SEASON PREVIEW: Panthers Women's Soccer To Host Dickinson Friday For 2018 Season Opener

Photo by Erika Helo
Photo by Erika Helo

BRADFORD, Pa. – The University of Pittsburgh at Bradford women's soccer team will kick off its 2018 season at home against Dickinson Friday. 

Head Coach Melissa Lincoln is entering her second season leading the Panthers women's soccer program. Last season, she guided the team to an 8-8-2 overall record, highlighted by a strong start in which the squad captured seven wins in eight games down the stretch in September.

Making up the Panthers' 2018 roster are 10 returners and eight newcomers. Leading the way as captains are seniors Courtney Shade, Julie Barton and Kahlee Bowen.

"These girls lead by example," Lincoln said. "Their hard work in practice and in the classroom is really something the younger players can look up to."

An experienced group returns to lead the Panther offense, including a pair of seniors in Grace Dadzaa and Jade Adams, and junior Jasmine Adams. Freshmen Kaylin Kavanagh (Portville, N.Y.), Emily Royea (Rouses Point, N.Y.) and Sarah Maurer (Kupferzell, Germany) will provide added depth up front. 

"I'm really going to be looking at Grace to be a big part of our offense," Lincoln said of Dadzaa, who scored a pair of goals a season ago. "She came into the preseason in great shape and ready to go. I'm expecting her to have a great senior season."

Highlighting Pitt-Bradford's midfield is its top returning scorer and returning All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference honoree senior Meghan Stuck. The Bolivar, N.Y. native finished second on the team in 2017 with five goals on 11 shots on net.

Joining Stuck in the midfield are a pair of classmates in Barton and Meghan Thomas, both of which saw significant time on the pitch last season. Junior Katie Keller rounds out a group of upperclassmen ready to incorporate freshman Megan Rose (Belfast, N.Y.) into a talented and experienced middle line.

In the back line, Bowen will lead a young group as freshmen Hannah Hopkins (Avoca, N.Y.), Katie Anderton (Elizabethtown, Pa.) and Sarah Niegowski (Bradford, Pa.) will look to play key roles in the Panther defense. 

"Hannah and Katie are going to be big contributors from the get-go their freshman year," Lincoln said. "They're working really hard and raising the level at practice."

In goal, junior Madison Feeser returns for the Panthers while freshman Emily Bethel (Hedgesville, W.Va.) will look to hit the ground running from the start.

"Both keepers have been working really hard in practices and they've been splitting time in the scrimmages," Lincoln said. "Emily has been really stepping up as a freshman. She's a really solid, tall keeper who has been training hard and working hard, so I'm looking forward to seeing what she's going to bring this season."

After opening up at home Friday, the Panthers will play host to Thiel on Labor Day as part of a doubleheader with the men's team.

Pitt-Bradford will be home twice more during non-conference action as Alfred (Sept. 15) and Westminster (Sept. 20) come to the Kessel Athletic Complex before opening up AMCC action at Mount Aloysius on Sept. 22.

D'Youville will later come to the KAC Sept. 25 for the first home conference action. 

A season ago, all four of Pitt-Bradford's AMCC losses were decided by just one goal.

"Last season, we had a lot of things not go our way during the conference games, so we're looking to eliminate that this year," Lincoln said. "Our goal is to get back to the AMCC Tournament. Looking at what we brought in, I can definitely see us playing our way into the conference championship game. I'm looking forward to it and seeing how this team is going to compete this year."