Season Preview: Women's Soccer Looking for Team Effort

HAVERFORD, Pa. – The Haverford College women's soccer program enters the 2014 season on the heels of back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament. With sustained improvement under Jamie Schneck's tenure as head coach, the Fords enter this season looking to once again find their place near the top of Centennial Conference standings.

On paper, Haverford returns eight starters from its 2013 NCAA Tournament qualifying team. However, the graduation losses are sure to be felt as three of the Fords' starters from last season that have since graduated were named to the All-Centennial Conference team and ranked among the team's top five in total point production.

Included in these graduation losses are a pair of first-team All-Centennial Conference selections in Meg Boyer and Elizabeth Newman. Boyer led the team in goals (8), points (17), shots (70), shots on goal (28), and game-winning goals (4) last fall. She graduated ranked fifth in program history in career goals (30), while her 16 career game-winning goals set a new program standard. Newman also garnered first-team All-Centennial Conference accolades with two goals and one assist from her defensive position. She played in 76 games over the course of her career, making 66 starts. Mariah Baker earned second-team All-Centennial Conference honors in her senior season. She scored three goals and assisted on another, ranking third on the team in points.

With those crucial losses from graduation, the Fords will need a complete team effort to solidify those spots in the lineup. Haverford should still have plenty of experience to pull from as eight players on the roster are in their senior campaign. Those eight players represent the largest number of players from any class on the returning roster. Five of those seniors were regulars in the starting lineup a season ago.

Haverford did not lose a game in conference last season. A huge reason for that unblemished loss column was goalkeeper Robin Chernow. Now a senior, Chernow was the fourth member of last year's team to garner all-conference honors as she was named honorable mention All-Centennial Conference. She played in all 20 games, making 19 starts last season. Playing all but a few minutes in goal, Chernow was the goalie of record in each of the Fords' 10 victories. She posted an .841 save percentage and 0.66 goals against average. Her 36 career wins, 0.76 career goals against average, and 27.3 shutouts already rank as the best marks in program history. She currently ranks second in program history in goalie games played (59) and started (58), providing a dependable last line of defense.

Haverford's top returning offensive player from last season is senior Connie Friedman. Friedman ranked second on the 2013 squad with five goals and 12 points, while tying for the team lead with two assists. She has played in 57 games over her first three seasons, making her one of five players on the roster with 57 or more career appearances. Senior Phoebe Miller also returns after scoring two goals last season. She has also made 57 career appearances for the Fords.

The most experienced field player for the Fords will be senior defender Michelle Babicz. She has appeared in 58 career games for Haverford and started all 19 games in which she played last season. Senior Larisa Antonisse has made 57 career appearances for Haverford. She started 19 of the 20 games she appeared in last season, while also tying for the team lead with two assists. Junior Jo Haller, along with sophomores Ali Lopez and Kristen Fiore also return after starting for a majority of the season in 2013.

Women's soccer opens its schedule this Saturday, August 30 at Haverford College Kick-Off Classic against Arcadia at 1:30 p.m. The Fords will have four non-conference games under their belts by the time they travel to Dickinson for the Centennial Conference opener on September 20.