Quakers poised for strong 2012 season
WC to blend experience, youth
July 25, 2012
Sarah Watters (center) and Lauren Price (at right) are back after scoring team-leading five goals each in 2011.
A year after making their sixth consecutive appearance in the Ohio Athletic Conference Tournament, the Wilmington College Quakers are poised to take their game to the next level in 2012.
“We didn’t have as many wins last season as we would have liked, but we did get a lot of young players valuable experience,” Wilmington head coach Steve Spirk said. “Those players are now sophomores and juniors, and I think we are now prepared to have an outstanding season.”
Senior Hannah Riffel will lead Wilmington’s talented goalkeeping corps. The senior posted a 3-3-0 record and 0.81 goals-against average in 2011.
“Hannah will give us leadership. She picked up three shutouts last year and demonstrated that she is ready to face the level of competition we see on a game-by-game basis,” Spirk said.
Also back in goal is sophomore Taylor Franklin.
The Quakers’ defense will be anchored by junior Rachel Gutowski, a two-time All-OAC performer.
“Rachel is definitely the leader in our defense, but she will have solid support. Sammi Miller is coming off a good sophomore season. I feel very confident that Jen Marck, Bonnie Grace and Caroline Guindon will get good playing time back there. Our defenders work hard and will be able to get out of the back to help our attack,” Spirk said.
Lessons learned in 2011 should pay dividends for Wilmington’s midfielders. Camille Gentile (shown at left) was a 90-minute player as a freshman and will be looked upon to make things happen in 2012.
“Camille comes back with a lot of experience. Sammi Koerner has a tremendous work rate and makes things happen for us. Lauren Hamrock will come in and play key minutes. Emily Noskowiak had a good freshman season and will see important time for us. Stephanie Robinson gives us versatility with her ability to play midfield and defense,” Spirk said. “These women have worked hard in the off season. They are going to come back in great shape and be stronger and more physical.”
Last season’s team-leading scoring tandem of senior Sarah Watters and junior Lauren Price is back. Both players scored five goals in 2011 and are ready for even bigger campaigns in 2012.
“It’s good to have a combination like that coming back. I feel that Sarah can really put it all together this year. She has the experience, the maturity — all the tools to have a great senior year,” Spirk said. “Lauren has a full year of training under her belt and is playing as well as she did in high school. I think she is only going to get better.”
Other players expected to play key roles up front are Brooke Lamb, Paij Shelton and Angie Phillips.
A year after bringing in one of the program’s top freshman classes in recent years, Spirk said this year’s group of newcomers could be as good, if not better.
“Our freshman class is probably as talented we’ve had come in the last four or five years,” Spirk said. “We have people who have played very good high school and club soccer. We have 12 new players coming in, and they are all very talented.”
Freshman Lauren Lewis leads the list of potential immediate impact makers.
“Lauren has the speed and the nose for the goal that will help her score some goals for us. I see her coming in, playing and doing a great job for us,” Spirk said. “Sarah Stauffer will give us depth that we can depend on in goal. Taylor Miller is a strong defender, and Rachelle Bowen is a top-notch forward. Ashley Stockton can play midfield and defense. This is a very talented group.”
Wilmington’s schedule offers not only the grueling nine-game OAC slate, but also non-conference battles against the best of the North Coast and Heartland conferences.
“We like to play a tough non-conference schedule. This year we have a couple tournaments in Indiana where we will see teams like Rose-Hulman and Manchester. Then we come back to Ohio and play Wittenberg, Ohio Wesleyan and Wooster. You don’t always come out of those games with wins, but you definitely come out better for the experience,” Spirk said. “I think we pulled closer to the top teams in the OAC last season. We feel that we can beat anybody in the conference. You just need to be on and not make mistakes.”