2013 Women's Soccer Preview
BOCA RATON, Fla.- Lynn University’s women’s soccer team, which displayed its youthfulness a year ago, has grown into its own and is ready to take on any opponent going into the 2013 season. Head coach Chip Dutchik has assembled a group with a blend of soccer IQ, tantalizing speed, immense athleticism and profound toughness. The Fighting Knights find themselves in a prime position with eight starters returning to make some noise in the Sunshine State Conference and return to the NCAA Tournament.
With most of the core returning, there are fewer questions marks going into competition but Dutchik used this offseason to create depth and build competition for starting positions. The offense and defense are electrified by all-conference type players while there will be a significant race for the starting nod in goal.
All-SSC First Team selection Kirstie Schults hopes to build upon a year in which she finished second in goals against league opponents. Her breakaway speed is unmatched but it’s her ability to find open creases through the defense that will make her even more of a threat. Schults, though, has plenty of help up top with the addition of the tall and speedy Amanda Feldstein, who scored over 100 goals in high school, as well as her sister Summer, who has completely healed from an injury that limited her to just eight games in 2012.
Tatiana Penagos and Linzi Martin are two players LU will be counting on to continue their development. The duo combined for six goals last year as freshmen and has shown in the preseason their ball-handling skills and willingness to fire shots from outside the box could prove deadly. Quarterbacking the attack should be Lauren Handley, who has lead the team in assists the past two years with her deft touch, but newcomer Jordyn Turner has showed toughness and an ability to read the game well for a freshman and will push for time.
The defensive side of the midfield has been locked-down by converted goal keeper Meghan Dolan. The junior southpaw is not afraid of tackling, is fantastic in the air and has shown she can distribute the ball when needed. Also looking for time will be Carolyn Hartman. The junior missed most of last season due to an injury but has shown glimpses of what made her a starter during the team’s NCAA Tournament run two years ago.
Captains Paige Meggison and Megan Rodwell will anchor the back line with Meggison making the switch to center back full-time after playing on the outside through the first two and a half years of her career at Lynn. Rodwell is another player returning from an injury that sidelined her the previous season but she controlled the middle in 2011 with her skillful passing and great defensive reads. Newcomer Georgia Robert will also be making appearances in the middle as her size, 5-foot-10, makes her the ideal fit to win aerial battles.
Lina Forsman will start the year on the defensive front. It will be the first time she opens there to start the season as she arrived at Lynn as a forward, but the junior has filled in at right back in each of the past two years with fantastic results. The lone open spot among the back four was on the left side but freshman Brittany Garbina has put a stranglehold on the position.
With Dolan moving out from net, the biggest position battle has come between Caitlin Shaver and Katie Nimitz. Shaver, a lanky 5-foot-10, and Nimitz, a solid 5-foot-1, have a combined zero starts between them but ooze athleticism that could make up for their lack of experience.
The Fighting Knights want to play the best to be the best and the upcoming schedule follows that mantra with three nationally-ranked opponents slated. Easing into play with an opener at Ave Maria, things quickly heat up with a trip to Savannah, Ga., to take on Clayton State (19 wins the past two years) and fifth-ranked Armstrong Atlantic. Lynn has Nova Southeastern, Florida Southern, Barry and No. 15 Rollins twice during the season for non-conference and SSC matches but has tough road games at Saint Leo and eighth-ranked Tampa to go along with home contests against Eckerd and Florida Tech.
Fans can catch every game through live stats and audio and watch home SSC contests at LynnFightingKnights.com. Don’t forget to ‘Like’ us on Facebook and follow @LUKnights on Twitter, Instagram and Vine for updates.