Talk about turnover.
In 2015, the Edinboro women's soccer team must not only replace the production and leadership of six senior starters from last year’s squad, including the program’s first ever All-American, Becca Costello. The Scots also lost goalkeeper Meghan Kelly, who set a program record for victories with 26 and lost Liz Debo, the all-time goal scorer in program history, finishing her career with 38 goals.
Although it sounds like a major overhaul, head coach Gary Kagiavas believes the new group of leaders will be able to handle the duties in a fine manor.
“We have to replace, I want to say seven starters from last year,” Kagiavas said. “This is why coaches have sleepless nights, right? However, the captains we have in place, I think are more than able to lead by example, lead on the field, lead as people and I look forward to their time being as impressive as the people that we lost.”
As far as returners, senior midfielder and second team all-PSAC performer Jansen Hartmann registered a career-high 16 points last season, a figure that led the Scots as a team. Sophomore forwards Ashley Mutkus (16 starts) and junior Alex Brown (started all 19 matches) each finished 2014 with 13 points with Brown also leading the team at five assists.
The Fighting Scots were picked seventh out of a 17-team PSAC for the preseason coaches’ poll after finishing the 2014 campaign with a 10-7-2 overall record as Edinboro concluded the year 9-5-2 in conference affairs.
“We speak about how much we lost and yet we were still voted seventh, which is out of 17 schools, in the third most difficult conference in the country,” Kagiavas said frankly. “Clearly people have respect for our program. It’s kind of nice that they respect us that much, but at the same time I’m not sure if they are correct.”
Playing three of their first five contests on the road a season ago, Edinboro came out of the gates slowly with a 0-4-1 start, which included an overtime loss and a double overtime draw to begin the year.
Although the Scots would follow that stretch with a seven game winning streak, just one win shy of breaking a school record for consecutive wins, Kagiavas wants to see a better start this year from his squad.
“This year’s starting team Clarion [is] a bit different,” Kagiavas said. “Notre Dame of Ohio is the number one team in the other region, so we’ll find out exactly what we’re made of there and then we get into the meat and potatoes of our schedule. I’m hoping we can at least be 2-0 before we get the Ship game. I think Ship and Millersville are going to be tough.”
After narrowly missing out on the NCAA tournament a year ago, breaking a streak of four straight trips to the NCAA’s, Kagiavas believes the standards and expectations should be getting back to those heights.
“I honestly believe, if we don’t have too many injuries, I think at the end we could be there,” Kagiavas said. “As long as we get in the tournament, I think we can beat anybody; we really can. I think for us, it all determines how long it takes us to gel. Winning the conference is definitely a reality.”
Edinboro opens up the 2015 season on Thursday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. at Clarion University before returning home to debut at Sox Harrison Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5 at 1 p.m. against Notre Dame College (Oh.).
The Scots remain home for their following two contests as they host Shippensburg on Friday, Sept. 11 at 1 p.m. and Millersville on Saturday, Sept. 12 at noon.
Mike Fenner is a staff writer for The Spectator. He can be found on Twitter at Fenner_6.