MILLEDGEVILLE, GA. - Now taking the reins for her second season as head coach of the Georgia College soccer program, Hope Clark has a strong core of 13 returning players, including a pair of All-Peach Belt Conference (PBC) selections, with numerous starts and plenty of experience. Add in a whopping 15 newcomers to the Bobcat roster, and the preseason will be full of healthy competition for nearly every spot on the field.
“The style of soccer won’t change much,” reveals Clark. “We’re still going to be very possession-oriented and attacking-minded. The new crop of players has helped strengthen us in all aspects. We’ve gotten more athletic and bigger in size as well as number.”
A quality group of student-athletes on and off the field, the ability to bring the two groups together, and quickly, will be an important factor of the preseason.
“Team chemistry will be key,” said Clark. “We need them to gel and gel quickly as we start out with tough opponents right away.”
The leading active scorer for the Bobcats with 13 goals, Megan McAlpin (Newnan, Ga.) enters her final season off a down year (2 goals) in 2010. McAlpin is a “strong, physical forward” and the team’s hardest worker will look to bring a bit more to the table in her senior campaign.
Midfielder Karen Bonilla (Manassas, Va.) is a two-time All-PBC selection, and will look to be a bit more of a factor in the scoring game this season. Savvy on the ball with solid distribution skills, Bonilla will be called upon to put more points on the board and to have a bigger impact on the offense.
Tawny Moffat (Peachtree City, Ga.) has been a “stronghold” on the back line for GC, as the former All-PBC selection has started 45 games coming into the season. She is “knowledgeable, strong and a leader on the back line” according to Clark.
New to the squad after transferring from the NAIA’s Auburn University Montgomery, Erica Padula (Panama City, Fla.) has the skillset to make an immediate impact in the scoring game. An imposing figure at 5-foot-10, Padula poured in 11 goals for the Senators in her freshman season, and has battled back from injuries to join her former coach at GC.
Outstanding defender Jamie Colcord (Marietta, Ga.) returns for her third season as a starter, leading an experienced bunch of juniors. Colcord is “one of our best defenders. She can 1v1 defend, she’s strong in the air and needs to utilize her speed more to get into the attack.”
Dixie Robinson (Conyers, Ga.) joins the team as the second of three transfers from AUM. An all-conference first team honoree as a sophomore, Robinson will bolster the defensive line if she can recover from an injury. “She has spent in essence a year and a half away from soccer,” said Clark. “Look for her to anchor the back line with her speed and strength in the air.”
Forward Haley O’Hayer (Savannah, Ga.) returns with great vocal leadership skills, speed athleticism and work rate. She netted her first career goal last year.
A “tremendous student-athlete”, Olivia Holden (Fishers, Ind.) will take her talents back to the midfield, as a knowledgeable player, one of the more fit individuals on the soccer team.
Leah Frazer (Mississauga, Ontario) has two years of eligibility left after an injury redshirt in 2010. Boasting a “powerful leg that can finish from a distance” Frazer hopes to regain the form from her freshman season, a year that saw her tally a pair of assists in 17 starts.
Brittaney Borror (Evans, Ga.) is a talented scorer, leading GC a season ago in both points (13) and assists (5). “Brittaney is a tremendous asset for the team,” said Clark. “She is strong both physically and in her goal-scoring ability. Her challenge is to broaden her game, to become more dynamic and versatile.”
Forward Alex Knight (Loganville, Ga.) has a tremendous motor. Knight (1g, 1a) is a “strong tactical player, who finds seams well and is savvy on the ball.”
Midfielder Taylor Yee (Johns Creek, Ga.) had an impactful freshman season, showing considerable leadership skills and covering a lot of ground with exceptional fitness. Clark will need her to up her solid three goal, two assist numbers from her rookie campaign.
Newcomer Susan Lotyczewski (Sharpsburg, Ga.) played one season for AUM, and was dominant on the defensive line. Clark coached the defender in her youth soccer days, and likens her skill set to All-PBC honoree Tawny Moffat. Lotyczewski is “dominant in the air, and a strong vocal leader”.
Anna Barrow (St. Simons, Ga.) comes in with nine games of action from 2010, and showed some growth in her freshman year. A versatile player, she will battle in the midfield picture this season.
Forward Katie Taylor (Sharpsburg, Ga.) started like a house of fire in 2010, finishing with a team-high five goals and two assists. Taylor’s main asset is her speed, and she’ll be counted upon to step up production in 2011.
Forward Allie Schechner (Wading River, N.Y.) has exceptional strength and size, and good finish ability, a good skill set to battle in a crowded front line.
A 5-foot-9 rookie, Annie Stephens (Fayetteville, Ga.) will also challenge for the vacant goalkeeper spot. Clark has known Stephens since she was a 12 years old, serving as her youth club coach. At 5-foot-10, Taylor Cornelius (Dacula, Ga.) has the right frame for goalkeeper, is “exceptional with her feet” and will compete for the starting spot. Michelle DeMaris (Suwanee, Ga.) had a great run with her North Gwinnett High team, advancing to the finals. “A raw player with great athleticism and quickness” DeMaris has only been a goalkeeper for a short time and yet has a legitimate chance to start.
Defender Kelly O’Mahoney (Mandeville, La.) is the first GC recruit from Louisiana. An “all-around athlete” with a legacy of success in her soccer background, O’Mahoney is expected to start at an outside back spot. Marissa Medina (Sharpsburg, Ga.) is a strong, physical defender. She will challenge on the back line with her ability and physicality. A left-footed defender, Kessler Matheson (Martinez, Ga.) will become involved in the defense right away, thanks to her savvy on the ball, good 1v1 skills and increased speed.
Macon, Ga. native Lindsey Knott is a strong attacking midfielder, with good size and field vision that can help the offense switch the point of attack. Dubbed as “feisty” by her Bobcat coach, Tatum O’Keefe (Buford, Ga.) has great speed and utilizes that to get in behind the back line from a midfield spot. Ashley Veilleux (Monroe, Ga.) has speed to go with a strong soccer background. Solid at “breaking down 1v1”, she will factor in at a midfield flank.
A healthy Erin Griffin (Lawrenceville, Ga.) would be a great tool on the front line, as she brings strength in size and physicality. Playing for strong club teams, she has goal scoring ability, but battles back from a recent injury. Abby Dalton (Macon, Ga.) is an outstanding finisher. The forward utilizes her speed and strength to compete, putting together a strong high school and club career, scoring 103 goals in three high school seasons.
The Bobcats take to the field Friday, Sept. 2, battling Lenoir-Rhyne University at the Tusculum Tournament in Tennessee. The first home contest comes a week later, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m., when GC faces Wingate University in game two of the Bobcat Shootout.