2013 SUNY Potsdam Women's Soccer Preview
The 2013 edition of the SUNY Potsdam women's soccer team will be one of the youngest in program history and in the nation. This year's Bears will feature no seniors and just four juniors along with 15 new faces. Third-year head coach Mark Misiak understands the challenge, but is excited about the opportunity to build a new squad.
"It's fun in the sense that we can mold these players and we hope that they can learn our system quickly and have them do things our way," said Misiak. "In the same breath there are going to be some growing pains for sure. They will be very green. So it's important for all of our players to be prepared to jump right in the fire. We'll rely heavily on the few returners that we have to really set the tone for how to go about things."
The Bears will miss the offense of Heather Johnson and Ashley Thayer and the leadership of Alissa Tischler and Stephanie Cox, but new junior captain Kate Clauss and junior vice captain Kristin Webster have stepped up to lead their teammates.
Misiak has also added a very experienced assistant coach in Lauren Mackay. Mackay comes to the Bears after spending three seasons as the girls varsity coach at Stillwater (N.Y.) High School.
"Lauren is very professional and very knowledgeable," Misiak said. "Her playing and coaching background are going to serve her very well. I think that everything that Lauren brings to the table is going to be a huge benefit to our players. They'll really enjoy working with her on a daily basis."
Of the six strikers on the roster, four are back from last season. Sophomore Erin McClusky played in all 18 games in 2012 with 16 starts and notched a goal and an assist for three points.
"Erin played better and better as the year went on last season," said Misiak. "She understood the nuances of playing forward in college. So we're looking for Erin to have a really solid sophomore campaign."
Junior Nina Komosinski and sophomores Brenna Vukelic and Ally Blazey are also back. Komosinski scored a goal in 15 games, Vukelic did the same in 12 and Blazey saw action in 15 contests.
Misiak is excited about the potential of his two newcomers, freshmen Hailey Hollenbeck and Alexis Beach.
"Hailey went through a disappointing knee injury last season," Misiak said. "But she's back to full fitness now. She's a natural goal scorer and we're going to rely on Hailey to score 15-20 goals for us. And Alexis is extremely quick. We're going to look for her to run behind defenses and open things up for us that way. Being a local kid, it's going to be fun for her to compete in front of her friends and family."
Juniors Clauss and Webster are back with sophomores Jess Sterns and Bri McClusky to lead a solid midfield corps that is joined by four fresh faces. Clauss and Webster each started all 18 games for the Bears last season, totaling four (1g, 2a) and two points (2a), respectively. Sterns started all 16 games she played and contributed a goal and an assist. McClusky played in all but one of Potsdam's 18 games.
"Kate is going to be an important part of our attack," said Misiak. "We're going to look to her to play between the lines and score some more goals. Kristen has blossomed in the holding midfield role. She played there all last spring and did a great job in the number six spot. She's really important in our team's overall balance. She distributes the ball so well. Jess is a great attacking threat. She loves to take on players one-on-one."
Among the new Bear midfielders, freshman Kaylen Van Wagner and junior Keely Sammon stand out.
"Kaylen can hit a ball 70 yards on a rope with both feet," Misiak said. "She's going to be the focal point of our attacking set pieces to help us score some more goals. Keely is a transfer from Herkimer Community College. Her best attribute right now is her experience. She can help our younger players transition from high school soccer to college soccer."
Massena native Steffanie Premo along with sophomore Mackenzie Cotter give Potsdam even more options at midfield.
Four sophomores and a junior return on defense for the Bears and are joined by five rookies. Sophomore Summer Bader started eight contests and notched a goal in 2012, while her classmate Chloe Hay started every one of the team's 18 games and recorded an assist. Sophomore Marissa Skaczkowski played in 17 games with four starts, while junior Alli Cleaver made 10 starts a year ago. Sophomore Cassandra McNitt played in 12 contests.
"Summer will be an important player because of her physical presence," said Misiak. "We need her to be a more vocal leader back there, which is something I know she can do. Chloe will be at left back and has a natural advantage on that side being left-footed. Although she is a great defender, we can really look to her being an attacking presence as well. She had a fantastic season last year and probably played the most minutes. We need her to pick up where she left off. Marissa is going to be somebody we're going to rely on heavily because she's just so versatile. She can play outside back, center back and midfield. She just has a fantastic engine. She never stops working and that's infectious for the whole team."
Freshmen Alex Guidarelli, Amanda Peterson and Hannah Keggins headline the newcomers in the defensive zone.
"Alex, who comes from the Cortlandt Venom is a good solid soccer player," Misiak said. "She's good with her feet and good on the ball. She can do a lot of different things to help our team. Amanda has a great soccer IQ and reads the game so well. Hannah is super quick back there and will be difficult for attackers to beat her one-on-one."
Sara Livecchi and another former Massena Red Raider, Kaleigh Zappia, round out the Bears defense.
Between the pipes, Potsdam will rely on freshman Lauren Haase to take the starting role and fellow first-year keeper and Parishville native Michaela Cole to back her up.
"Lauren is our starting goalkeeper and she is very capable," said Misiak. "I'm supremely confident in Lauren's ability to step in right away and be the backbone of our defense. She grew up playing for a great club and a great high school. We have no concerns about her stepping in right away and becoming a force in goal for us. Michaela has just stepped into a goalkeeping position with our team. She understood that we needed some security back there and has selflessly done what's best for the team."
The Bears open the season on Aug. 31-Sept. 1 with pair of challenging non-conference contests as they host the Collegiate Village Cup. They kick off the SUNYAC gauntlet on Sept. 28, with a home contest against Plattsburgh. Potsdam will face all three local colleges- Clarkson, SUNY Canton and St. Lawrence, at Maxcy's Turf Field this year.
"The local games are something we're really going to focus on," Misiak added. "It's going to be nice to have all the local games here at Potsdam. We look forward to all our fans and their fans coming out and making those games a great event for the whole community."
The 2013 campaign officially starts on Saturday, August 31, when the Bears host New England College at 6:30 p.m. in the first round of the Collegiate Village Cup.