By Kevin Russell, Sports Editor
August 18, 2012
The women’s soccer team has had three straight successful campaigns and will look to continue their success in 2012. Coming off of an 8-10-3 season a year ago, the Panthers have been picked to finish third in the Big South Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
The Panthers will return seven starters from last year’s squad, which should help as they try to improve upon their 6-2-2 record last year in conference. In addition to the seven returning players, Janay Whittaker, Kelli Joline, Becca Hemby and Sammy Vercelino will be playing, all of whom were voted onto the first team All- Big South a year ago. The Panthers lost their star defender, Brielle Spencer, after graduation, but have retained her as a volunteer assistant for this season.
The Panthers will begin their season on the road with two non-conference games against Virginia Commonwealth University and Auburn University, but will return home Aug. 24 for their home opener versus Tennessee Tech. The Panthers also have notable home games this year against Elon University, Longwood University and University of North Carolina at Asheville.
The Panthers only play seven games inside the friendly confines of Vert Stadium this season and are on the road for a staggering 13 games. Although there is a big disparity in the number of home versus away games, head coach Marty Beall isn’t worried.
“I’m very excited about our schedule this year,” Beall said on HPU’s athletic website. “We will be playing against a variety of playing styles and systems of play that will prepare us for conference play.”
The out of conference schedule will surely challenge the Panthers this season with games against East Carolina University, West Virginia University and Appalachian State University.
Only two years removed from playing in the NCAA tournament, the Panthers seem prepared to make another run at a Big South Championship.