2012 Bulldog Soccer Season Preview
Charleston, S.C. – The Citadel soccer team will enter the 2012 season on Friday with just one senior on the roster, a stark difference from last year's team which dawned eight seniors, six of whom were four-year starters, but head coach Bob Winch emphasizes that there is no lack of leadership on this squad.
"Vanessa Aponte has really grown in terms of a leader. When she first came she was quiet and getting her a leadership role has really brought out more qualities that have made her more vocal on and off the field. She sets a great example with a strong work rate." said Winch. "This is also a young team with the potential to have some quality leaders in the group. Getting them to lead on the field though as freshmen is always a challenge. "
When the Bulldogs visit Charleston Southern on Friday, they will look to carry the momentum over from last season's thrilling 3-2 finale on Washington Light Infantry Field where they topped crosstown foe College of Charleston for the first time in program history.
The Citadel finished 5-11-3 (3-6-2 Southern Conference) in 2011 and when they open up conference play on Sept. 21 at home against rival Furman, they will begin to pave their path back to the SoCon Tournament for the second time in three seasons.
The Bulldogs have three goalkeepers on the roster, including lone senior and captain Cassie Palmacci. However the trio only accounted for 460 minutes last season through eight games.
"Without a doubt the most important position on the field," said Winch. "We need one of the three keepers to win the spot outright and lead the team to wins."
The backline will be young after graduating three four-year starters on defense in Shanna Couch, Hannah Warne and Leah Hawkins. Sophomore Grace Raines, who played in 18 games last year, will be the young leader in the backfield and communication will play a big role to start the attack.
"We will be very young in this position hence the importance of a quality goalkeeper," said Winch. "You need to be both intelligent and tough to play in these areas as it will be the starting point for our team in the attack."
Aponte, who was named team captain and preseason All-Southern Conference, along with Mariana Garcia, add good leadership and talent to the midfield. In just two seasons, the tandem has amassed 12 game winners, 30 goals and 73 points for the Bulldogs. Look for numerous program records to be broken by Garcia and Aponte this year.
"You need a lot of energy and stamina to play in the midfield and we will use this area to rotate players, said Winch. "We need to generate goals and assists from here as well as win balls back in defending."
The addition of strong legged freshman Jannel Johnson will help the Bulldogs in this area where the depth is lacking. Nicole Levermann, entering her third season, will help with the leadership at forward where the experience lacks.
"This will be the point position to beginning our attack and setting our defending," said Winch.
For more information on Bulldog soccer, find us on Twitter @CitadelWSoccer and Facebook or visit the official website of The Citadel Athletics, www.citadelsports.com.