CHARLESTON, S.C. - With the start of Charleston Southern's women's soccer season just three days away, it's time to take a look at the 2018 Buccaneers.
Eric Terrill, in his 24th season at CSU and the second winningest coach in Big South history with 172 victories, will have the luxury of veteran leaders that includes a class of 10 seniors and the infusion of young talent in the form of 13 freshmen. The Bucs will be a deeper team this fall, enabling the coaching staff to rotate more players in and keep them fresh as the long season progresses.
"Our seniors are a hard-nosed group that provides us a lot of experience and leadership," said Terrill. "At the same time our freshmen bring spice to the game with their pace, vision and athleticism. I am excited to see how everyting comes together."
Seniors Alyssa Dellacqua and Jazmin Gonzalez are expected to share time during the non-conference portion of the schedule with the one playing the best likely to get the majority of action once the Big South slate gets underway.
Dellacqua played every minute last year and led the Big South with 5.78 saves per game while posting a 1.33 goals against average. She enters her senior season with 217 saves, the fifth most in school history. Gonzalez erased the gap with an outstanding preseason and begins the campaign on even footing with Dellacqua.
This is the deepest position on the team with three seniors, a sophomore who entered the starting lineup at the beginning of her debut season and three freshmen who could all break into the rotation.
Terrill believes that the combination of long time starters Grace Clark, Emilie Gilbert and Taylor Francis as well as Juliana Barbaccia gives the Bucs one of the most talented back fours in the Big South. Clark and Francis have started all 54 games over the past three seasons while Gilbert has started 36 times and was on the all-conference second team last year. Barbaccia started all 18 games last year and was on the all-rookie squad.
With this quartet leading the way, the Bucs allowed only 25 goals last year including just 11 in nine conference games. They were rarely off the field, which is where the addition of freshmen Siera Kirby, Isabelle Mathews and Katie Wysong come into play. The threesome all played well in CSU's scrimmage at Miami, and the playing time they get will be a huge boon to the program not only this year but going forward.
Sophomore Emily Mullner will also be in the mix for playing time as she tries to work her way back from an injury that slowed her during the preseason.
Senior Sidney Doherty is the leader at defensive midfield after ranking second on the Bucs with eight points on three goals and two assists last season. She built on that with a great spring, came back fit in the fall and is one of the hardest workers on the team. Freshmen Maddie Reilly and Mason Pinkerton stood out in both scrimmages and will have an impact this year.
Sophomore Kylie Doster saw some playing time last year and looked strong during the summer as she competes for the starting role at attacking center midfielder. She will likely split time there with freshman Dakota Fiedler, and senior McKenzie Davis will be available as her injury situation dicates. Davis has been a reliable player during a career that includes 31 starts.
The coaching staff will have a lot of options at outside midfielder and most will play since Terrill's system requires them to put forth maximum effort which necessitates the need for depth.
Seniors Anna Menendez and Addie Bokelman, juniors Allie Crossland and Mallory Foster and sophomore Kat Klingensmith have all seen a good deal of action during their careers. They will be pushed for playing time by a group of athletic, speedy freshmen that includes Erin Rush, Riley Rumbley, Danielle Maggio and Emily Kifer.
Motley, who originally came to CSU as a walk-on, moved into the starting lineup midway through last season and scored her first career goal in a win over UNC Asheville. Robinson is very athletic, and as she becomes more comfortable in her role could emerge as one of the better players in the Big South.
Gompers may be the player who is the most capable of scoring goals in bunches as she demonstrated during her high school and club seasons. She will get playing time right away as the Bucs look to improve their offensive attack.