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The Virginia women’s soccer team enters the 2008 season looking to build its reputation as one of the nation’s elite programs. Coming off a season that ended with another top-10 ranking, a seventh trip to the NCAA Round of 16 in the past nine years, and featured numerous school records, the Cavaliers look poised for another strong campaign this year. Nine starters are among the 18 letterwinners that return and are joined by another highly-ranked recruiting class to comprise the 2008 roster.

“Overall, we have a lot of experience returning in some important positions on the field,” said head coach Steve Swanson. “Hopefully this experience will take the pressure off our incoming class initially and give them an opportunity to settle into roles and positions best suited to our needs as a team. Although we lost several key players to graduation, I am excited about the potential of this year’s team, especially given the quality of soccer we played during the spring. We have several young players who have worked hard and are ready to take on more of a prominent role within the team. We are excited about their impact and look forward to the challenge that comes from building a new team each season.”


The Cavaliers return one of the nation’s top goalkeepers in sophomore Chantel Jones. A first-team freshman All-American a season ago, she ranked second nationally with a school-record 0.408 goals against average and tied a school record with 13 shutouts. She also ranked among the top 10 in the nation in save percentage at .880. However, Jones might not be available for the Cavaliers this season if she is selected and decides to represent the United States at the U-20 World Cup.

“Chantel is one of those goalkeepers that doesn’t come along very often,” said Swanson. “She has a strong presence in goal. Her size and her athleticism, just her physical tools, are intimidating to opponents. She gives our whole team a lot of confidence. As strong as our defense was last season, we needed her to make some big saves in games and she did that consistently for us.”

If Jones plays for the US team that travels to Chile for the World Cup, Swanson will turn to either fourth-year Celeste Miles or first-year Sam Hale in goal. Miles has played over 100 shutout minutes over her first three seasons and got a majority of the minutes in goal during the spring season. Hale is a top goalkeeping recruit from southern California.

“If Chantel plays for the National Team, I think we are fortunate to have someone with Celeste’s abilities and leadership waiting in the wings,” said Swanson. “Although she hasn’t had a lot of game experience, our team has a lot of confidence in her. She is a good organizer, makes excellent decisions and is someone that you can count on to make saves at key moments in games. Although Sam is only a first-year, I feel she has all the tools, and most importantly the mindset, to develop into an outstanding goalkeeper. She is an extremely hard worker and will make everyone else around her better.”


Last season, the Cavaliers had the finest defensive season in school history. Virginia led the nation with a 0.40 goals against average and set school records with 15 shutouts and 10 goals allowed all season. Anchoring that group were center-backs Becky Sauerbrunn and Nikki Krzysik, both first-team All-Americans. Although Sauerbrunn graduated and was called in with the full National Team to several camps leading up to the Olympic Games, the Cavalier defensive group will be a talented and experienced unit this year. Krzysik, last season’s SoccerBuzz Region Player of the Year returns, as do fellow seniors and three-year starters Sarah Senty and Alex Singer.

“We are in a good situation in the back having three players with as much experience as Nikki, Sarah and Alex,” said Swanson. “If you add Alli Fries and Amanda Stewart to that group who are also in the same class, we have players who know one another well, know the system and who can form the foundation of another strong defensive line. Nikki Krzysik is a special player and is without a doubt one of the best players in the nation at her position. She competes as hard as any player I have coached, has excellent ball skills, is an exceptional ball winner and is also a tremendous leader. Alex and Sarah have been key members of our backline these past three years but seldom get the credit they deserve. Both are quality defenders, but the key for us is how much they add to our attacking game on the flanks. Each year is a new challenge in terms of building a defense that can play together as a team but in the players we have returning led by Nikki, Sarah and Alex we are confident we can maintain our ability to limit opponents chances against us.”

Senior Alli Fries has played both as a central defender and central midfielder in her career and has started in both positions. Sophomore Colleen Flanagan began last season as a starter in the defensive central midfield position before an injury kept her out of action for most of the season, but could move into a defensive role this year. Junior Amanda Stewart has played as an outside back over the past two seasons and redshirt freshman Katie Carr, who missed last season with a knee injury, is ready to make a presence for the Cavaliers this season.

“Alli is someone who has filled a number of roles for us during her time at Virginia,” said Swanson. “She made a big impact last season in the midfield for us and could play there or could also go back to her natural position in the center of defense, especially given the loss of Becky. Alli plays with a great deal of heart, is excellent in the air and is very experienced. Colleen is another option for us at central defense. She is also strong in the air and one of our best ball-winners. Her injuries limited her time last year, but when she was healthy she gave us a great presence defensively. Amanda has made some great strides over the last two seasons and we are optimistic she can play an even greater part in this year’s squad from the back. She is an incredible athlete with great speed and quickness and has worked hard over the past two seasons to improve her technical side. Katie has come back from missing last year and could impact our central defense. She had a good spring for us and gives a real steady presence in the back.”

Joining the defensive unit this year will be first-years Amanda Fancher and Katie Starsia. Fancher has experience with youth national teams and Starsia was a youth All-American.

“Amanda is coming off an excellent year with her club team and already has some experience playing at the highest levels of youth soccer,” said Swanson. “I feel like she can fill any role in the back for us and it is nice to have that flexibility. We have a lot of players that can play a number of different positions in the back. Katie is also another versatile player who we can use either in defense or up top. She has great range with her long ball and is also strong in the air. We could use Katie this season either in the back or up top as she also has played some forward throughout her career.”


Virginia enters this season with a talented and experienced corps of midfielders. Seniors Jen Redmond and Kelly Quinn, both three-year starters, return, as do All-ACC honorees Sinead Farrelly and Jess Rostedt. Quinn is the team’s top returning scorer after a seven-goal, two-assist campaign a season ago. Redmond battled through injuries throughout the season and finished with four assists, putting her near the Cavaliers’ career top-10 with 16 assists. Farrelly had a five-goal, four-assist rookie season and became the first Cavalier freshman in over a decade to earn first-team All-ACC honors. Rostedt, the team’s leading scorer in 2005 and 2006, and one of the most explosive players in the nation, returns after missing most of last year after suffering an injury in the first week of the season.

“It was tough losing Jess so early in the season last year since she was making such an impact for us in the midfield on both sides of the ball.” said Swanson. “The combination of Jess and Sinead in the midfield was very difficult for other teams to defend against. We are excited to have Jess back healthy again since she is one of the most creative playmakers in the country and someone we know can score or create chances for others. Sinead had an exceptional first year, and like Jess, is very special with the ball at her feet. She has an uncanny way of getting away from pressure and making defenders miss.

“At times Kelly Quinn has taken over games for us. She has a great work rate and is a superb athlete, but I do not think she gets enough credit for her technical ability. We used her up top a lot last year and she did a great job in terms of finishing. Her endurance, work rate and her ability to get forward make her ideally suited for the midfield and she will see time there this season as well as up top. The player we are most concerned about right now in the midfield is Jen Redmond since she has been fighting meniscus injuries for two years. Jen has been playing in pain for the past two seasons and if her knee is not 100 percent then we may opt to redshirt her this year. It will be tough to lose her since she has been such an integral part of our squad every year she has played, but it would make sense in the long run.”

Two players who provided depth last season return and will be expected to take on bigger roles this season. Sophomores Lindsey Miller and Kristin Bowers will look to see more minutes in the midfield than they did a season ago.

“Lindsey should be ready to take on much more of a role in the midfield this year,” said Swanson. “We need to sort out some roles based on who is healthy in the midfield, but Lindsey is a very offensive minded player that should give us some more options, especially if Jen cannot play this season. Kristin is another player coming off another significant injury, breaking both her tibia and fibia, who saw some time last year, but now with another year removed from her injury could provide more of an impact for us. Also, Alli Fries and Colleen Flanagan did a great job for us in the midfield last year and will also give us even more options this season.”


The Cavaliers enter the season needing to replace Shannon Foley, last season’s top scorer with 10 goals and nine assists ended her career as the school’s all-time assists leader. A group of veterans and talented newcomers will look to fill the void. Junior Caitlin Miskel, who had a goal and six assists last year, stepped up and was the team’s leading scorer during the spring season. Sophomore Meghan Lenczyk earned a starting spot late last season and finished her rookie campaign with six goals and three assists. Sophomore Kika Toulouse will also look to play an increased role this season.

“We will obviously miss Shannon, but I feel like we have the makings of an excellent front line,” said Swanson. “We could be even deeper in this position than last year. Caitlin really came out and did some great things for us last season in terms of creating chances for herself and others. We will need her to be more of a consistent scorer for us this year, but she did that for us this spring, which was a great sign. Meghan is one of our most improved players over the past year. She has the size and skills to be a great center forward for us. There are things that all first-years need to learn in terms of positions, and runs, and the speed of the game at this level. She picked it up as the season went along and she scored some really big goals for us. Kika has really developed and has a lot to offer in terms of athleticism and skill. She has improved her game and showed us some great things in the spring. We just need to get her more experience making decisions at this level.”

Joining the attack are three first-years, Lauren Alwine, Maggie Kistner and Molly McKeon. Alwine and Kistner are both high school All-Americans and have experience with the US Youth National Teams.

“We have some first-years who could really impact the team this season which is always exciting,” said Swanson. “Lauren, Maggie and Molly have all the tools to excel at the college level including great athleticism, excellent skills and a strong mentality. All they need is some experience. We will use the pre-season to sort out the best role for each of them and see where they can help us the most.”

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