PRESQUE ISLE, ME – The University of Maine at Presque Isle Owls Women's Soccer team faces the tall task of replacing four of their top five scorers from a year ago. With a veteran presence and new talent, early indications are that they are up to the challenge.
Four seniors return from a team that went 6-8-2 a year ago. Janae Libby (Fort Fairfield, ME), Jessy Dickison (Houlton, ME), Abby Deveau (Littleton, ME), and Allie Lopez (Kingfield, ME) will be tasked as the veteran leaders, and all four made their presence felt in a season opening win against Maine-Machias, a 2-0 win that was a total team effort.
Head Coach Trevor Parent, in his sixth season at the helm, talked about the makeup of his team at this point. "We've had a couple of weeks to prepare for the 2017 season, now. We have seen lots of good things from this group. Our returning crew, to the player has returned this year and have been performing at a better level, and they all are showing tremendous leadership qualities. We feel as though we've brought in a solid bunch of women to compliment the players we already have in our side. This balance of new comers with the veterans has made for a very pleasant few weeks of soccer."
Libby is joined by Jordi Legassie (JR, Presque Isle, ME) at the forward position. Legassie is responsible for the first goal of the season for the Owls, scoring early in the first half on a play that was set up nicely by Libby. Both athletes did a great job of putting pressure on the goal in the first game, as each of them were credited with three shots, two of which were on goal.
Dickison and Devau will lead the midfielder group. Dickison was responsible for the second goal against Machias, a play in which she was in great position to clean up a corner kick that was placed just outside the grasp of the keeper. Deveau also did her part in the win, and was credited with two shots, one of which was on goal. Returning midfielder Kendra Gregarczyk (SO, Middletown, RI) played in 11 of the 16 games last year as a defensive player, but got the start this past Sunday, putting a shot on goal as well. Gregarczyk was honored last year with as the team's Most Inspirational Player. That group will add Emily Ward (FR, Peterborough, NH) to the mix, another starter in the opener that has shown promise going forward.
The defensive unit will be led by junior Mikayla Churchill (Washburn, ME) and last year's Rookie of the Year, Laura Sturgeon (SO, Ashland, ME). Churchill started and played in 15 games last season, while Sturgeon played in 13 games, earning a start in five of them. They will be joined by newcomers Briana Fenton (FR. Saranac Lake, NY), Taylor Brown (SO, Easton, ME), Leinani Farnsworth (FR, Portland, ME), and Megan Seward (JR, Chapman, ME), who will help shore up the defensive unit.
Lopez returns off of two All AD3I Independent selections the past two seasons. She got the start in the season opener, saving the only shot on goal from the Clippers. Adding depth to the position will be Taylor Howe (SO, Easton, ME) and Casey Lovely (FR, Easton, ME). Besides their duties as keepers, both Howe and Lovely will spend time working with the defensive backs.
Coach Parent saw some good things in the opener, and is looking forward to his team's progress this season. "The really great piece about this team is we can expect everyone is capable of doing something special this season. Everyone is capable of contributing, a coach's dream really. We did lose some talent from last year, both in attack and in defense. We have a choice though, focus on what we lost or focus on the women in the program - right now. I think we did a decent job this past weekend of illustrating we have lots of opportunities moving forward. Offensively, we had 75-80% possession, 15 shots, eight on goal, two goals, and we allowed one total shot on our net. I'm excited to watch this team continue to improve through the season."
The Owls start the season with a stretch of home games. Their next game will be against Fisher at home on Sunday, September 17th at noon. They will also host Farmington on the 23rd, Bryant and Stratton on October 1st, Unity College on October 7th (Homecoming), and SUNY Canton on October 8th. They will wrap up their home schedule on Wednesday, October 25th when they host Husson at 7 pm. They travel to Maine-Fort Kent on October 24th, and finish the season on the road at Fisher on the 29th. The Owls will compete in the ACAA this year, in its inaugural year of existence.
For more information and to follow the Owls, visit www.owls.umpi.edu for more details.