Women's soccer looks to defend AE title in 2013
Aug 20, 2013
Stony Brook, N.Y. - After hoisting the America East championship trophy nearly 10 months ago, the Stony Brook women's soccer team and head coach Sue Ryan are ready to begin their title defense in 2013. The Seawolves return 20 letterwinners and welcome eight newcomers as the new campaign opens Friday at Seton Hall.
Picked second in the America East preseason coaches' poll, Stony Brook brings back a strong nucleus of players at every position in 2013. After securing several strong results in the spring season, the Seawolves appear primed and ready to challenge for a second straight bid to the NCAA Tournament.
"As the reigning conference champions, we're very excited to defend our title this season," Ryan explained. "Our expectation is to win again and make it back to the NCAA Tournament. I'm also excited about the makeup of this team as we have a great group of core players returning who will provide strong leadership all over the field."
One of the highest-scoring teams in the America East last year, Stony Brook should once again feature some offensive firepower in 2013. Leading the line at center forward will be senior Larissa Nysch (Dresher, Pa.), who paced the team with nine goals in 2012. A 2013 tri-captain, Nysch needs just four more tallies to break into the top 10 in all-time goals at Stony Brook.
Fellow tri-captain Shannon Grogan (Eastampton, N.J.) will join Nysch on the front line and could be primed for a breakout year after turning in several strong showings in the preseason. Grogan, who featured prominently as a substitute last season, will compete for regular playing time after the graduation of forward Taryn Schoenbeck.
Senior Queli Ornelas (Palm Harbor, Fla.) and juniors Megan Rea (East Haven, Conn.) and Eliza Mendoza (Fontana, Calif) will lend experience to the unit and will also be in the mix for extended playing time. Sophomores Sarah Darmanin (Miami, Fla.) and Raven Edwards (West Orange, N.J.) will miss the upcoming season due to injury and will look to return to match fitness in 2014. Darmanin scored the game-winning goal in the America East Semifinals at Maine last year, while Edwards finished third on the team with five goals in 2012.
The attack will also be strengthened by the addition of three freshmen, Lindsay Hutchinson (Millersville, Pa.), Maxie New (Clayton, N.J.) and Leah Yurko (Cumberland, Md.). The trio combined to score more than 200 goals in their high school careers and will be looking to contribute at the collegiate level right off the bat.
The Seawolves' midfield will take on a new look in 2013 following the departure of four-year starter Sa'sha Kershaw, who left the program as Stony Brook's leading scorer in the America East era (since 2001) with 44 points.
In Kershaw's absence, the torch will be passed to a new era of midfield leaders, led by junior Regan Bosnyak (West Hartford, Conn.) and sophomore Tessa Devereaux (Fayetteville, N.Y.). Both players started all 22 games last year and combined for nine assists, including seven by Devereaux, which tied for the most in the America East.
Junior Christina Casamassina (Farmingville, N.Y.) and sophomore Danielle Fuller (Staten Island, N.Y.) will also compete for extended playing time in the midfield. Casamassina owns 10 career starts, while Fuller chipped in two assists in 20 games as a freshman last year.
Sophomore Emily Murrer (Aptos, Calif.) and newcomer Elise Pratt (Sicklerville, N.J.) will add further depth to the unit. Murrer appeared in six games in 2012, while Pratt joins the fold after being named first-team All-Conference all four years at Timber Creek High School.
The defensive unit should be one of the team's strengths entering the new season. Senior Ahriel Fernandez (East Haven, Conn.), a third-team NSCAA All-Northeast Region selection, will feature in the center of the defense after helping the team post five clean-sheets a season ago. Fernandez was instrumental in shutting down the high-powered Hartford offense in the 2012 America East championship game and was named to All-Tournament Team as a result.
Senior tri-captain Caitlin Pfeiffer (Holland, N.Y.) will join Fernandez on the back line and should feature prominently at the right fullback position. Pfeiffer started all 22 games last year and posted three points on one goal and one assist.
Sophomores Stella Norman (Castle Rock, Colo.) and Priscilla Wiggins (Princeton, N.J.) are also set to play major roles on defense this season. Norman registered six points in 21 games last year, while Wiggins chipped in two goals in a more offensive role. A left-footed player, Wiggins will likely shift to left fullback this year, while Norman could see more time in a central role.
Senior Julianne Palm (Stilwell, Kansas), who has 35 career starts, will provide additional experience to the defensive unit, while newcomers Hannah Groth (Cedarburg, Wis.) and Christina Fluman (Pittsford, N.Y.) will look to add additional depth. Groth was named first-team All-Conference in three seasons at Cedarburg High School, while Fluman was a three-year Olympic Development Program (ODP) participant at the state level.
Freshman Lauren Kovalchuk (Belle Vernon, Pa.) will be sidelined due to an injury sustained in the preseason, while sophomore Megan Hallworth (Simsbury, Conn.) continues to rehabilitate following offseason knee surgery.
Entering 2013, Stony Brook should be in good hands with incumbent starter Ashley Castanio (Oceanside, N.Y.) returning to mind the net. Castanio played every minute in goal last year (2108:42) and posted a 1.20 GAA and five shutouts. Castanio's 2,109 minutes played ranked 12th in the nation last year, while her 120 saves ranked as the 16th-most nationally.
Redshirt junior Danielle Singson (Deer Park, N.Y.) also returns after completing her first season at Stony Brook last year. Singson played her freshman season at Rider University and posted an impressive 1.13 GAA in 19 games.
Freshman Kim Comstock (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) also enters the mix after a standout career at Comsewogue High School. A four-year starter, Comstock was named All-County all four years and participated in the ODP at the state and regional levels.
Stony Brook will once again play a challenging schedule in 2013, highlighted by matchups against BIG EAST foe, Seton Hall (Aug. 23), and Pac 12 opponent, Colorado (Sept. 20).
The Seawolves will also face a slew of regional rivals, including Ivy League foe, Yale (Sept. 6), as well as a challenging eight-game America East slate. Stony Brook is scheduled to play UMass Lowell, Albany, UMBC and New Hampshire at home, and Vermont, Hartford, Binghamton and Maine on the road.
"What sticks out right away about our schedule is the trip to Colorado," Ryan said. "We're going to have to deal with a tournament atmosphere out there, as well as the altitude. This will really stretch our abilities and, down the line, if we're fortunate enough to make it through the America East, this is the type of matchup we could have in the NCAA Tournament. It's our job as coaches to make sure the team is put in the best position to be successful and prepare them for the challenges ahead."