2013 Season Outlook
The 2013 Rider University women’s soccer team returns 10 players, including six starters, from the winningest team in program history, and has added one of the most talented incoming classes in program history as well.
“We’ve got a very good team again this year,” said sixth-year head coach Drayson Hounsome, who guided the 2012 Broncs to a 10-4-3 record, a program-best .676 winning percentage. “We graduated 11 players, including one of the better players the program has ever had (two-time Academic All-American Abi Cottam), but we return four of the top five scorers and we’ve brought a good group of players in.”
Heading the list of returnees are seniors Jennifer Meier, Jody Sokol and Bridgette Bartkowski, junior Becca Kape and sophomore Tara Ballay.
Meier earned First Team All-MAAC honors last year as a midfielder but moves back to her nature position of forward this year. “Jenn has the experience,” Hounsome said. Meier enters her senior year fifth in career goals and fifth in career points. “She’s scored goals in big games, she can take people on, and she draws the attention of a lot of the other teams. She’ll be marked closely which will open other people up.”
Meier moved to midfield last year and was named to the Third Team NSCAA Scholar All-American team. “She will probably return to the forward line this year,” Hounsome said of his team co-captain. “We moved her last year to the midfield to help us maintain possession and we saw a major improvement in performance. We have very talented midfielders this year so now we can put her back up front where she can do more damage with her scoring ability.”
Sokol is a veteran of 55 games and has 10 goals. “Jody is looking good, probably in the best shape she has been in,” Hounsome said. “She’ll play up top and score goals. She will be a handful for the opponents’ defenses.”
Bartkowski enters her senior year sixth in Rider career assists. “Jet has come back in great shape and she is the forward who creates things for the others,” Hounsome said. “Without her the others don’t get their goals.”
Kape, a co-captain, was a high school All-American who earned MAAC All-Rookie team honors in 2010. She was a Preseason All-MAAC selection before missing 2011 with injuries. She came back last year to play in 15 games. “Becca is a very strong center back,” Hounsome said.
Ballay was the MAAC Rookie of the Year last season, finishing seventh in the MAAC in points per game. “Tara had a great first year and we’re looking for her to be in more of a defensive role this year,” Hounsome said. “Last year we needed her to play the offensive fullback role. She was recruited to be an attacking wing back so now we will transition her into that position. She will still play some time in midfield but the outlook is to have her as part of our defensive unit.”
Other key returnees include a pair of center backs, senior Carolyn Wiley and junior Katrina Seidenthal. “Wiley and Seidenthal are very strong defenders,” Hounsome said, “and will continue to lead us in the back.”
The newcomers are led by defender Heather Maierle, goalkeeper Bethany-May Howard, forwards Michele Iacono, Hollie Kelsh and Caroline Healy and midfielder Victoria Maley.
“We expect a lot from all of the newcomers,” Hounsome said. “They are a really talented group, the most talented incoming class we’ve had. They are new to the college game but they bring a significant amount of desire and experience.”
Maierle was named the CollegeSportsMadness.com Preseason Freshman of the Year in the MAAC. “Maierle is going to be a standout defender for us this year and the next four years,” Hounsome said. “She won state championships in high school as a team captain and she won a state championship with her club team as well. She plays in the highest club league in the nation.”
Maierle was a five-year starter for the Friends Academy on Long Island and led her ECNL premier team East Meadow United to the 2007 and 2011 ENYSA State Championships and in 2011 was selected to the ECNL id2 Player Development Program.
Howard was a two-time England Colleges National Team goalkeeper who was a two-time Player of the Year for Somerset and the 2012 Bridgewater College Player of the Year. She also played for Yeovil Town Ladies and was selected to the 2013 English Colleges National Team.
“Beth has been playing in the second highest women’s league in the UK, organizing 30-year olds,” Hounsome said. “If she can do that she can play here.”
Iacono was a four-year starter for Calhoun High School, earning NYSSWA First Team All-State honors, and was named the 2012 Conference IAA Player of the Year as well as the All-Class AA Player of the Year.
Kelsh competed on the English National team for three years and played for the Blackburn Rovers Ladies and England's U19 teams and was named to the English Colleges National Team.
Healy represented the Republic of Ireland in the U.17 UEFA Championships in Macedonia and Norway last year and played for DLR Waves in the National Women's League while training with the Ireland U.19 team.
Maley was a three-year starter for Massapequa High School, leading the Chiefs to three County Championships, the Long Island Championship and the 2010 New York State Championship. An All-State selection, Maley earned All-Conference, All-County and All-Long Island honors, leading her team to the 2012 County Championship. She represented Eastern New York in the Olympic Development Program.
“In the midfield Tori Maley and Holly Kelsh are going to be two of the better midfielders in the conference,” Hounsome said, “they just need some time to play together and get used to the pace of the college game. Caroline Healy, Michele Iacono and Pricilla Santos are all good attacking players.”
Santos came from Glendora (California) High School where she earned All-League honors. At the club level she played premier soccer in the Elite Clubs National League with Arsenal FC and Strikers FC and was selected to the U 17 ECNL combine.
Also among the top newcomers is midfielder Sorren Henderson who was selected to the U 17 New Zealand National Team training camp. “Sorren Henderson hasn’t played in 12 months but has looked really good right away,” Hounsome said. “I can imagine how good she’ll look after four or five weeks of training.” Henderson graduated in December and took a year off before coming to Rider.
Giving Howard competition in goal will be red-shirt freshman Vanessa Perdomo. “Perdomo has been here 12 months preparing for this,” Hounsome said. “She was good enough to play last year but we had another keeper that was good as well and we wanted to get four full years out of Vanessa. Perdomo and Howard together make a great combination. I am very confident in our goalkeepers.”
The addition of the talented incoming class of 2013 looks to balance the loss of the large graduating class of 2012. “The strength of this team is going to be the talent and the desire,” Hounsome said. “There is a reason a player represents her country on a national team. There is a reason why they played on State Championship teams. They are talented but there is also a drive and a desire and ability to know what to do to succeed.”
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will have a new look this year and with every four years the postseason tournament will be different as well.
Perennial playoff contender Loyola is gone and the conference has added Monmouth and Quinnipiac to form an 11-team league. Every four years instead of a four-team Championship tournament the entire league heads to Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Florida for the Championship tournament.
“Monmouth and Quinnipiac are very good,” Hounsome said. “Our goal is to be in the top five in the conference to avoid the first round.”
In an 11-team tournament, the bottom six teams play the first round, and those three winners play the top three teams in the second round along with the fourth and fifth place teams. “If you play in the first round your odds of winning the championships are not very good,” Hounsome said. “Top three is the best place, playing your first game against a team that played the day before. That is a huge advantage.”
The season begins with a pair of games in August, at Bucknell August 23 and at home against Bryant August 30.
“We’ve got a very good team this year and with no pressure to make the conference tournament we can take the time to make sure they are prepared for the conference season and the post-season tournament,” Hounsome said. “It is going to take time to put all the pieces together. There is loads of work to be done and with all the newcomers it is like going back to the drawing board. We won’t be hitting on all cylinders in the first few games but we’ve got a good group of players. The goal is to be playing our best when it counts the most.”