Aug. 28, 1997

Women's Soccer 1997 Season Outlook

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Senior tri-captain Maura McGhee who totaled 20 points last season will be the Wildcats main offensive force once again.

Coming off a 1996 record of 8-11-1, the Villanova women's soccer team's first year head coach Ann Clifton will look to bring a new system and attitude to the team this season with hopes of setting new precedent in Wildcat soccer. Clifton sees a lot of promise and determination in her new team and is looking forward to the coming season.

"The 1997 Wildcats are a close group of driven athletes who will be prepared for the competitive schedule that lies ahead of them," said new head coach Ann Clifton.

The preseason will be the base for developing a possession style team with the ability to attack and for strengthening a defense which will build out of the back focusing its attack on possession of the ball.

One key determinent of success in 1997 will be how quickly the 'Cats can learn the system of their new coach. Clifton believes the team is going to need to be flexible with implementation of the new system, inabling them to hold on to tradition as the foundation for the future. The greatest challenges the 1997 Wildcats will face involve not just the adjustment to a new coaching staff, but also adjusting to the aggressive schedule that lies ahead of them. The Cats' schedule is filled with games against top 20 programs and the team is confident that they will be competitive with each of their opponents.

"We hope to be a threat to all of our opponents and make an impression with the NSCAA/Umbro Regional Poll," Clifton said.

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Senior tri-captain Beth McCaffrey will lead the Wildcat defense in 1997.

A group of strong returning lettermen are the heart and soul of the Wildcats that will be contributing to the success for this coming season. The strength of the 'Cats offense will be based on the playing of Maura McGhee, Molly Bushman, and Lauren Sellers. McGhee was second on the Wildcat team in points with 20, on eight goals and four assists. Bushman was also a force on offense contributing 10 points on three goals and four assists.

Although the defense lost several key players, there are two starters returning who will be looked on to lead this squad in 1997. Seniors Beth McCaffery and Stephanie Shields both contributed to the solid defense played last season and will be expected to do the same this season. The starter in goal will again be Jeanne Hennessy who finished last season with a record of 7-9-1. Hennessy had a goals against average of 2.30 and saved .798 percent of the shots she faced. Other goalkeepers that will see playing time this season are Diana Anes and Shelagh O'Hagan.

Although the Cats have lost some significant seniors, a strong incoming class is expected to be a great asset to the team. Justina Smith and Stephanie Schmucker will both be contributors to the team's defensive unit, with Alicia Nalevanko and Anne Marie Fallow as threats on the offensive side of the ball. With a new coaching staff and the implementation of a new system, the 1997 Wildcats will have quite a challenge ahead of them. Clifton seems confident however, that the girls will adapt well and have a successful 1997 season.

Women's Soccer Quick Facts

HEAD COACH:           Ann Clifton
YEAR:                 1st
1995 RECORD:          8-11-1
CONFERENCES:          Big East  
1994 BIG EAST RECORD: 5-5
ASSISTANTS:           Jeff Leightman
SID CONTACT:          Eileen Walsh
SOCCER OFFICE PHONE:  (610) 519-4130

"The underlying theme to the 1997 version of the team will be work ethic and the belief that we will not be outworked," said Clifton. If this ethic is instilled and the team adapts quickly to the new coaching staff, this new year will bring new found success to the Villanova women's soccer team.

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