2015 ACC Women’s Soccer Preview
2014 Individual Awards
Conference Tournament Champion: Florida State
Coach of the Year: Mark Krikorian, Florida State
Offensive Player of the Year: Dagny Brynjarsdottir, Sr., M, Florida State
Midfielder of the Year: Danielle Colaprico, Sr., M, Virginia
Defensive Player of the Year: Kristin Grubka, Sr., D, Florida State
Freshman of the Year: Megan Buckingham, Fr., F, North Carolina
Teams (2014 overall, conference record)
Florida State (24-1-1, 9-0-1)
The Seminoles ruled from start to finish in 2014. After tying for the regular season title with the Tar Heels, the unstoppable Seminole machine bested Virginia in both the ACC conference tournament championship game and in the national title bout. With the monkey finally off head coach Mark Krikorian’s back, he’ll be looking to make a fifth straight College Cup despite the loss of some key figures like Kristin Grubka and Dagny Brynjarsdottir. There is talent and depth back, of course, with Cheyna Williams leading the line, German Isabella Schmid one of the nation’s most underrated midfielders and Cassie Miller in goal for her sophomore season.
North Carolina (14-3-2, 9-0-1)
Since the program began, North Carolina has never failed to win a national title at least once in the span of three seasons. With the last crown coming in 2012, the Tar Heels are due to either win it all or snap their streak. Pressure and expectation are embraced on Chapel Hill, and there’s a deep and talented roster returning. Katie Bowen will be one of the senior leaders, providing stability in either midfield or defense. Between returning starters like Megan Buckingham, Joanna Boyles, Jessia Scarpa, and talented newcomers such as Dorian Bailey and Julia Ashley, UNC could certainly put something special together.
Virginia (23-3-0, 9-1)
The Cavaliers enter the 2015 season with a good news/bad news storyline hanging over their head. The good news, is that they lost just two starters from last year’s side. The bad? Those players were Morgan Brian and Danielle Colaprico, who were pretty good. But with Emily Sonnett, Brittany Ratcliffe and Makenzy Doniak back in the fold for their senior season, and an extremely talented freshmen class that includes Betsy Brandon, Courtney Petersen, Mia Hoen-Beck and Hana Kerner – to name a few – head coach Steve Swanson should have enough to compete in the ACC this fall.
Notre Dame (14-5-2, 7-2-1)
Life under new head coach Theresa Romagnolo last fall went pretty well, as the Irish maintained a high level thanks to its strong crop of talent. And a lot of those same players are back, including the formidable spine of the team, featuring Cari Roccaro, Katie Naughton and Kaela Little in goal. If Notre Dame ramp up the attack and become consistently dangerous going forward – look for English sophomore Karin Muya to have a big year – challenging for a conference crown isn’t out of the question.
Clemson (13-3-3, 6-3-1)
Expectations are ramping up in Clemson after the team’s first NCAA tournament in seven years last season. And with little turnover, the Tigers are once again a difficult out, led by goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan, defender Claire Wagner, midfielders Abby Jones, Alli Kington and last year’s leading scorer Catrina Atanda. Defensively, the team conceded only 10 goals in 19 games, and will once again lean on that strength.
Virginia Tech (16-5, 5-5)
Two years removed from a College Cup appearance, the Hokies are as dangerous as ever. Ashley Meier and Murielle Tiernan are once again their two players to keep an eye on, while Jordan Coburn provides stability at the back. The team’s attack was prolific a year ago, scoring 62 times, but they’ll need to be better in conference play, scoring just 17 times in those 10 games.
Duke (8-9-1, 4-5-1)
Over the past couple of seasons, injuries have hindered the Blue Devils, as they’ve taken a step back from national title contender status. If they can keep healthy, Duke could certainly climb the ladder. Antionette Payne leads the attacking line along with Imani Dorsey, while Rebecca Quinn, Ashton Miller and Christina Gibbons provide strength in the spine. The incoming freshmen crop includes two of the nation’s top recruits in Taylor Racioppi and Kayla McCoy, who will help take the offense to another level.
Louisville (7-9-2, 3-5-2)
It’s a big test this fall for the Cardinals to prove that they can keep pace in the ACC. Scoring goals proved to be a big challenge a year ago, grabbing just 13 in 18 games overall; Louisville was shut out in five of their 10 league matches. With only six new faces joining the roster as freshmen, improvement will have to come from within, although expectations are high for first-year forward Jill Vetere.
Wake Forest (5-9-3, 3-5-2)
The slow rebuild continues for a young Demon Deacons squad that welcomed 12 players for 2015. If the new talent meshes with some of the old – including midfielder Sarah Teegarden, Maddie Huster and U.S. U20 hopeful Ally Haran.
Boston College (10-8-1, 3-6-1)
The return of McKenzie Meehan should provide a nice boost for the Eagles, who saw Hayley Dowd step up in her injured teammate’s absence during the 2014 season. The attacking duo should be able to help the Eagles keep up with the opposition, so if things tighten up at the back, it could aid BC to punch above its weight this season.
Syracuse (5-10-4, 2-7-1)
Can the Orange defy expectations and climb the ACC ladder? A lot of familiar faces return, with 17 back in the fold for the upcoming campaign. That includes 2014 leading scorer Stephanie Skilton, who scored eight goals. Improving in ACC play is key, after winning just two of 10 conference games and going five league games without scoring a goal.
Miami (FL) (4-13-1, 2-7-1)
The Hurricanes have work to do coming on the heels of a four-win season. Eight starters are back and eight newcomers are in the mix for head coach Mary Frances-Monroe. German Natalie Moik topped the team’s scoring chart last year with four goals and goalkeeper Catalina Perez spent the summer competing at the Women’s World Cup with Columbia, bringing valuable experience with her back to South Florida.
Pittsburgh (6-12, 2-8)
After being blanked in the ACC prior to 2014, the Panthers finally picked up victories in conference play with a pair of wins. Taking another step forward is an attainable goal to set, though the roster is young with just one senior and four juniors on it. Key attacking performers Roosa Arvas and Taylor Pryce are back and will look to enjoy more success this season, both individually and collectively.
NC State (2-15-2, 0-10)
This is a big season for Tim Santoro heading into his third year as the head coach in Raleigh. With the current state of recruiting, this is the first incoming class of freshmen the he was able to put together from start to finish with his staff. Along with returners Jenna Kalwa and a healthy Jackie Stengel (she played just three games in 2014), there’s good news in the schedule, as they avoid in-state rivals North Carolina, and matchup against lower table finishers like Pitt, Miami and Syracuse. The Wolfpack were also better than their results indicated last year, as more than half their losses were by one goal, so it might not take too much to trigger a big turnaround, at least from a win-loss perspective.