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The Bulldogs host South Dakota Friday at 4 p.m. to kick of 2012 campaign.
Courtesy: Explosive Illusions

Potent Mix of Veterans And Newcomers Hit The Field Friday

Courtesy: Gonzaga Athletics
          Release: 08/16/2012
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SPOKANE, Wash. - A new season is upon the Gonzaga University women's soccer team and fourth-year head coach Amy Edwards is excited about what she believes is a potent mix of veterans and newcomers. The Bulldogs return 14 players from the 2011 squad that went 7-10-2 and welcome an explosive group of eight newcomers.

 "We have a solid group or returners and seniors back this season," explained Edwards. "We will look for them to provide the young players with positive leadership all year."

The main five returnees that are critical to the success of the program in 2012 are seniors Emma Dolcetti, Susan Brown and Morgan Manchester, as well as Junior Emily Eckmann along with sophomore Katey Pennington.

Dolcetti, a forward returns as the Bulldogs top goal scorer from a season ago; notching five while also assisting on two others. Brown returns as the starting keeper for the Zags making 106 saves last season. In 2011, she, along with the steady defensive work of Manchester, recorded seven shutouts. Eckmann will make the move from the central midfield to an outside back position and will provide an experienced back line with even more stability. Pennington a tenacious and aggressive player, who was second on the team in assists last year with four, moves from her defensive position to a more attacking role in 2012 as a winger.

"Susan, Morgan and Emily will provide tons of consistency and experience to our defense, while we look for Katey, with her speed and quickness, and Emma, with her scoring threat on crosses and set play, to be very dangerous on the attack this year."

Also giving Gonzaga some veteran leadership and play in 2012 will be senior Anna Lund and sophomore Cricket Harber. These two, along with Manchester and Eckmann, will solidify the Bulldogs defense. Lund steps in for her senior campaign to fill a needed hole at the right back spot, while Harber will once again be leaned on to control the air battles at center back.

"Anna has improved each and every year of her career, and now finds herself in a position to reap the benefits of her hard work. She will give us another seasoned upperclassmen in our back line," stated Edwards. "Cricket obtained a lot of experience last season and has the potential to be an All-WCC defender. We are pushing her hard to reach that potential this season."

The eight incoming freshman will each have the opportunity to fill some needs for the Zags this season, from providing depth at keeper to adding strength to the back line and midfield, as well as goals in the attack.

"With the unfortunate loss of Cassie Geerdts again in 2012 due to another knee injury, the door will be open for a number of individuals to step up and contribute this season," explained Edwards.

Expected to contribute right out of the gate for Gonzaga is attacking midfielder Heather Johnson, forward Sila Tuiofea, and defender Becca Lentz. Johnson and Tuiofea both had outstanding high school careers, each scoring a staggering 100-plus goals during their four-years at Southridge High and Palo Verde High, respectively. Lentz, nearly back to strength after a knee injury, will provide depth to the backline with her speed and athleticism.

"Heather is a tremendous goal scorer, extremely competitive and a very athletic individual with strength and pace," stated Edwards. "Sila is such a strong and quick player. She is a creative passer and goal scorer and has shown this preseason to have the potential to be dynamic in the final third. Both are going to be big assets for us this year.

"Becca has tremendous strength, speed and marking ability, which are huge qualities of a top defender but she also has the ability to get forward on the attack for us and help create goal scoring opportunities."

The 22-person squad gets their first taste of action Friday when it hosts the University of South Dakota at the Gonzaga Soccer Field at 4 p.m. The Bulldogs game against the Coyotes will be the beginning of a quest to reach 10 wins and the team's ultimate goal of a bid to the NCAA Tournament.

"With our non-conference and West Coast Conference schedule we know there will be no easy games but if we show passion and competitive spirit every time we step on the field we will give ourselves a great chance to win each match," said Edwards. "I believe our soccer program is continuing to take steps in the right direction and we know it won't be long before the gap gets smaller with the top teams in our league."

IN DEPTH LOOK AT THE ZAG ROSTER (Broken down my position, in alphabetical order)      

Forwards: 
Senior Emma Dolcetti: A very imposing individual who plays with tons of competitiveness and tenacity. She is a tremendous leader and someone that will be very dangerous for us in front of goal thru the run of play as well as on set pieces.
Freshman Sila Tuiofea: Like Dolcetti, Tuiofea is a strong and dynamic player, who has the potential with her quickness and goal scoring ability to provide us with another explosive option in the attack.

Wingers:  
Redshirt freshman Mikayla Anderson:
Returning from a knee injury that sidelined her in 2011. Anderson is a savvy, skillful player that has good vision, passing ability and creativity going to goal and we expect her to be a quality option in the wide areas.
Freshman Jessica Bennett: is a great athlete with good speed and 1-v-1 attacking ability. With her strengths she has the versatility to play up front or in the back for the Bulldogs.
Freshman Lauren Luke (Winger/Attacking Central Midfielder): A creative player with good quickness and a nose for the goal. She is also a crafty and skillful attacker that can serve a quality ball.
Sophomore Katey Pennington: Moves from defender to winger in 2012. Pennington is quick and aggressive in 1-v-1 situations. She has great pace, creativity in the attack and will be a relentless thorn in the opposing team's defense due to her willingness to go at players.

Attacking Central Midfielders:
Freshman Heather Johnson (Attacking Central Midfielder/Forward): A tremendous goal scorer, who has the ability to play anywhere in the attack in our system. She is very good off the dribble and a great long-range finisher.
Sophomore Tori Lee: A skillful player that is comfortable on the ball and is a quality passer. Lee also takes free kicks and has the ability to shoot from distance.
Sophomore Kasey Rubosky: A very crafty and creative attacking player on the dribble, she is fearless when attacking her defender 1-v-1 and is a quality playmaker for our team.

Defensive Midfielders:
Freshman Kellyn Nelson: Is a consistent player who reads the game well. Nelson is a simple passer with a great attitude and work rate.
Junior Ali Ohashi: A good 1-v-1 defender with strong tackling skills and ability to win air battles. She has a tremendous work ethic and mentality, which provides a spark plug for our squad.
Sophomore Jordan Travis: One of Gonzaga's most consistent players from 2011. She is a smart, steady player, who will be valuable to the team as she returns from injury suffered last fall.

Outside Backs:
Junior Emily Eckmann (Outside Back/Defensive Midfielder): Eckmann has an incredible work rate and has come into preseason in the best shape of her career. She continues to develop into a heady defender that will disrupt opponents' play; she is also a strong tackler and has a great heading ability.
Freshman Becca Lentz: Lentz has tremendous speed and strength as well as overall athleticism. She is a great 1-v-1 defender who has an attacking mentality with the potential to score from distance.
Senior Anna Lund: Lund has continued to improve each and every year. She has good athletic ability with pace and change of direction, who has developed into a solid 1-v-1 defender that attacks out of the back in the flank areas.
Junior Danielle Simien: Simien has solid pace and quickness with good recovery speed. Her attitude and energetic personality is always welcomed during training and games.

Center Backs:
Freshman Lexi Clark: Is a tenacious and tough defender who will add depth to the center back spot.
Sophomore Cricket Harber: A dominating presence in the back who has great heading ability. She is a good passer over distance as well as being dangerous on free kicks from long range.
Senior Morgan Manchester: The team's best 1-v-1 defender who has 3 years of experience. She is a strong, smart leader in the back and directs and reads the game extremely well at her center back position.

Goalkeepers:
Senior Alicia Berggren: A quick and competitive keeper with quality shot-stopping ability.
Senior Susan Brown: A very experienced goalkeeper who reads and understands the game very well. She is good with the ball at her feet, a great shot-stopper and invaluable leader on the field from goal.
Christie Tombari: Has great size and demeanor in the goal with quality kicking ability and solid shot-stopper. With consistent training and hard work Christie will develop into a solid goalkeeper.  

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