The 2008 edition of the Franklin & Marshall women's soccer team is filled with experience which translates into excitement to start the upcoming season. Coming off an 8-6-2 record in 2007, the Diplomats are ready to compete for the chance to return to the Centennial Conference playoffs for the first time since their last appearance in 2002.
First-year head coach BJ Atkins will embark on her third season on the F&M sidelines. She spent the past two years as the assistant coach under Steve O'Day. Atkins will make her debut with nearly the same roster from last year, returning 15 letterwinners, including 10 seniors.
Out of the 15 veterans, six of those players returning accounted for 75 percent of last year's offense. Senior midfielder Shannon Summers led the team with four goals and three assists for 11 points. She has demonstrated a propensity to score at critical moments, having posted a pair of answering goals against Cabrini. Her second came with four seconds left on the clock, salvaging a tie from what appeared to be certain defeat. She also scored the game winner against Haverford to deliver the Diplomats their first defeat of the Fords since 2002.
Senior Danielle David also knocked in four goals last year and handed out one assist to rank second on the squad. She joins Summers in having played all 16 games and netted the game winner in a 1-0 victory over Lebanon Valley. Another midfielder contributing to the offense was Kelsey Tylus. The senior added four points with one goal and two assists from the wing position, scoring her lone tally against Ursinus.
Senior attackers Amy Cawley and Brittany Easter combined for five of the 20 goals scored last season. Cawley started in seven games and sat third on the team with three goals, while Easter added two goals in 12 appearances.
Not only does the excitement stem from the offensive core depth, but also from the return of the strong defensive unit in the backfield. Seniors Miriam Marcis, Michelle Shea Megan Hunter and Nicole Boyle are the backbone of the defense that allowed a stingy 0.97 goals per game in 2007. Marcis started in all 16 games, while Shea played in 15 contests and scored a goal in the win over McDaniel. Hunter and Boyle will look to expand on their playing time from last year, making appearances in 11 and seven contests, respectively. Senior goalkeeper Erin Roy made her starting debut last season and proved to be the glue that bonded the defense. The veteran netminder made 83 saves, including a season-high 12 on 22 shots against Johns Hopkins. Roy posted seven shutouts, while allowing only 16 goals in 16 games.
Junior Meaghan Mancini will contribute in the midfield after appearing in 14 games last season. Sophomores Shelby Cummins and Cecily Koss saw significant playing time as freshmen and add depth to the midfield. Cummins tallied her first collegiate assist against Cabrini, while Koss posted her first collegiate start vs. Bryn Mawr.
The incoming class for 2008 brings eight players, but not all new faces. Amy Chabitnoy just finished her first season on the F&M women's basketball team and Katie Cogar is making her second appearance on the soccer roster after joining the team as a freshman. She also spent a year on the women's lacrosse team and was a member of the rubgy club team.
The Diplomats will officially open their season with Cabrini on Sept. 3 at home beginning at 7 p.m., before hosting the F&M Tournament on Sept. 5-6. F&M will face St. John Fisher in the opening round at 7 p.m. Fans unable to attend the games in Lancaster will still be able to follow the action on B2 Networks, as F&M will offering live streaming video for all of its home games this season.