Women’s Soccer Team Moves Up in Rankings, Sets Season Sights High

By Purnell T. Cropper | September 16, 2011

Arcadia’s women’s soccer team moves up to fourth in the mid-Atlantic DIII regional rankings this week after an impressive outing last weekend at the Drew University tournament, and earned votes in the NSCAA National Rankings as well.

After last year’s impressive 15-4-1 finish, the team is looking to improve its record and and rankings this year, aiming for a berth in the NCAA tournament. Along the way, Arcadia will face Messiah College, which has been the top DIII team in the country for the past several years and has earned the MAC Conference Championship for six years running.

Coach Rick Brownell believes this year’s lineup has enough depth and a strong core of returners to make those improvements. “Having battled so many top opponents, our history has been to defend as a unit and attack with pressure,” says Brownell. “This year’s team may bring with it a vigor and variety that we’ve not seen before, allowing us to play different formations that may give us deeper advantages as the season progresses.”

Though the team outscored their opponents 37-17 in 2010, Brownell wants to see improvement made on the Knight’s attacking game while continuing to better the defensive organization.

This year’s incoming class could be collectively the strongest in Arcadia University women’s soccer history,” says Brownell of the four new transfer students and five incoming first-year players. “However, having so many new players could be challenging to get our team consistently winning and on the right track. The conference is tough with many highly competitive teams and then there’s always national powerhouse, Messiah, to go through. We are confident that if we stay healthy, we could make it to the conference finals again and hopefully grab our first Commonwealth Championship.”

New to the team this year are strong attackers, Alexandra Davis ’13 and Samantha Davis ’14, who are collectively referred to as “the Davis Twins” by teammates. When they transferred to Arcadia, they were initially unable to participate in the 2010-2011 season due to medical concerns. They are now cleared and ready to play.

Katie Bauer ’14, who transferred to Arcadia as a second semester first-year student last spring will also help lead a strong attack this season. Brownell has big plans for Bauer defensively and through the midfield. Kaitlin Barry ’13, who transferred here for her junior year from Wesley College was one of Wesley’s top strikers for the two years she played there.

New to the Knights is central defender Alex Stoner ’15, from Elkton, Md., and Nina Barbieri ’15 and Kim Canfield ’15, who are from the same area of Hillsborough, N.J., and have been good friends for years. Barbieri is an excellent passer, while Canfield enjoys her success on the outside midfield with good speed and an excellent nose for the goal. Anastasia Stratton ’15 has been making a big impact in preseason training as a playmaker in the central midfield. And new goalkeeper Veronica Willig ’15 is a powerhouse straight from a highly successful season with Penn Manor High School, only one win shy of the state title.

Returning seniors and juniors will be called upon to make big contributions. This year’s starting lineup includes All-Conference midfielder and team captain Brittany Drosdak ’12, as well as midfielder and striker Ashley Knueppel ’12, who tied for lead in goals in 2010.

Goalkeeper Jackie Law ’13, who earned her second consecutive All Commonwealth Team nod last year, added nine more shutouts in 2010, giving her a career mark of 20, the program’s record for career shutouts. In 2010, her .82 goals against average ranked fourth in the league, .841 and she allowed just 14 opponent and has one to her credit, scoring her first collegiate goal as a field player in a win over Cedar Crest.

Having compiled a 91-48-18 career overall record, Brownell has led his team into post-season play in each of his eight seasons as head coach, making four conference finals appearances and earning a league title that came in 2005 when the Knights competed in the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (PAC).

The Commonwealth Conference schedule begins Friday, Oct. 2, at home versus Albright, and then the team goes head-to-head with defending league and national champion Messiah College at Grantham, Pa., on Friday, Oct. 9. The Knights visit Widener in Chester, Pa., on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The league championships commence on Tuesday, Nov. 1, with the semifinals and Saturday, Nov. 5, as the title game.