By: Sean Neidig, sports information graduate assistant
After finishing second-place in the Ohio Athletic Conference in 2016, Capital University Women's Soccer comes into 2017 with hopes of once again ending the season as OAC champions.
Most coaches would be happy with a second-place conference finish but expectations are high for third-year head coach Matt Ogden, who was not satisfied with how last season ended and expects more in the season to come.
"We're a very ambitious program," he said. "This has been a big focus on defining what we are, what we do, how we do it and hopefully we'll be better for last season's errors."
Throughout the preseason, the team has focused on the process of winning rather than trying to force results from games. With this new mindset, Ogden is hopeful that the players buy in to their culture and the wins will follow.
As in the past, the Crusaders will primarily use a 4-3-3 formation with an emphasis on possession and building up through the backline.
"We have the ability to string teams out," Ogden said. "We open up the field so we try to make the field as big as possible and try to exploit spaces we create. If teams do decide not to press us higher up the field and defend a little bit more, we become a little bit more composed in dealing with those situations. It definitely helps us get longer periods of possession, it helps us move the ball side to side so we enjoy it."
The team will once again be a young team with only six seniors, one junior, and 18 sophomores and freshmen on the roster. Sophomores Carlee Murry (Hilliard, Ohio/Hilliard Darby) and Jordan Fike (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Liberty) are back after scoring six and five goals, respectively, last season and will be depended on again to make things happen in the attack.
The six seniors though will be the ones that will provide leadership and mentoring to the younger players.
"They've been to a national tournament two out of their three years so for them it's very important that they share their knowledge with the younger kids," Ogden said. "They're fantastic players, they set a good example, they're wonderful teammates, they're very good leaders."
Caroline Hester (Milford, Ohio/Milford) scored four goals in her junior season as an All-OAC Honorable Mention defender and will be one of those seniors expected to lead by example.
The Crusaders are also welcoming in sophomore defender Allyssa Kimbler (London, Ohio/London) to the team following a transfer from Marshall University.
"It was a wonderful addition," Ogden said. "I coach club soccer and way back when, [when she was] 10, 11, 12 years old, I had the opportunity to coach this player so I have a history with her. We actually recruited her. We were fortunate enough that she reached back out to us."
Kimbler will join a defensive group that includes Hester and fellow sophomore Maggie Peddicord (Delaware, Ohio/Buckeye Valley) in front of junior goalkeeper Hannah Klotzsche (Avon, Ind./Avon). Klotzsche started 17 games in 2016, making 64 saves and allowing only 1.41 goals per game.
"She's communicating so much better than when she first came in with her backline, with her teammates," Ogden said. "We also brought in a freshman goalkeeper, Kelly Bachmann, who is a necessity for Hannah and Hannah is a necessity for Kelly because they're going to push each other. They're both very talented, they have different strengths and different weaknesses and their training has been wonderful."
The first opportunity to see the team's process unfold comes on Friday, Sept. 1 at 2:30 p.m. when they travel to Kenyon College. Fans' first chance to watch the Purple and White at Purmort Field at Bernlohr Stadium is on Tuesday, Sept. 5 against Thomas Moore University (Ky.) at 7 p.m. Conference season kicks off against Otterbein University on Sept. 30.