Women's Soccer Preview: ODU Hosts NC State Friday in Season Opener

August 16, 2012
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 16, 2012

NORFOLK, Va. - Old Dominion University women's soccer opens the regular season on Friday against NC State at the ODU Soccer Stadium. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. Below is a season preview.

Season Preview

Old Dominion University women's soccer has undergone some changes leading up to the 2012 season. The loss of five starters from last seasons campaign is one that stands out, but so does the addition of seven exciting newcomers and two new assistant coaches to keep the level of enthusiasm of Lady Monarch soccer at an all-time high.

"We're very excited right now, its good to have new energy and new voices," head coach Joe Pereira said. "The biggest thing we're doing is embracing change. From schemes, to new coaches and the newcomers, its been really good in regards to that."

Despite the loss of six seniors, ODU returns a solid crop of upperclassmen including five seniors and eight juniors, three of which are redshirts.

"We had a very good first outing in the exhibition against Maryland, we're very deep, we played 21 players in the game," Pereira said. " We will be a very different team than we were last year."

The Lady Monarchs returning scoring leader from a year ago in senior Ashlee Coutu. Coutu had five goals and 10 points and is 10th in school history with 16 career goals. She will receive help up front from fellow senior Kelly Evans, who has been a consistent force playing in each game (56 total) the last three years.

The two seniors will get help from a pair of sophomores in Taylor Smith and Jessie Klamut. Klamut, the two-time All-Tidewater Player of the Year, appeared in all 19 games last year making four starts while Smith also played in all but two games and scored two goals.

"Jessie has serious upside and we're looking for her to step up and be a big player for us," Pereira said.

Taylor Mertz emerged in spring practice as a player to move into the attacking zone after playing her first three years on defense.

"We used Taylor in the spring up top and it was very encouraging watching her there," Pereira said. "We're going to start with her on our left flank as an attacking player. She gives us a lot on that side."

ODU looks to have the middle of the field under control with a trio of experienced players in Meghan Cozens and Hallie Rogers. Cozens started the first four games last year before a knee injury cut her season short. Rogers made a strong return from an injury the year before, recording a goal and an assist in all 19 games and made eight starts.

"The middle of the field is probably where we have the most back, with Meghan coming back, Hallie is back, as well as newcomers Devin Dougherty, Kelly Farrell and Brooke Boland." Pereira said. " We're looking to be very deep there."

The Lady Monarchs will feature a back line with no seniors, but will have veteran leadership in juniors Amber Cook and Nikki Clarke.

"Its huge to have them two back there and we've also gotten a huge boost from Sara Brock who had a great spring and is looking really good back there," Pereira said. "Sarah Price is a newcomer that has been solid back there as well as Caroline Survill on the right side. This was an area hit hard my graduation and we knew we had to piece it together and their coming along nicely."

With the back line of defense being young, the goalkeeping is the opposite with two senior goalkeepers in Brianna Alvarado and Laura Bush. Alvarado started every game last year but Bush has experience as well playing in 15 career games.

"The only thing we ask is to bring that experience to the table," Pereira said of his goalkeepers. "We need them to play focused for 90 minutes. I think we're going to be good there. Brianna was good against Maryland in the exhibition and we're going to need that kind of play during the year."

There have been several changes and additions, but Pereira is pleased with how far the squad has come in just a short amount of time.

"We feel pretty good how quickly we've embraced all this. We understand this is a process, it may take us a little time but we really like the direction we're going with it."

Around Campus with Monarch Media
ODUSports.com and Monarch Media will do weekly features with the Lady Monarchs throughout the season. The features will be covered around the beautiful Old Dominion campus. The first video features senior Ashlee Coutu at the Student Recreation Center.