Posted: Aug 29, 2019
A year removed from posting the most points in conference play in program history, the Hiram College women's soccer team will look to a strong returning core to once again climb the conference ladder in 2019.
Entering his fifth season at the helm of the Terrier program, head coach Michael Cracas is encouraged by the depth of veteran leadership. "So far in the early portion of the season, the leadership group has been phenomenal," remarked Cracas. "In my five years, we haven't had a senior class that has taken to leadership in the way that this one has."
Leading the way during the 2019 season will be returning first-team All-NCAC selections, senior Ally Green and junior Hannah Ward.
Green has been a mainstay between the pipes over the last two seasons, earning all-conference honors following both her sophomore and junior campaigns.
Last season, Green was selected a First-Team honoree for the first time, making a conference-best 125. She posted double-digit saves five times on the season, including 13 in an NCAC victory over DePauw. Additionally, she posted a shutout against Wittenberg, marking the fourth of her career.
It won't just be Green that the Terriers will rely on to keep the ball out of the net in 2019, as the back row of defense sees five key contributors returning to the fray.
Seniors Emma Kovach Miranda Miracle and Kaitlyn Morse, as well as junior Amber Baker and sophomore Kaitlyn Pongracz. Combined, the quartet has made a total of 129 starts on the back row, while playing in 151 games.
Other players looking to vie for time in the back row include junior Kate Cawley, sophomore Tatiana Garcia, and first-year players Emily Kazimore and Emily D'Amico.
"We need to have a team mentality on the defensive side of the ball," commented Cracas. "Even though Ally has had a really good last two years, we will have more success if she has made less saves. We need to play cohesively as a unit and limit other team's chances. Fortunately for us, we have a really experienced core on the backline."
In the midfield, seniors Lauren Caldwell and Val Lauderback, junior Jess Smith and sophomores Audrey Lauer and Kylie Davis will look to play both ways in the Terriers' transitional game. Lauderback and Smith played in all 17 games last season while Davis played in 15 in her freshman campaign.
Other players in the midfield that will see minutes include first-year players Jaycee Ward, Ashley Sandru and Kenzie Johnston.
In the front, Hannah Ward will once again look to provide the same offensive spark that she did a season ago when she was named an All-NCAC selection. As a sophomore, the Niles, Ohio native tallied seven goals and totaled 16 points. She helped lift the Terriers to an NCAC victory over Allegheny when she posted a pair of goals and an assist.
Ward is joined in the front by juniors Courtney Wendel and Sam Minor, as well as sophomore Kaitlyn Harris. The four players combined for 13 of Hiram's 15 goals last season and totaled 32 of the 39 offensive points.
Other players looking to make an impact on the front line in their first year include freshmen Samantha Carrico and Julia Frank.
"The team mentality is going to be the thing that gets us where we want to go this season," remarked Cracas. "Our upperclassmen and our leadership core have done a really good job of stressing the "we" dynamic and if we play like a team, and conduct ourselves like a family, good things will come."
Hiram opens the year at Albion on August 30 at 7 p.m. as part of a four-game road trip to begin the season. The non-conference home opener for the Terriers comes on September 14 against Kalamazoo, while the NCAC opener is scheduled for September 28 against the Tigers of Wittenberg.