BANGOR, Maine — There is plenty of optimism surrounding the men’s and women’s soccer programs and the field hockey team at Husson University.
A deeper and better men’s soccer program will try to improve on a 13-7-1 record and defend its North Atlantic Conference championship; the women’s soccer team will seek to better its 9-12 record under first-year coach Carly Gettler; and the field hockey team will gun for its fourth consecutive NAC title after coming off an 11-9 campaign.
“We’re significantly improved,” said Husson men’s soccer coach Jeff Gettler, who is Carly Gettler’s father. “We’re still very young. We’re mostly freshmen and sophomores. But we have great leaders in each class; the guys came back tremendously fit and the sophomores have really improved themselves.
“Everybody understands everything now and having a second recruiting class has really helped because it has given us great depth,” added Gettler, the conference’s coach of the year last fall.
“Coming into last season, none of us [freshmen] knew what to do,” said sophomore striker Phil Frost from Bangor, an All-NAC first team pick a year ago. “Now we know our jobs. We’ve come back strong. We should be able to pick up where we left off.”
Frost was the team’s leading scorer in 2011 with 16 goals and five assists.
He will be joined up front by Ellsworth junior Zack Emeigh (6 & 9) and impressive newcomer Stephen Berenyi of Levant, who had attended Liberty University (Va.) but didn’t play soccer there.
The experienced midfield features senior James Crockford, junior Chris DelGiudice of Oakland and sophomore Andrew Austin of Ellsworth. Austin had a goal and seven assists, with some of those assists coming off his long flip-throws.
Hampden Academy’s Cam Libbey, a freshman, also should see playing time.
Senior Trevor Higgins of Kittery will anchor the back line with sophomores Andy Stevick of Rockport, Brian Loiselle of Bangor, Vinny Visconti and Mike Desmond.
Brian Potter of South China’s Erskine Academy was the All-NAC first team goalkeeper last year (1.00 goals-against average, .841 save percentage) as a freshman and he returns, as does senior Mason Smith (2.12, .763).
Carly Gettler replaces 14-year head coach Keith Bosley, who left to become the athletic director at Green Mountain College in Vermont.
Bosley guided the Eagles to a 163-97-7 record, four conference championships and five NCAA Division III Tournament berths.
Gettler, who played college soccer at Richmond and was an assistant soccer coach at Mount Holyoke (Mass.) the past two falls, said she expects her Eagles to be “strong defensively” and is looking to see who will emerge as the goal scorers, since leading scorers and All-NAC first teamers all-Alex Laniewski (9 & 4) and Amanda Gifford (5 & 3) have graduated.
“In our scrimmages so far, we’ve had a lot of different people emerge [to score goals],” said Gettler.
Speedy senior Emily Zurcher of Topsham will be one of the primary target players up front. Juniors Whitney Cross of Belfast, Kelsey Brangiel and Marcy Francoeur and freshmen Hannah Clough of Mount Vernon and Miranda Drinkwater of Greenville also will be used as strikers. Francoeur (4 & 3) was a second team All-NAC choice last year.
Patrolling the midfield will be seniors Kayleigh Piccirillo and Amanda Mora, junior Becca Jones (3 & 2), sophomore Desiree Hamler and Bangor sophomore M.J. Boyce. Piccirillo played in just two games due to a knee injury last year.
A seasoned back line features seniors Lauren Marcoux of Shawmut and Meghan O’Neil, sophomore Michaela Bicknell and freshman Erin Boulier of Bangor.
Albion sophomore Jess Poulin (1.28, .798) returns in goal.
“Our defense should be very strong, we’ve got some speed and we’ve got some good freshmen,” said Zurcher.
Field hockey coach Jen Johnstone returns three forwards who combined for 43 goals last fall in Dover-Foxcroft junior Mariah Arno (20 & 4), Newport junior Sabrina Vaillancourt (17 & 7) and senior Kara Poirier (6 & 3). Arno was an All-NAC first team choice and Vaillancourt and Poirier were second-teamers.
“We should be able to generate a lot of offense. And we have a lot of speed,” said Johnstone. “We return nine starters and we’ve brought in nine freshmen. We’re much better now than we were at this time last year.”
“We’re hoping to score a bunch of goals,” said Arno.
“It’s exciting. We have more depth and we’re a very versatile team,” said Skowhegan junior Liz Noddin (5 & 1) who will anchor a midfield that will also include Mexico junior Emily Child, Brooks sophomore Chrissy Larrabee, Corinth freshman Logan Wilson and fellow freshman Renee Tessier, whose twin sister Emily is also on the team.
In the back, Junior Sam Blanchard of Corinth and sophomores Annika Durrell of Livermore and Melissa Souza played in every one of Husson’s 20 games last year.
The Eagles will be inexperienced in goal as sophomore Chelsea Kondratowicz played in just five games and will be pushed by freshman Maicee Gustin of Dexter.
All three teams open this weekend as the women’s soccer team hosts Vassar (N.Y.) and Western New England (Mass.) in the eighth annual Husson Classic on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m.; the field hockey team plays Neumann (Pa.) and Wheaton (Mass.) at the University of Southern Maine tourney in Gorham and the men’s soccer team faces Rhode Island College at the Lasell (Mass.) Tournament on Saturday at Weymouth High School and will face Hunter (N.Y.) or Lasell on Sunday.