WASHINGTON – The Gallaudet University women's soccer team enters the 2014 season returning eight players from last year's team. New head coach Liza Offreda hopes a newfound attitude and added chemistry will carry them through their non-conference and North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) matches.
The Bison enter the new campaign after they posted a 2-14-2 overall record last season and a 1-9-1 record in the conference. Looking to improve on last season Offreda will rely on the leadership of their two senior captains, Elena Ciccarelli (Whitesboro, N.Y.) and Sofia Lindevall (Stockholm, Sweden).
"Our goals this year include a new beginning where we aim for a new program and a winning record going forward," said Offreda.
Here is a breakdown of the 2014 Bison women's soccer team.
Lindevall, who started 17 games and was the team leader in both goals (six) and points (12) last season, will lead the offense for the Bison this season. Add freshmen players Anastasia Murray (Raleigh, N.C.), Sabina Shysh (Tucson, Ariz.) and Justina Ercolino (Milton, Ontario) and the offensive attack for the Bison could be a major threat against opponents.
Returning back to the field this season is junior midfielder Katie Benz (Ottawa, Canada), who last played in 2012 and posted two goals for and started seven games for the Bison that season. Her return should add another dynamic to the playing field that the Bison missed last season.
"I look forward to when Katie is back to 100 percent because she has the ability to change the game dramatically," said Offreda.
Other players to look for in the Bison potential attack are Megan Calik (Conyers, Ga.), who scored two goals last season, Sarah Dolphin (Binghamton, N.Y.) returns after a year of hiatus and Christine Keller (Carlsbad, Calif.), who started in nine games last season.
Captain defenseman Ciccarelli, who started all 18 games last season, will lead a youthful defensive unit this season for the Bison.
"I expect Elena Ciccarelli to lead the newly formed defense in order for us to become a strong team," said Offreda.
Ciccarelli will lead junior newcomer Victoria Thompson (Harrodsburg, Ky.), sophomores Ashleigh Weatherholtz (Front Royal, Va.), who also started all 18 games last season, and Nicole Smith (St. Louis, Mo.), who stared 15 games.
Losing all-conference selection Kara Gulvas will be a tough loss for the Bison this season but Offreda has all the all the confidence in her junior goalkeeper Jennifer Livengood (Jacksonville, Fla.).
"I expect Jennifer to step up and maximize her potential as a talented goalkeeper," said Offenda. Livengood, who had 34 saves and a save percentage of .596 percent will play a major role in the Bison success this season.
Thompson will serve as Livengood's backup.
The Bison will open up their season with a home game against cross-town rivals Trinity Washington University on Friday, Aug. 29, at Hotchkiss Field. GU then hits the road for a three-game road stint, which includes its conference opener against Penn St.-Abington on Sept. 6.
The following weekend the Bison are back at Hotchkiss Field to take on Wells College and Keuka College. After the small home stay, the Bison are back on the road for two conference games, which includes 2013 NEAC champions, Penn St.-Berks.
GU will return home for four games, three of which will be conference games, against Cazenovia College (Sept. 27), Morrisville State College (Sept. 28) and Wilson College (Oct. 4).
After the four-game stay the Bison are back on the road for four-conference games, before ending their season against Penn College on Oct. 24 under the lights at 6 p.m. on Hotchkiss Field.
The 2014 soccer season begins a new chapter in Bison women's soccer history as Offreda takes over. The Bison face a tough task with a young team but finding the right attitude and team chemistry will go a long way in the success GU will see this season.
"With a healthy team, we can truly test the other conference teams as well," said Offreda.
2014 Gallaudet Women's Soccer