the Jeffs return every goal scorer from last year’s team. Harmeling notched nine goals in her first season of Amherst action after transferring from Harvard University and Showler contributed seven as well. Both players deservingly represented Amherst as Second-Team All-NESCAC selections.

Margarete Chute ’06 made quite an impact during her first season, providing endless energy for the Jeffs. In addition, junior Tracy Montign will be relied upon for her speed and footwork as well as leadership as a third-year starter.

Kate Shipley ’03, a four-year stalwart on the soccer team, will be assisting Coach Morgan on the sidelines this year. Shipley should be a valuable asset to the team.

“Kate has great knowledge about the sport of soccer and has received extensive training outside of Amherst as well,” said Morgan. “She’s going to be very valuable to me in setting practices. She knows the players so well, which should help tactically.”

The Jeffs open the season Sept. 7 against Conn. College, but will eye a late season matchup with Williams on Oct. 25 as a important contest.

“The younger players continue to come in with more extensive experience and, as the seniors get older, they tend to put their energies into different areas. Our seniors should be good leaders, but we also have young players who add to that dynamic,” said Morgan.