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Archive for August 24, 2019

Aug. 24, 2019 — NCAA Division I Preview

The Fearless 5ive:

North Carolina
Penn State

North Carolina, your defending champions, may have lost Team USA’s Ashley Hoffman, but retains Team USA’s Erin Matson. That alone should have opponents quaking in their turf shoes, but there is plenty of skill up and down the lineup.

UNC’s keenest competition will come from a resurgent Duke side. The Blue Devils have been aching to atone for an overtime goal yielded from a near-impossible angle in a season-ending defeat in the NCAA Tournament.

Maryland, last year’s national runners-up, will be making another run at Big Ten and national honors despite graduating Team Germany’s Nike Lorenz and Team USA’s Linnea Gonzalez. Watch for incoming freshman Emma DeBerdine, who has impressed in the early going.

Maryland’s top in-conference rival, we think, is Penn State. The Nittany Lions will debut transfer Bree Bednarski, who at one time held the state record for goals scored in one season until a certain Mackenzie Allessie came along. Paityn Wirth is the team’s super-frosh; she can take a game over with her speed and skills.

Another team looking to make a run at national honors is the University of Connecticut. The Huskies have three incoming foreign freshmen and also has redshirt sophomore Cheyenne Sprecher, who is a game-changer in the goal cage.

The contenders:

Wake Forest

Wake Forest graduates its dynamic duo of Julie Grashoff and Meagan Anderson, but third-leading scorer Anne van Hoof returns. Isla Bint looks to be the incumbent in the goal cage, but will be pushed by former age-group national-teamer Katie Jean.

The Princeton roster is brimming with possibility. Add incoming super-scorer Sammy Popper to a lineup including midfielders Samantha Davidson, Julianna Tornetta, Mary Kate Neff, and striker Ali McCarthy, and you understand why there’s a lot of optimism along Nassau Street.

A team which matured greatly last year was Iowa. The Hawkeyes return their top three scorers in Maddy Murphy, Katie Birch, and Sophie Sunderland. Iowa also returns goalie Leslie Speight for her senior season.

Emma Way, and her 20 goals, are graduated from Michigan. This means trying to put together an attack from leading returners Meg Dowthwaite, Sofia Southam, Guadalupe Fernandez Lacort, and Kathryn Peterson. Goalkeeper Anna Spieker, the six-footer, returns for Marcia Pankrantz’s defense.

Much will be expected at the University of Virginia because of their performance a year ago. No player on the roster had more than five goals or five assists last season, scoring a mere 29 goals on the season. But that experience, plus incoming stick-wizards such as Adele Iacobucci, should have the Cavaliers on the move.

In the hedgerows:

Ohio State
St. Joseph’s

A lot of attention, right or wrong, will be focused on Ohio State the next four years because of a recruiting class including NFHS all-time leading scorer Mackenzie Allessie. But if head coach Jarred Martin can get everyone working together, this will be a dangerous side.

Speaking of NFHS all-time leaders, can you believe this is Austyn Cuneo’s senior year at Rutgers? The Scarlet Knights made the NCAA Tournament this past year, and there’s enough talent on the roster that the team could very well make it again. Of the incoming freshmen, watch for Amanda Beck, who won a state championship with Allessie at Mount Joy Donegal (Pa.), but her family moved to South Jersey, where she graduated from Medford Lakes Shawnee (N.J.)

Syracuse is a team which has a real chance to make some inroads in a tough ACC circuit.  The Orange return second-leading scorer Chiara Gutsche and welcome 191 goal-scorer Charlotte de Vries, whose mother played for the U.S. Masters women’s national team and coached at Kent State for a number of years.

Agueda Moroni, the leading scorer for Liberty a year ago, has graduated. But the Flames return Jill Bolton, Mallory Fortenbaugh, and Alivia Klopp to face a tough Big East schedule.

Our national dark horse for 2019 is St. Joseph’s University. This is a side which has been reborn thanks to the coaching of Lynn Farquahar, a disciple of Beth Anders. Tonya Botherway and Sara Hayes, two of the Hawks’ three leading returning scorers, return.