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PREVIEW: Defense remains backbone for women's soccer

August 23, 2013

Finding the back of the net against Wilmington in 2012 was a feat in itself as the Quakers recorded 10 shutouts and allowed 20 goals in the team’s 20 games. Things in 2013 should be no different.

“Defense has always been a staple of our program, and will continue to be,” said Wilmington head coach Steve Spirk. “Our challenge this season is finding enough offense as we are replacing two of our top three scorers. We have the players that are fully capable, they just have to prove it in games.”

Three-time All-OAC honoree Rachel Gutowski (Petoskey, MI/Petoskey) leads the talented corps of defenders. She will be joined by a trio of seniors in Bonnie Grace (Wyoming, OH/Wyoming), Jenni Marck (Cincinnati, OH/Wyoming) and Sammi Miller (West Chester, OH/Lakota East). Marck and Grace started 20 and 19 games, respectively, while Miller started the first eight before being lost for the rest of the season with an injury.

Juniors Caroline Guindon (Barnesville, OH/St. Clairsville) and Stephanie Robinson (Middletown, OH/Madison), along with sophomores Erika Good (Miamisburg, OH/Miamisburg) and Ashley Stockton (Waynesville, OH/Waynesville) will bolster the defense.

The experience lent by possibly have four seniors in the back is not lost on Spirk.

“Having a strong and experienced defense, which I feel we will, will be a key to our season,” he said.

Wilmington, however, will have to find a replacement in goal with junior Taylor Franklin (Delaware, OH/Rutherford B. Hayes) as the lone returner between the pipes. Franklin played in seven games with five starts, allowing four goals in a little more than 515 minutes. She was 5-1 on the season with a save percentage of .810. Freshmen Leah Bench (Elmore, OH/Woodmore) and Grace Hignite (Englewood, OH/Northmont), along with sophomore Ashley Gorman (Creston, OH/Norwayne) are expected to compete for the starting position.

“I feel very confident that we have a lot of competition, whether it’s a returning goalkeeper or a new goalkeeper, to give us the balance and the strength we need at that position,” said Spirk.

After scoring five goals, three of which were game winners, sophomore Rachelle Bowen (Xenia, OH/Xenia) will be the top returning goal scorer. She is slated to make the move to full-time starter after starting in just six games last season. Another sophomore, Lauren Lewis (Wilmington, OH/Wilmington), returns after scoring four goals with three assists, while junior Camille Gentile (Brownsburg, IN/Brownsburg) (four goals, two assists) also comes back.

“I think every year you look for players to step up and score goals,” said Spirk. “I feel confident someone will step up into that role. I think we will be able to score goals from a lot of different areas, whether its midfield, strikers, and with a number of different personnel. I feel very confident about the group we have coming in.”

Juniors Brooke Lamb (Waynesville, OH/Clinton-Massie), Lauren Hamrock (Beavercreek, OH/Beavercreek), and Angela Phillips (Union, OH/Northmont), along with senior Paij Shelton (Hillsboro, OH/Hillsboro), freshman Sarah Titterington (Sidney, OH/Lehman Catholic) and freshman Taylor Scott (Lynchburg, OH/Lynchburg) are some players that could add to the offensive attack.

An honorable mention All-OAC selection, Gentile, will be a key lynchpin in holding the midfield together. She will be joined by senior Sammy Koerner (Fairfield, OH/Hamilton Badin), junior Emily Noskowiak (Westerville, OH/Westerville), and sophomore Kala Fox (Ashland, OH/Ashland).

Freshmen Morgan Combs (Tipp City, OH/Tippecanoe), Ashlynne Huon (Cincinnati, OH) and Savanna Compton (Springfield, OH/Greenon) will all press for minutes.

“We have a lot of experience in the midfield,” said Spirk. “We have some good young players that will be able to compete for playing time. The key for us is depth. I think we are going to have very good depth.”