Women's Soccer Season Preview - Part Two

Aug. 24, 2009

The Washington women's soccer team kicks off its 2009 season this week as they host Seattle on Wednesday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. and No. 3 ranked Portland on Sunday, Aug. 30 at Noon. Below is a position-by-position breakdown of the 2009 team. To read the first part of the women's soccer season preview, click here.

GOALKEEPERS
Heading into the 2008 season, the plan was to give junior Alex Phillips the starting job and a chance to finally show off her skills while bringing freshman sensation Kari Davidson along slowly. The plan panned out at first as Phillips did a stellar job through the first half of the season, going 8-3 with four shutouts. Then, a season-ending knee injury changed the plan altogether.

That forced Davidson into action in the middle of UW's brutal stretch of games against ranked teams, starting with being thrown into the match at No. 3 UCLA midway through. The following week, Davidson made her first career Pac-10 start against No. 2 Stanford and it was a rough introduction to the conference to say the least for the bright-eyed rookie.

But just two days later, the Portland, Ore., native showed her guts and determination as she battled and held off No. 13 Cal to give UW a 3-2 upset victory that would end up being the crucial game in the Huskies finishing tied for third in the conference. Davidson would go 6-1-1 over the final eight games including the Cal game and even picked up a win in her first career NCAA Tournament game. It was a baptism-by-fire that may turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Davidson.

With Phillips still working back toward 100 percent recovered from her ACL tear, and with Cal transfer Jorde LaFontaine-Kussmann redshirting this season, Davidson appears to have the job locked down over Phillips, Makenna Brinster and freshman Dani Boross.

'Alex getting hurt mid-season last year hurt us and it was a bummer for her and now going into her senior season she's been spending a year rehabbing and not playing and getting full games so she's got her work cut out for her to come in and compete with Kari,' Husky head coach Lesle Gallimore said. 'Kari stepped in and took her lumps but definitely got better and got playoff experience and all the spring games and she also got the majority of play in Brazil. So goalkeeping competition is going to be outstanding.'

Although LaFontaine-Kussmann won't be competing on the field this year, Gallimore sees her presence alone as a positive for the corp.

'Jorde adds an entire dimension to training and pushes the rest of the goalkeepers,' Gallimore said. 'Makenna is coming off an injury and we have a freshman keeper in Dani Boross so there are five of them out there. Who's going to be in contention to play besides Kari is kind of up to them. My hope is that Alex is healthy and she makes a push to be game-ready but we've got to be patient with her as well in the beginning. The goalkeeper position is one where I feel we have good depth but there's going to be a lot of competition and I think Kari and Alex needs to duke it out. Whether one plays the majority or they both play, they need to be solid for us... as solid as they were for us the majority of last season.'

DEFENSE
While competition could be intense in goal, just in front of the goal there figures to be a familiar group of players day in and day out in what is the most experienced position on the field for the Dawgs.

Senior Lindsey Kasser and juniors Hannah Greig and Kendyl Pele hold down the backline with talent, experience and leadership. Kasser and Pele, who were captains in 2008, were also two of six players who started all 22 games last season showing their consistency. They helped the Huskies to a 1.38 goals against average after allowing 1.82 goals a game in 2007.

'We're mature on our back line which is good,' Gallimore said. 'A lot of being a good team at the back is maturity and we have high expectations leadership-wise from Kasser and Kendyl and sometimes that can cut into how much they concentrate on their own play, but I think they've both matured enough that they've tended to be very consistent regardless of who's playing at the outside positions.'

The Huskies will also look to get contributions from junior Carli Cearnal, who appeared in 12 games last season, along with sophomore Kerry Leslie, who saw some quality minutes in 11 games early in the season while holding down the spot in place of the injured senior Dana Stirn. Gallimore also hopes freshmen Brittany Davis-Roberti and Louise Albin can contribute when needed.

'We're hoping our freshmen can step into those outside back or center back holes if we need them to but those are positions that we count on to be consistent,' Gallimore said. 'There doesn't need to be flash, just good organization and consistency in how they defend and how they play and how organized they are and that's the thing about maturity: you don't have to start over in the preseason and teach anyone how they're supposed to play the position. We have high expectations that they come in and know their jobs right away and can perform consistently.'

MIDFIELD
The midfield is a crowded position where the Huskies are loaded with talent, led by sophomore sensation Kate Deines, who more than lived up to the hype in an outstanding freshman campaign. After scoring a goal in her first collegiate game, Deines never slowed down, scoring seven goals for the Dawgs, the second-most for a rookie in UW history. She started all 22 games and provided a goal-scoring spark the Huskies sorely missed over the past few years.

'Kate is a great player to watch and we're looking for her to build off a stellar freshman campaign,' Gallimore said. 'She is a tireless worker who is becoming better and better at this level. She can be a great playmaker, defender and goal-scorer.'

Joining the All-Pac-10 and All-Region Deines in the center of the midfield will be senior Chelsea Bumbaugh, who played in 20 of 22 games last season, and Niki Murray, who played in all 22 games.

A deep midfield will also be bolstered by juniors Kelley Joswick, Jane Mitchell and McKenna Waitley along with sophomore Faustine Dufka, who played some quality minutes as a freshman. Joswick broke out as a scoring threat for the Dawgs in 2008, scoring four goals and adding an assist to finish fourth on the team in scoring while Mitchell proved to also be a dynamic player, providing three assists. While Waitley will play most of the time at the forward position, she will also add some depth to the midfield.

'We feel like we're solid in the midfield as far as bringing back a returning team in Kate and Chelsea,' Gallimore said. 'Faustine has pushed the play up there in the wide position along with Kellye, and McKenna could see some time in the midfield out wide. We've tried to find groups of central midfielders who complement each other well and who have strengths that help us both offensively and defensively at the same time and that's been a little bit of an experiment in the off-season. We've tried a lot of different combinations in there.'

FORWARDS
The secret is out about Husky star Veronica Perez. Now the challenge in 2009 is for other players to step up around 'V' to take the pressure off the Husky sparkplug, who broke out for 13 goals and five assists last season. Perez came up with clutch goal after clutch goal, netting six game-winners in UW's 15 victories.

After earning All-Pac-10 and All-Region honors, Perez spent the summer honing her game in the international ranks, taking turns with the Mexican National Team as well as with the Under-23 U.S. National Team.

''V' plays as a forward but looks a lot like a midfielder at times. She has a ton of skill and flare and is the type of player who makes you stand up when you watch her just to see what she'll do next,' Gallimore said. 'With her international experience this summer she is poised to have another great season for us.

'That said, she had a breakout season last year so the more people know about you, the harder it is to come out and replicate it,' Gallimore continued. 'But I think she can, particularly because she'll have better players around her. I think McKenna Waitley will be a better player this year than she was last year. She came off an injury the year before and then got hurt in the preseason so it took a little bit for her to get going. But she's a tremendous player and will help us out a lot.'

With Perez and Waitley (2 goals, 4 assist in '08) providing most of the consistent scoring punch, the Huskies will look to also get some points out of sophomores Sarah Martinez, Kelli Stewart and Alex Webber. Webber saw the majority of the playing time in 2008 out of the trio, appearing in 19 games and scoring her first career goal in record-breaking fashion, finding the back of the net just 15 seconds into a match against Oregon State. Martinez, meanwhile, played in 12 games and showed promise before injuries slowed her down as they also did to Stewart, who is back after a torn ACL.

'Kelli is back and she has great speed, and Alex Webber has improved a ton,' Gallimore said. 'Sarah Martinez was also injury-riddled last year but is now back 10-fold so I think the forward group really has the biggest positive change to make on our team, not only in goal production but in creating goals. They can take a little of the load off of `V' and spread the scoring around a little more. We need to become a team that's not so predictable to mark so teams can't say, 'well, if you take the little Perez player out of the game then you can beat Washington.' That's not the kind of team we want to be. We want to be less predictable and more well-rounded and I think that group in general can help us do that.'

Check back in to GoHuskies.com tomorrow for the final part in this three-part season preview.

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