BANGOR, Maine — Husson University women’s soccer coach Keith Bosley said he is “cautiously optimistic” about this season after a breakthrough 2008 campaign.
His Eagles notched their first ever NCAA Division III Tournament win, 2-0, over Norwich University (Vt.) before the nation’s top-ranked team, Williams College (Mass.), beat them 3-0 in the second round.
Meanwhile, the Husson University men’s team will be young but coach Seth Brown said his Eagles possess plenty of “athleticism” and feels “this is the most technical team I’ve had in my four years.”
The Husson women open at home against the University of Southern Maine today at 4 p.m. while the men travel to take on NAIA National Tournament contender, the University of Maine-Fort Kent at 4:30 p.m.
The Husson women gained a lot of confidence from last year’s NCAA Tournament showing, with nine starters returning, they would like to go even further this season.
“We learned last year that we can compete with anybody, even the number one team in the country,” said senior midfielder Amy Sanz, one of four captains.
“We have a real strong team and we have better depth than we’ve ever had before,” said 12th-year head coach Bosley, whose Eagles will be gunning for their fourth straight North Atlantic Conference championship and fourth consecutive season with 14 or more wins.
Husson finished 16-5 last season.
“There will be 20 of us fighting for a starting position every game,” said senior midfielder Kylan Smith from Presque Isle, another of the captains. “We’ve got experience and some really strong new kids between transfers and freshmen who can step right in and take a spot.”
“We had our Green and Gold scrimmage and both teams would be competitive in our conference,” said senior fullback Caitlyn Butterfield from Gorham.
The one question mark will be in goal where senior Jenn Plourde from Howland and junior Rozlyn Petersen from Newport will try to fill the shoes left by the departure of All-NAC first-teamer Tatyana Wolterbeek.
“I’m real pleased with both of them,” said Bosley. “But there is a little bit of an unknown.”
The goalkeepers may not have a lot to do because the Eagles outscored their opponents 87-24 a year ago.
They will have a solid trio of backs in front of them with three-year starter Butterfield (2 goals, 1 assist), a first-team All-NAC pick, manning the center back spot in the three-back alignment. Presque Isle junior Jana Clukey will be the left back and the right back could be Van Buren junior Megan Lajoie, Ellsworth freshman Maggie Harding or sophomore Katelyn Cloutier (4 goals, 1 assist). Sophomore Alyssa Bonsaint of Kittery will also see duty in the back.
If Lajoie doesn’t start in the back, she will start up front. She was the team’s second-leading scorer last year with 14 goals and 6 assists and was a first team All-NAC choice.
Sanz, who had four goals and an assist, and Smith (2 assists), form an impressive presence in the center of the midfield.
“This will be their third year starting as a combination in the midfield. They’ve grown to know how to manage a game,” said Bosley.
Bates College transfer Amanda Gifford from Lee and speedster Alexandra Laniewski from Scarborough, who played in 16 games for the University of Vermont last fall, will further enhance the midfield and returnees Katie McLaughlin from Winslow and Michelle Manning from Hampden are coming off productive seasons.
Freshman Emily Zurcher from Topsham and Lauren Marcoux from Fairfield will supply depth in the midfield.
Up front, opposing defenses will have to find a way to stop senior All-NAC first-teamer Shelby Bradford (23 goals, 15 assists) from Lee and junior Megan Clement (10 & 5) from Brunswick.
Freshman Megan O’Neil should also see some action up front.
Bosley said there is “no shortage” of goal scorers.
The Husson men are also optimistic despite losing several starters.
“This is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said senior fullback Justin Gauvin from Woolwich. “The freshmen are fitting in real well within our system.”
The Eagles should be stingy because seasoned goalie Miguel Dominguez is back and he has Gauvin and Newburgh senior Billy Shannon patrolling the middle of the defensive third.
Talented freshman James Crawford from Watford, England and John DeStefano will be the flank backs.
The midfield will feature last fall’s leading scorer, Kittery sophomore Tyler Metevier (10 & 3) along with junior Rob Cowart, freshman Gavin Madden, sophomore Alex Martin from Van Buren and senior Mark Trombley (4 & 3) from Burnham.
Sophomore Edwin Acosta, a former Davis Cup tennis player from Honduras, will be one of the strikers with Benedicta freshman Ethan Qualey and Patten’s Marshall Davis, former Katahdin High School teammates, also figuring in the mix.
Ellsworth freshman Taylor Wentworth can play up front or in the midfield.
“We’ve got some quick players up front who move the ball well,” said Trombley.
Shannon, who was an All-NAC first-teamer along with Metevier, said the veterans are going to have to provide leadership on and off the field to enable the newcomers to flourish.
“I’m very optimistic,” said Shannon, whose 11-7-1 Eagles won the NAC regular season title but lost to Castleton State in penalty kicks in the tourney final and went to the ECAC New England Division III Tournament where they went 1-1.