Salisbury is the defending CAC women’s soccer regular season and playoff champion, but balance has been the name of the game for the past five years. The CAC has crowned five straight different playoff champions, and no team has been in the title contest more than twice over the past five seasons.
Frostburg enters 2012 as the defending ECAC South playoff champ and boasts the services of 2011 CAC Player of the Year Adria Graham. Mary Washington, the 2010 trophy-winner, and Marymount hope to be strong this year on the strength of more than a dozen returning players.
St. Mary’s, which advanced to the 2011 title game as the No. 6 seed in the tournament, and York have both won championships in the past five years. Wesley was tied with York for the fourth-highest win total in the CAC last year.
The 2012 season opens Labor Day Weekend with a variety of tournaments and non-conference games. CAC action kicks off Sept. 15 when Frostburg State travels to Mary Washington and York visits SMC.
The seven teams will battle for six playoff nods. The CAC post-season features first-round games on Oct. 27 and leads to the championship game on Nov. 3. The CAC Champion earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Here’s a look at each CAC team heading into the 2012 season.
Frostburg hasn’t skipped a beat since joining the CAC two years ago with back-to-back 17-win seasons and two trips to the ECAC South Region Tournament. A year ago, FSU captured the ECAC Championship trophy and will look to carry that momentum into the 2012 campaign. The Bobcats’ chances of a CAC Title are bolstered by the return of seven starters and three All-CAC selections, including Adria Graham, the CAC Player of the Year.
With 18 returners, including nine upperclassmen, depth and experience are key strengths for Marymount as the Saints look to return to the CAC Tournament for the first time since 2007. The Saints return their entire starting defensive backline, including senior Krysti Patient, juniors Jillian Goldstein and Eva DeLeon, sophomore Danni Bankins, with senior Kenn Thompson adding depth off the bench. In goal, senior Gaby Prellezo will battle sophomores Victoria Wyand and Holly Wenger for time between the pipes. In the midfield, seniors Stephanie Flood and Brianna Notarangelo lead a strong core that includes sophomores Hannah Boswell, Nicole Mercado, Catherine Powell and Julie Fioramonti. Up top, leading scorer Katie Hamelin is back for her senior campaign along with junior Shannon Bisselink, one of the Saints top assists leaders the past two seasons.
The University of Mary Washington women’s soccer team will look to build upon the momentum of several late conference wins in the 2011 season toward a return trip to the top of the CAC standings and a return to the NCAA Division III Tournament in 2012. With 15 returning players from last year’s 9-7-2 squad that advanced to the conference semifinals, hopes are high for a return to excellence this fall. Leading the way for the Eagles will be returning all-state and all-conference midfielder Tina Rader, who scored 10 goals and one assist last year. Also back is the team’s leading scorer from a year ago in junior Erin Reynolds, whose 22 points (eight goals and six assists) included three game winners.
Expectations are high for Salisbury, the defending Capital Athletic Conference champion, which features more depth across the field than Head Coach Jim Nestor has seen in years past. The squad has a solid core of senior leadership, with Sarah Phundstein, Erin Mooney, Casey Hafford and Bonnie Sandone, along with goalie Melissa Orgera. This year’s team features 14 freshmen, and is a group that has potential for not only this season but for years to come.
The Seahawks are under new direction this season as veteran coach Richard Moller begins his first season at St. Mary's head coach. Coach Moller inherited a solid and talented group that features five All-CAC selections. All but seven are back from last year's conference tournament finalist team, including the team's top 5 scorers and starting goalkeeper and 2010 CAC Rookie of the Year, Kelsey Wirtz.
Wesley will have a busy start to its 2012 season as it hosts Cedar Crest, DeSales and St. Elizabeth in three-straight days from August 31-September 2. Luckily for head coach Ed Muntz, more than half of last year’s squad returns, including sophomore Kelly Edmunds who was one of the top rookies in the CAC last year with six goals and seven assists. Also coming back this season is senior goalkeeper Sydney Kahan, who has started all but two games since stepping on campus in 2009.
York College is looking to rise back to the upper echelon of the Capital Athletic Conference after the 2011 season ended in a heart-breaking overtime loss in the tournament's first round. The Spartans, who went 7-11 overall last season, finished 6-2 in the league as their competitive non-league slate prepared them for conference play. The Spartans' 2012 slate will do much the same as the Green and White open with four straight on the road while five of their first six contests come away from home.