Looking Forward: Women’s Soccer

Led by surging fourth year head coach Kerry Dziczaniec, the 2007 Uni?versity of Vermont women’s soccer team is poised to improve upon last year’s record (5-10-3, 3-3-2 AE) and reach the America East tournament for a record three consecutive seasons.Despite being chosen to finish sixth in the conference in a recent preseason coaches’ poll, the Cats, returning five key starters, are excited about their chances in 2007. “We believe the level of play in America East has risen and the league has become extremely competitive from top to bottom,” said Dziczaniec, a 1993 George Washington graduate. “We believe it is any team’s champion?ship this year.”Dziczaniec’s subtle confidence stems from the team’s balanced mix?ture of experienced upperclassmen and talented incoming freshmen. Among the 11 returning student ath?letes, Dziczaniec will rely heavily on sophomore backstopper and Vermont native Eliza Bradley. The 2006 Amer?ica East All-Rookie selection posted a 1.34 GAA last season and tied a 10 year club record by recording four regular season shutouts. Defensively, the Cats will be led by junior Emilie Rowe of whose “tenacious play and leadership out of the back, op?ponents will have a hard time getting by,” Dziczaniec said.Returning to patrol the Catamount midfield is play-making junior Kaitlin Francis. Francis started all 18 games last season and was named to the 2006 America East All-Conference Second Team. Seniors Eileen Cirilli, Callie Ewald and junior Susie Cirilli will captain the ‘2007 Cats. For Dziczaniec, the selec?tions were a no-brainer: “They are fan?tastic representatives of our program and the University. They are going to be great leaders for us on and off the field.” Dziczaniec should be ecstatic about her incoming freshmen as well. Ranked 16 out of 41 in the Northeast by Soccer Buzz Magazine, the newest recruiting class, including seven Vermonters, fig?ures to contribute greatly. The Cats kick off the 2007 season Friday, Aug. 31 when they host Central Arkansas in the TD Banknorth Classic at 4 p.m. at Centennial Field.