FLORENCE, S.C. – The Francis Marion University women’s soccer team will open its 2010 season on Friday evening (Aug. 20) at High Point University. The match will kick-off at 7 p.m. at the Richard F. Vert Track and Soccer Stadium.
Second-year Francis Marion head coach Joel Person welcomes back nine letterwinners, including five starters, from last season’s 3-12-1 squad. High Point is led by former FMU head coach Marty Beall and the Panthers were 7-15-2 last season while winning the Big South Conference Tournament and losing a 1-0 decision at the University of North Carolina in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Patriots are 2-0 all-time against High Point, winning a pair of 2-1 overtime decisions in 2007 at home and in 2006 on the road.
Francis Marion will also play at East Carolina University on Sunday afternoon and at UNC Wilmington on Wednesday evening before playing its home opener on Friday, Aug. 27 against Radford University at 4 p.m.
Francis Marion is entering its fourth season as an NCAA Division I independent. Its 2010 schedule lists 18 matches, including road contests at pre-season Top 25 Duke University and at Oklahoma University. The Patriots will play six home matches, including an Oct. 24 match-up with Clemson University.
“We have managed a lot of productive training sessions this fall and are ready for the season to start,” Person said. “The pre-season has gone well. We are further along than last year and that shows the progress we are making with our program.
“We are young, as evidenced by the fact that we started six freshmen and two sophomores in each of our exhibition matches. However, I have been very pleased with the way the team has messed together. The mix of old and young players is working well, and our team chemistry has been very positive.”
Among the key returnees are senior back Rebecca Nelson, junior goalkeeper Casey Durham, junior forward Kiley Williams, junior defender Erin Breen, sophomore back/forward Rebeccah Hoekstra, and sophomore forward Kelly Kady.
Durham played the majority of minutes in goal last season and registered a 2.37 goals against average, a .678 save percentage, and 61 saves in 13 matches. She has five career shutouts.
“We have the luxury of having several goalkeepers on this year’s roster,” Person added. “It has been a good competition during the preseason. Durham and junior transfer Lauren Vetock have emerged as the top two, and that gives us a pair of quality options.” Vetock transferred from Shepherd University, where last season she had a 2.11 goals against average, a .785 save percentage, and 135 saves in 19 matches.
Senior midfielder Kayla Denmyer and freshman walk-on Megan Roberts (Beaufort, SC) may also don the gloves in goal.
Other field returnees include senior Elisabeth Dobek and sophomore midfielders Caitlyn Margusity and Megan Ogiltree.
Hoekstra (2 goals, 2 assists) and Williams (2 goals, 1 assist) are the leading returning scorers.
Person is also looking to transfer Adrienna Osorio-McKenna (Florence, SC), Kady, and freshman Michelle Brown (Waxhaw, NC) as possible goal scorers this fall. Osorio-McKenna is a former West Florence High School standout who originally attended Brigham Young University and later Salt Lake Community College. “Although not a returnee, Adrienna has assumed one of the leadership roles on the team – both on and off the field,” said Person. “She is one of our best all-around athletes, has good technical skills, and strikes the ball well with both feet.
“Hoekstra and Nelson will both play along the back line. Hoekstra is very athletic and brings good energy to our attack. She will be hard to beat in the defensive half and could also see playing time up front at a striker spot.” According to Person, Nelson has played well during the pre-season. She has started 27 matches over her three seasons wearing red, white, and blue.
“We have a very challenging schedule. With so much youth, it may be a learning process, but our goal is to get better every time we step on the field,” Person said. “This is my first true recruiting class and we feel as though we have laid a solid foundation for the program. I am very excited about the future.”
Other freshman that Person has signaled out as possible key contributors in 2010 are midfielder Jordan Allen (York, SC), midfielder Yasmin Bunter (Fleet, England), midfielder Rebecca Dietrich (Cincinnati, OH), back Deanna Hunt (Charleston, SC), midfielder Mariel Kaney (Edinburgh, Scotland), midfielder Teri Kourtis (Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada), back Kristina Marra (Oakville, Ontario, Canada), and back Amelia Wallace-Zocher (Chesapeake, VA).
Kaney has international experience playing with Scotland’s Under 19 squad, while Bunter has played with the Fulham reserves squad. Allen is a product of the CESA program in the upstate.
Despite a slow start in 2009, the Patriots won two of their final three matches. Three of the team’s defeats were by one goal.
Among the other opponents on the 2010 slate are road matches at the University of North Florida, Jacksonville University, Western Carolina University, UNC Asheville, Presbyterian College, Coastal Carolina University, and Longwood University. In addition to the home contests with Radford and Clemson, Francis Marion will also entertain Wofford College (Aug. 29), East Tennessee State University (Sept. 5), Charlotte (Sept. 26), and South Carolina State University (Oct. 2). FMU owns an all-time home record of 95-21-7.
The Patriots own an all-time overall record of 168-91-12, including 12 seasons with double-digit victories.