BANGOR — The Husson University women’s soccer team will have a new look this season.
All-time leading scorer and three-time All-North Atlantic Conference first-team selection Shelby Bradford, who racked up 63 goals and 37 assists over 63 games in three seasons, has graduated and so have All-NAC second-team midfielders Kylan Smith and Amy Sanz.
But there is no shortage of talent as Husson will return nine players who started at least nine games last season and 13th-year coach Keith Bosley has several newcomers expected to make an immediate impact.
“I think we’re going to be good,” said Bosley, who is looking for a fifth consecutive NAC title and NCAA Division III Tournament berth. “But we’ve had a target on our backs for a long time and we can’t be complacent. Ever.”
Husson was 15-6 a year ago, losing to Middlebury 6-0 in their NCAA tournament game. Husson has won at least 14 games for four straight years, outscoring its opponents 59-23.
“We suffered some huge losses [Bradford, Smith, Sanz] but we also have some young talent that will be crucial to our team. I think our speed will definitely be better this year. And we’ll have a deep bench,” said All-NAC second-team back Caitlyn Butterfield, one of four captains.
“We’re going to be fast all over the field,” agreed Lee’s Amanda Gifford, a junior midfielder who transferred from Bates College a year ago.
“We’re faster and fitter,” said Bosley.
“I think we’ll be just as good but our style will be a little bit different,” said senior defender and captain Jana Clukey from Presque Isle.
Gifford, who had five goals a year ago, and junior captain Katelyn Cloutier (2 goals, 4 assists) will replace Smith and Sanz in the midfield with sophomore Kayleigh Piccirillo (1 & 2) and freshman Marcy Francouer supplying quality depth, according to Bosley.
Bosley feels outside midfielders Michelle Manning of Hampden and Katie McLaughlin (0 & 5) of Winslow are “as a good as any outside midfielders we’ll play against, no matter who it is.”
The Eagles will be solid in the back led by Butterfield (1 & 1) and Clukey. Cloutier or sophomore Meghan O’Neil could be the other starting back, or Cloutier could see duty in the midfield. Hampden newcomer Tara Utecht is another strong option in the back.
Dynamic junior Alexandra Laniewski, a University of Vermont transfer and All-NAC first-teamer whose 12 goals were second behind Bradford’s 13 a year ago, and Van Buren senior Megan LaJoie (5 & 3), who is coming off recent knee surgery, will be the strikers along with senior Megan Clement (8 & 4).
LaJoie, who had 14 goals two years ago, could also play in the back and Clement could be used as an attacking midfielder.
Former Newmarket (N.H.) High School teammates Rebecca Jones and Kelsey Brangiel, both freshmen, have been impressive, according to Bosley. They can play up front or in the midfield.
Sophomore Emily Zurcher is a solid performer in the midfield or up front, said Bosley.
Newport junior Rozlyn Petersen, who stands 5-foot-11, will be the goalkeeper after backing up Jenn Plourde last year. She appeared in eight games.
“Roz has looked real strong this year,” said Clukey.
The players said they want to go undefeated in the conference and win at least one NCAA tourney game this season.
Husson opens its season Wednesday on the road at the University of Southern Maine.