#44 La Salle Women's Soccer 2012 Preview

La Salle University Explorers

2012 Overall Rank: #44
Conference Rank: #2 Atlantic 10 Conference
La Salle Women's College Soccer 2012 Team Preview
La Salle Team Page


The La Salle Women’s Soccer team is looking forward to another strong season in 2012 after finishing with their best ever performance in 2011. The Explorers went undefeated in the regular season, which afforded them the title of Atlantic 10 regular season champions. After falling to UMass in the conference tournament semifinals—and thereby losing the chance at an automatic NCAA bid—they were awarded one of the coveted 34 at-large NCAA playoff spots. The team will welcome back several strong returners in key positions as well as a talented and dynamic incoming freshman class.

2011 Record: 15-2-3, 7-0-2
2011 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Paul Royal

The Explorers will expect strong offensive performances from returning players Kelsey Haycook (sophomore, F), and Renee Washington (junior, M), the team’s first and second leading scorers last season. Both earned second team All-American and first team NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region Team honors in 2011, and Haycook was also named the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year. Joining the pair as an incoming freshman will be Kelsey Celline of Warminster, PA (Archibishop Wood); according to the press release announcing this year’s signings, Coach Royal believes she will be “an immediate impact player in the Atlantic 10.”

The Explorers also finished the 2011 season ranked 7th in the nation for shutout percentage and 13th in the nation for goals-against average. The team’s defensive excellence should continue in the 2012 season with three of the four starting defensive backs—Diana Allen (senior), Ashley Chilcoat (junior) and Shannon Dwyer (sophomore)—returning to anchor the back line. La Salle hopes to fill the void left by graduated senior defensive back, Jess Hopton, with incoming freshman Hunter Filippo, also an Archbishop Wood standout. In the same signings announcement noted above, Coach Royal compares Filippo’s “strength, athleticism and ability to dominate opposing forwards” with Hopton’s.
This year La Salle has an immediate need to fill the starting goalkeeper spot vacated by Melissa Sanger upon graduating. Sanger was named the Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Year and also earned second team NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region Team honors, allowing only six goals during the team’s illustrious 2011 campaign, so her successor undoubtedly has large shoes to fill. Looking to the bench, La Salle has built a lot of depth to fill that role. Senior goalkeeper Gabrielle Pakhtigian, coming off an ACL injury that forced her to redshirt last season, is now healthy and fully intent on returning to the field. In 2010, Pakhtigian tied the school record for wins by a goalkeeper (11), tied for third in the number of shutouts in a season (4), and also earned the all-time eighth-lowest goals-against average, allowing only 1.49 goals per game. The Explorers may also look to returning keeper Jessica Wiggins (RS-freshman), University of Alabama—Birmingham transfer Katie Getzinger (sophomore), and incoming freshman Kelsey Yaiser.

Final Projection:
La Salle’s strengths this upcoming season will allow the team to compete for the top spot in the Atlantic 10. Last year’s devastating conference semi-final loss to UMass (whom La Salle bested on the road during the regular season) will motivate the team to come back with a fury this season. Without having lost any top players offensively, their scoring trend should continue into this season.  At the end of last season, in the conference, La Salle was second only to Dayton in points, goals, goals per game, assists, and assists per game. Looking forward, La Salle should also expect outstanding performances from the three players tied for third in points last year, Courtney Niemiec (junior, M/D), Maryam Huseini (sophomore, M), and Gabriella Carbone (sophomore, M/F). The three combined for 27 total points (evenly split), matching the total for the second place spot, held by Washington. More even distribution of the team’s points among Haycook (36 points), Washington, Niemiec, Huseini, and Carbone will ensure La Salle remains a dangerous attacking threat in the Atlantic 10 and serious contender for the conference championship in 2012.

Projected Postseason: NCAA

Returning Leaders:
Goals: Kelsey Haycook, Sophomore, F, 16
Assists: Renee Washington, Junior, M, 5
Shots: Renee Washington, Junior, M, 71
Saves: None