Women's Soccer 2010 Preview - Preseason Camp Opens Aug. 6

Aug. 4, 2010

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By Brian Ormiston

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A UCF women's soccer team led by Amanda Cromwell always has an influx of newcomers that contribute right away every season. And when these student-athletes begin to gel with the skilled veterans, the Knights take off.

Cromwell realizes this will be an even more important ingredient in 2010 if the Black and Gold desires to repeat as Conference USA champions. The Knights lost several pieces from a 2009 squad that was ranked as high as No. 8 in the nation, including All-American midfielder Becca Thomas, leading scorer Courtney Whidden and Nikki Moore who arguably will go down as one of the best backs in UCF history.

In all, UCF is without five starters from a year ago, but with a total of 16 freshmen on this season's roster, the newcomers have a perfect chance to immediately crack the lineup in preseason camp. Yet the talent level of the 20 returning Knights will still make the 2010 club a powerful threat in C-USA once again.

And they all will be stepping onto the pitch for the first time as a team when UCF kicks off 2010 preseason camp Friday at 7 a.m. The Black and Gold will have a week to train before hosting FIU in a scrimmage Aug. 13, then just over one more week to prepare for the season-opener vs. Florida Aug. 22 at the UCF Soccer Complex at 7 p.m.

Heading into her 12th year as the leader of the Knights, Cromwell shares her thoughts as the 2010 season approaches.

Q: You lost a lot of quality seniors so what are the main concerns for you going into preseason camp?
A: The biggest thing will probably be finding goal scoring and who will step up to fill Courtney's shoes. But also the playmaking that Becca provided in the midfield will be another main area we need to focus on. All of our seniors had huge roles for us last year including Yvonne George up front and how she terrorized defenses, Nikki Moore in the back and Emily Maynard in the midfield. We also had a great keeper in Lynzee Lee who will be missed this year, but fortunately we do have Aline Reis back for her junior season. So where our goals come from and who will spearhead the attack from the midfield are the two big questions we need to answer.

Q: Who do you think can replace Courtney Whidden and Yvonne George?
A: Based on the spring, Kim Newsome and Tishia Jewell should be vying for the role as our leading goal scorer. One of them should get a bunch of assists and the other will get more opportunities to finish. They are not natural goal scorers like Whidden who was really gifted in that area, so they have to really be focused on timing runs and being in the right place on first touches. They need to be pure finishers instead of just striking the ball. Tishia didn't score a goal last year so we want her to get on a roll early this year to build her confidence. But they both can be very dynamic up top.

Q: And what about filling in for Becca Thomas?
A: There are a lot of midfielders that will be given shots, but based on this past spring we have to look at Stacie Hubbard and Katie Jackson as two players who have done well for us. We put Hubbard into more of an attacking role in the spring, as she was primarily a defensive mid in the past. She's very good on the dribble and can be very explosive. We also could add another defensive mid in there and have both of them attacking. Katie has better playmaking ability, I think she sees the game a bit better than our other midfielders and she can play the special balls that Becca did for us last year.

Q: Nikki Moore may not be in the lineup anymore, but you still have Christina Petrucco, Lauren Halbert and Bianca Joswiak returning. So what do you expect from the defense in 2010?
A: We did have freshman Ashley Nicol in the spring, and she stepped into that right back spot and played great. She has great crosses and hits a good ball. The one thing she has that Nikki was lacking is her heading ability. She is very good in the air, and that will add to the strength of our defense. Ashley will be able to get up and down the line, but right now doesn't have the one-on-one ability that Nikki possessed, so we'll have to get on her to join the attack.

Q: Aline Reis was an All-American goalkeeper as a freshman, and her stats were even better as a sophomore. How do you feel knowing that she continues to be the anchor of your defense?
A: Aline is so quick and agile, and her positioning is so good that her 5-foot-3 frame isn't a liability. We've had tall keepers in the past that get beat on high balls, but Aline is able to reach them. She just needs to stay healthy. We would like to keep her in a plastic bubble if possible. Combining Aline and our returning defenders, we have high expectations of our defense in terms of shutouts and goals against.

Q: What are your thoughts on your schedule, which is as always very tough?
A: We have the right mix of teams in our schedule. A lot of them have been to the NCAA Tournament and others who are on the cusp of getting in. We don't have any easy games this year as always. We have to show up everyday for training and on gamedays because it's just as important to get those early non-conference victories for our RPI and a possible at-large bid.

We have a scrimmage against FIU and then a week off before we face Florida to open the year. It'll be great to start at home and our players will be anxious to get the season going. I hope we get a great crowd the night before class starts. If the players are focused on that game, it will definitely help them during the preseason.