(Photo: Harkins talks to his new team.)
While the Mount Aloysius women’s soccer team hopes to score a lot of goals in 2011, they are focusing on one goal in particular: Continue to improve.
After tripling their total number of victories last year from the previous year, and reducing their margin of defeat from 5 goals per game to just over 2 goals per game, the team is ready to take another step forward.
The responsibility of continuing to progress the women’s program will fall upon new head coach Jeremy Harkins.
Harkins is a Hollidaysburg native, who played collegiately at Grace College in Indiana. He previously coached the U-19 team in the Spring Cove AYSO and was an assistant coach at Central High School.
He began working with his new team last week during the Lady Mounties pre-season camp. So far, the new mentor likes what he sees.
“Overall, they are doing really well,” Harkins said. “I am encouraged by the team’s camaraderie and work ethic.”
Harkins singled out what he believes to be particularly strong leadership from returning players Tanya Bibby and twin Sara Bibby (Windber, PA/ Windber HS), and sisters Whitney Johnson and Nicola Johnson (Altoona, PA/Great Commission). The quartet anchored the Lady Mounties defense in 2010, and will be expected do so again this year.
“Our leaders have been phenomenal. They are the moral support of the team and are really unifying us,” Harkins said.
The Lady Mounties also return their top three scorers, as well as their starting goalkeeper.
Sophomore Brittany Weidenhammer (Reading, PA/Schuylkill Valley HS) was the team’s leading scorer in 2010 with 12 points. She finished the season ranked seventh in the AMCC in shots per game.
Sophomore Emily Burget (Bellwood, PA/Bellwood-Antis HS) and Junior Pamela Pride (Clearfield, PA/Clearfield HS) tied for second on the team in scoring, with each scoring six points.
Bishop Guilfoyle graduate Bethany Cocola (Alexandria, PA) will once again be the team’s primary goalkeeper. She led the conference in saves per game last season, and ranked fifth in save percentage, stopping a respectable 78% of the shots she faced.
Nicole Schweinsberg (Pittsburgh, PA/West Allegheny HS ), Danielle Garman (Johnstown, PA/Johnstown HS), and Lara Appiah (Accra, Ghana/ GCI) round out the Lady Mounties returnees.
As far as newcomers are concerned, freshman Elizabeth Josephson has definitely caught the new coach’s eye. Her noticeable on-field presence has not escaped the attention of her older teammates, either.
“Elizabeth is really good and it shows,” Nicola Johnson, the Lady Mounties lone senior, said. “She is only a freshman, but she does not play like it. She could very easily be our best player.”
Josephson is a graduate of Philipsburg-Oseola, where she earned first team all-Mountain League honors for Coach Avis Ritter.
Kate McAndrews (Altoona, PA/Altoona HS) is another freshman Harkins expects to be a contributor on the field.
“The biggest thing for our kids is where their hearts are. They have a desire to give it their all and get better. That is going to be our biggest strength,” Harkins said.
The Lady Mounties will open their season on September 3rd, when they host Penn State-Harrisburg for a 1:00 pm kickoff.