Aug. 17, 2006
Entering his fourth season at the helm of the Washington State women's soccer program, head coach Matt Potter continues to build a solid and competitive program as he looks to take Cougar soccer to the postseason.
Potter's 2005 Cougars won 11 matches for just the sixth time in school history and finished the season with an overall record of 11-7-2, the best WSU finish since 2002. The Cougar defense also made its mark in 2005 blanking eight opponents to record the most shutouts since 1994.
"The foundation of the past two seasons, the depth and talent of the squad and the dedication to developing the group since the end of last fall should make for an exciting 2006 season," Potter said. "We are clearly moving closer to our goal of being an elite women's program. To fulfill that aim, we need to consistently perform on the field and with that comes an individual accountability and willingness to step forward when needed. We have focused on key aspects that will make the transition of the fall easier and will continue to prepare accordingly."
Potter is joined on the Cougar soccer staff by fourth year assistant Lindsey Jorgensen and welcomes first year assistant Erin Otagaki. Jorgensen continues to assists with all coaching duties with her main focus on the training and development of the goalkeeping unit, while Otagaki spearheads WSU's recruiting efforts.
"We have an environment both on and off the field that we believe is second to none in terms of support, direction and commitment," Potter continues. "Players and staff alike now have the responsibility to make the most of those resources and to develop and contribute as complete members of the team."
The 2006 Washington State roster is filled with new names and veterans alike as the squad welcomes 13 newcomers and returns 14 letterwinners. The Cougars return seven starters from 2005 leaving room for the talented freshman class to make an immediate impact.
The Cougar frontline faces the departure of all of last season starters, returning just one forward who saw significant playing time in 2005. Sophomore Megan Hyte tallied five goals last year and looks to pace the Washington State offense. Hyte is joined by fellow sophomore Natalie D'Amico and juniors Brooke Bemis and Kim Bonnes. Potter will also look to newcomers Caitlyn Bersing, Kiersten Dallstream and Allison Fisher to contribute to the Cougar attack.
"We lost a group responsible for a large percentage of our goals but also a group who showed swagger and the ability to lead from the front as well as in team aspects such as fitness," Potter said. "Opportunity is there for players within the program to blossom and for incoming players to compete from day one. Potentially, we could be better than ever before if players are fit, understand the job requirements and invest in the team. Individually, the group has a wealth of talent and contrasting styles which will be a great benefit. It is a group known for scoring goals and, with that said, we will look for them to pick up where others have left off in leading the group in assists and scoring"
The WSU midfield returns a solid core of starters and contributors including juniors Molly Alexander, Natalie Elkind, Shaye Harrel and Anna Miller, along with senior Sasha Baines. Four talented new faces enter the fray as freshmen Caeli Abeyta, Mallory Fox, Carly Dobratz and Elysse Van Leer look to make their presence known at the collegiate level.
"Versatility and competition for playing time will be at an all time high," Potter enthused. "We possess both dynamic players able to attack or defend and personalities that can excel in any role. Within the group we have players capable of scoring goals and that will be an important aspect of our midfield if we are to fulfill our expectations. We return players who have steadily established themselves over time and we have a group of talented incoming players which will compete to play. It will be exciting to see who excels and rises to the challenge."
The Washington State defense returns two starters with senior Angela Fajardo and junior Allison Scurich set to anchor a traditionally strong Cougar backline. Junior Jessica Martinez and sophomore Alex Butler round out the 2006 returnees. The upperclassmen welcome newcomers Jamie Abrahamson, Caitlin Bonney, Jenny Christoph, Maggie Dougher and Laura Powell.
"Replacing established players is never easy," Potter said. "With the talent and depth of this group, we have created an environment whereby we have the potential to be as strong as ever. We are steadily making a name for ourselves as being tough to score on but can still improve in the goals against category and in the number of assists and goals this group contributes to the team. Along with the keepers, it is this group that sets the tone for toughness and presence and this group has the ability to be the best to date."
Junior Brynn Bemis and freshman Amber Wittmers step into the Cougar net determined to fill the void left by three-year starting keeper Katie Hultin. Hultin finished her Cougar career ranked first in shutouts (21), second in saves (248), and third in wins (23).
"In Brynn and Amber we have two wonderful choices," Potter said. "Brynn, having been here through the previous year, has waited patiently for her opportunity and has set the bar high, while Amber has been impressive in her final club season. Both have the presence, ability and work ethic to be great collegiate keepers. I'm sure the training sessions will be intense and bright as they compete for the starting job and look to improve on our totals for shutouts and goals against in a season."