Improved Scoring Abilities Key to Bruins Hopes for Increased Success in 2010
NEWBERG, Ore. - Despite losing one of the best offensive performers in George Fox University women’s soccer history, Jenny McKinsey, to graduation, veteran coach Andy Hetherington believes the Bruins will have enough firepower to show dramatic improvement over last year during the upcoming 2010 campaign.
McKinsey, a four-time All-Northwest Conference selection, including Second Team All-NWC last year, was seventh in the league with 19 points (seven goals, five assists). After playing at Pacific Lutheran University as a freshman, she ended her three-year George Fox career first in assists (20), second in points (80), and third in goals (30).
“Replacing Jenny will be difficult,” Hetherington admits, “but I am very happy with the players we have coming in up front, and we will need to have that offensive push if we are to improve.”
Three other starters are also gone from the 2009 lineup that went 7-12 overall and finished eighth in the conference at 4-11 (the final game of the season was postponed at halftime due to a flooded field with the Bruins leading 1-0 over PLU).
Leading the Bruin offense this fall will be All-NWC honorable mention forward Kirsten Cardwell (Sr., Springfield, Ore. / Thurston HS), who was eighth in the conference in points with 17 (seven goals, three assists). Entering her final year, she ranks sixth in goals (22) and seventh in points (53) at George Fox.
“Kirsten is one of our team co-captains who, with her strength and speed, will be counted on for some big goals this season,” says Hetherington.
Katelyn Peer (Jr., Chelan, Wash. / Chelan HS) had three goals and an assist as a reserve last season but was hampered most of the year by compartmental syndrome in her legs. “She will give us some valuable offense now that she is healthy following off-season surgery,” predicts Hetherington.
Newcomer Melanie Gaither (So., Vancouver, Wash. / Skyview HS), who played as a freshman at California Baptist University before attending Seattle Pacific University last year, “adds some real penetrating skills to our offense,” notes Hetherington. Also available are Roberts Wesleyan University transfer Cassady Gardner (Jr., Littleton, N.H. / Littleton HS) and Eunice Trujillo (Fr., Keizer, Ore. / Santiam Christian HS), who “round out the offensive line and give us some flexibility and options.”
“We’re excited to have a number of quality midfielders this year,” says Hetherington, beginning with returning starters Kassi Vanderkwaak (So., Chilliwack, B.C. / Unity Christian HS) and Esther Harder (So., Yamhill, Ore. / Yamhill-Carlton HS). Vanderkwaak had one goal and one assist last year, while Harder was third on the team in points with 11 (three goals, five assists).
“Kassi is the anchor of our midfield defense,” notes Hetherington, “while Esther is more of an offensive-minded mid; she is industrious and a great ball-winner.”
The Bruins’ middle will be fortified by the return of Corin Kruse (So., Wilsonville, Ore. / Wilsonville HS), a starter as a freshman two years ago who sat out last year. Says Hetherington, “Corin brings lots of quickness and ball distribution skills to our midfield.”
Hetherington will be able to call upon returnee Mikayla Todd (So., Boise, Idaho / Boise HS), who appeared in six games last year, along with four new midfielders: juco transfers Shannon Olson (Jr., San Diego, Calif. / Santa Fe Christian HS), Cori Jo Young (Jr., Ridgefield, Wash. / Ridgefield HS), and Molly Norton (So., Orange, Calif. / Orange HS), and rookie Blaykne Pederson (Fr., Graham, Wash. / Cascade Christian HS). Olson played at Montreat College and Mira Costa College, Young at Spokane Community College, and Norton at Orange Coast College.
“Shannon is a true playmaker who will strengthen our midfield with her play-making abilities,” observes Hetherington. “C.J. adds stability and strength, and Molly is an outside mid who is hard-working and quick. Blaykne is a utility player who gives some options, along with Mikayla on the outside.”
The George Fox defense is spearheaded by First Team All-NWC defender Nicole Akiu (Sr., Honolulu, Hawai’i / Kamehameha HS) on the outside and team co-captain Melissa Leighty (Sr., Canby, Ore. / Canby HS) in the middle. Each has been a three-year starter for the Bruins.
“Nicole is one of the quickest players in the conference,” notes Hetherington, “a very skilled player whom we can use just about anywhere. Melissa gives us speed, composure, and experience.”
Returning starter Jordan Haselnus (So., Gresham, Ore. / Gresham HS),who had two goals and three assists last season, “is a terrific asset who will be a superb outside back after playing midfield in high school,” says Hetherington. Returnee Erin Moriki (So., Kaneohe, Hawai’i / Hawai’i Baptist Academy) “gives us great speed and aggression on either side of the line.”
Sarah Brase (Fr., Ft. Collins, Colo. / Heritage Christian Academy) brings the Bruins “intelligence and speed anywhere on the back line,” comments Hetherington. Melissa Cousins (Jr., Corvallis, Mont. / Corvallis HS) is a returnee with “strength and marking ability”, while newcomer Korey Hehn (Fr., Prineville, Ore. / Crook County HS) “gives us depth and control in the holding midfield position.”
In the net, Becka Doyle (Jr., Portland, Ore. / David Douglas HS) returns after allowing a goals-against average of 1.41 per game with 62 saves and three shutouts last fall, with Alyssa Montero (Fr., Hermosa Beach, Calif. / Mira Costa HS) waiting in the wings.
“Becka gives us experience and stability,” notes Hetherington. “Alyssa is an outstanding goalie and we are delighted to have her in between the sticks.”
Despite the presence of some veteran offensive players, it was still a rebuilding year for us in 2009 with six freshman starters,” remarks Hetherington. “This year, we should have more depth and balance as we hope to improve to a point where we’re even more competitive with the rest of the league. We also have a brand-new field, the Austin Sports Complex, which will help usher in a new era for George Fox soccer, and we’re excited to be a part of it.”
The season gets under way for the Bruins on Thursday, Sept. 2, at 7:00 p.m. at home against Northwest University. The game will be part of a doubleheader with the George Fox men’s soccer team, which hosts the Oregon Institute of Technology at 4:00 p.m. Between games at 6:00 p.m., a dedication ceremony will be held for the Bruins’ new soccer facility, which features synthetic turf, lights for night games, and bleacher seating for 750.