WATERVILLE, Maine -- The Colby College women's soccer team will be strong in back with the return of four starting defenders and all goalkeepers for third-year head coach Kristin Shaw.
Colby opens the 2018 season at home against local rival Thomas College on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. The Mules have their New England Small College Athletic Conference opener against Tufts University on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. on the Colby Soccer Field.
"It has been a productive training camp -- players arrived fit with a burning desire to compete," Shaw said. "Players have met the demands of a preseason with determination and confidence. We keep throwing things at them and they keep grinding and growing."
The Mules, 4-9-2 overall last season, allowed just 20 goals in 15 games while starting the youngest backline in the conference with two first-years and a sophomore. Senior co-captain Katie Senechal (Saco, Maine) will again anchor the backline with junior Lindsay Ayers (Lewisburg, Pa.), sophomore Olivia Siegel (Bethesda, Md.), and sophomore Sofia Oliveira (Chantilly, Va.). In addition to the returning four starters, Shaw expects sophomore Grace Franklin (Ridgefield, Conn.) and first-year Alessandra Marciano (Oyster Bay, N.Y.) to compete for minutes in the backline.
The Mules are fortunate to have experienced goalkeepers who have played in plenty of games the past two years. Junior Dani Lonati (Franklin, Mass.) and sophomore Shannon Gray (East Bridgewater, Mass.) both played 695 minutes in 2017. Gray was fourth in the NESCAC in overall save percentage (.847), while Lonati was sixth in the league in conference save percentage (.825). Senior Samantha Rizzo (Swampscott, Mass.), a starter as a sophomore, missed her entire junior year due to injury.
With the experience in back, how well the Mules do this season will likely come down to goal scoring. Colby had two 0-0 ties last year and lost three other games by just one goal.
In the midfield, Colby returns two starters, senior co-captain Katherine Gillespie (pictured, Arundel, Maine) and senior Hannah Brozdowski (Easton, Conn.), along with juniors Kara Wilson (Concord, Mass.), Mary Farnkoff (Scarborough, Maine), and sophomores Emily Demmon (Atherton, Calif.) and Naomi Burhans (Winchester, Mass.), who all played quality minutes last season.
The Mules are without sophomore Laura Ensminger (Ringoes, N.J.), who will miss the season due to a knee injury. Shaw will look for first-year midfielders Hallie Schwartzman (Kennebunk, Maine), Jackie Himel (New York, N.Y.), and Mannon Frykholm (Boulder, Colo.) to fill Ensminger’s void and make an impact in the midfield.
Sophomore forward Olivia Greif (Needham, Mass.) led the Mules in scoring with three goals and three assists for nine points. Senior Elizabeth Barry (Newton, Mass.) was third in scoring at three goals and one assist. Senior Catherine Fraser (Orono, Minn.) also returns on the forward line.
Sophomore forward Sarah Lofstrom (East Bridgewater, Mass.) showed early promise with one goal and hard-nosed play in four games (Mules were 2-1-1 at that point), but missed the rest of the season due to injury. First-years Charlotte White (Washington, D.C.) and Juliette Nadeau (North Reading, Mass.) are newcomers on the forward line and are expected to have significant roles this season.
With 15 of the 25 players at sophomore standing or younger, Shaw and assistant coach Mike Skelton will once again have a young squad.
"Players, injured or able to play, first-years to seniors have shown a strong sense of purpose and commitment to continue to raise the standards and expectations of the program," Shaw said. "We as a staff are looking forward to watch this group continue to move in a positive direction."