William Penn University
Fresh leadership will bring heightened expectations as a new era of William Penn women’s soccer opens this fall.
A 2-13-1 campaign last fall forced a change of guard with Willie McGowan receiving the reins last December. In seven years at Iowa Central Community College, he led the Tritons to an 87-42-9 record and an appearance at the national tournament in 2005.
“I am sure last season was disappointing to all involved in the program,” McGowan said. “Sadly, a number of injuries affected the squad’s performance and they were not able to produce the desired results during tight games. Seven games were lost by only one goal so the hope is we can win those close games this coming year. 2011 will provide a great deal of motivation to the returning players to make the 2012 season one to remember for all the right reasons.”
McGowan’s first priority was to change the culture of the program and improve the team dynamic. While doing that, he looked to also add quality newcomers to the roster.
“The program made great strides during the offseason,” McGowan said. “The players began to develop a belief that they can come together and accomplish something for the 2012 season. We have also seen some great improvements in the team dynamics with TEAM being a major focus to what we do.”
“Getting on the recruiting trail so late might have hurt us a little in being able to keep contact with players who had previously been recruited, but I feel we have brought in some solid players who can help us build this program once again,” McGowan said. “We have a few transfers coming in who will add to the experience of the squad. Our incoming freshmen are go-getters and will definitely help us as well.”
Scoring has been a weakness for the Lady Statesmen in recent history and to make matters even worse, none of the scoring from last year returns. Therefore, the 2012 group that McGowan puts up top will have their hands full in making William Penn an offensive threat.
Rebecca Brenner (Sr., Cheyenne, Wyo., Cheyenne Central HS), Megan Kling (Jr., Mesa, Ariz., Gateway CC), and Ashur-Eden Amai (Sr., Queensland, Australia, South Carolina Salkehatchie) will have the first crack at it as they have spent the most time on the pitch in the past.
“Rebecca is a competitive, aggressive player who can score if given the chance,” McGowan said. “Megan has a great deal of speed and a good shot when given space. Ashur has the potential to be a game-changer when she plays simply and quickly. She could also see time in the midfield.”
Brittany Grier (Jr., Ft. Leonard Wood, Mo., Waynesville HS) and Silvia Munoz (Fr., Paramount, Calif., St. Matthias HS) also return, while Kelly Button (Jr., Tucson, Ariz., Pima CC) joins the Lady Statesmen this fall.
“Brittany controls the ball well and looks to involve her teammates,” McGowan said. “Silvia is quick and athletic, while Kelly is a tall player who plays well from the left side.”
Four returners have the inside track on the starting midfielder spots, led by sophomore Marci Smith (Runnells, Southeast Polk HS).
“Marci has the potential to take over games,” McGowan said. “She plays simply and likes to get the ball forward.”
Desiree Rosario (Sr., Brunswick, Ga., South Carolina Salkehatchie) also started a season ago, while Breanna Hochhalter (Sr., Gilbert, Ariz., Higley HS) and Leslie Hernandez (So., Bolingbrook, Ill., Bolingbrook HS) saw minutes.
“Desiree is very quick, and with some work on her technique, could have a solid 2012,” McGowan said. “Breanna attacks the ball in the midfield, while if Leslie can come out of her shell a bit, she could do very well. She is very good with the ball at her feet and makes intelligent passes and runs.”
After running cross country for two years at William Penn, Kyra Peery (Jr., Draper, Utah, Alta HS) transferred her skills to the soccer field in the spring, so she has also had time under McGowan.
“Kyra is fit and mobile, and once she gets fully back into soccer mode, she will be an asset,” McGowan said.
A half-dozen newcomers will also vie for time in the middle. The list includes Emmanuella Meneide (Jr., Turks and Caicos, University of the Southwest), Kristine Wagner (Fr., Clarksville, Tenn., West Creek HS), Kate Thayer (Fr., East Fremantle, Australia, John Curtin HS), Hanna Rosenkranz (Fr., Knoxville, Knoxville HS), Chloe Kleinschmidt (Fr., Washington, Washington HS), and Tiffany Just (Knoxville, Iowa Central CC).
“Emmanuella has great speed and we will look to get her behind opponents for shots on goal or crossing passes,” McGowan said. “Kristine distributes the ball well and closes down opponents. Kate has good footwork and movement. Her versatility will be utilized.”
“Watching Hanna this past spring, I felt that she was surprising under-used,” McGowan added. “She looks to feed the ball into the corner and does a good job of possessing the ball. Chloe will add some quality depth and Tiffany has a good understanding of the game. She is coming off an injury, so if she is healthy, she will only get better as the year goes.”
Ashlynn Betts (Jr., Jenks, Okla., Jenks HS) brings the most experience to the final line of defense. The junior will pair up with a gang of returners to present the deepest part of the Lady Statesmen squad. That depth is somewhat misleading, though, with several individuals returning from redshirt or injury-plagued campaigns.
“Ashlynn has a good understanding of the game and her strong engine will help her to get back into position,” McGowan said.
Jordan Davis (Sr., Centerville, Indian Hills CC) and Mollie Plocher (So., West Plains, Mo., West Plains HS) join Betts as starters from last season, while Linden Schulz (So., Pleasant Hill, Southeast Polk HS) and Rachel Carnes (Jr., Washington, Washington HS) also saw the field in 2011.
“Jordan, who may also see time up top, has good speed and closes down attackers well,” McGowan said. “Mollie is a solid defender and moves the ball around well, while Linden has a never-say-die attitude that you cannot teach. Rachel tackles well and is a presence in the box.”
Jaymie Padilla (So., Mesa, Ariz., Gateway CC) and Courtney Valentine (So., Kirksville, Mo., Kirksville HS) will also be able to add leadership as members of last year’s squad.
“Jaymie has a number of great qualities that will serve her well,” McGowan said. “She is tough and makes good decisions. Courtney steps to the ball well and has an invaluable left foot.”
Kirsty Fraser (Jr., Perth, Australia, Iowa Central CC) and Jerie Carson (Fr., Idaho Falls, Idaho, Bonneville HS) look to fight for starting positions in their first seasons at William Penn.
“Kirsty worked with me at Iowa Central so she has an excellent understanding of how I want my defense to look and how I want the ball moved around,” McGowan said. “Jerie has great speed and closes down quickly. Hopefully, she will be able to join in attacks from the back.”
The entire 2011 goalkeeping crew is back on the pitch with co-starters Laura Gentry (Jr., Fruitland, Idaho, Fruitland HS) and Ali Parks (Jr., Omaha, Neb., Central HS) once again joining redshirt Brenay Fonseca (Jr., San Bernardino, Calif., Chaffey CC).
Gentry, who posted 79 saves and a 2.74 Goals Against Average, and Parks, with 57 saves and a 3.04 GAA, both won one game last year.
“Laura started several games for us and I look for her to continue on from that experience,” McGowan said. “Ali also started a number of games, and with a little development on movement and decision-making, she could push to start again. Brenay redshirted, but she has the ability to make a name for herself as a starter.”
The number of competitors nearly doubles with newcomers Amber Klootwyk (Fr., Knoxville, Knoxville HS) and Lincoln Stutting (Fr., Sturgeon Bay, Wis., Sturgeon Bay HS) debuting in the navy and gold.
“With good movement and shot-stopping ability, Amber has a chance to play right away as a freshman,” McGowan said. “Entering the preseason, Lincoln has good hands and is brave. Her versatility may also earn her time on the field.”
The Lady Statesmen take to the field for the first time on Aug. 24 against Doane (Neb.). Ten of William Penn’s 18 games will be played in Oskaloosa, a major asset for a program looking to find its identity.
“This schedule was built before I took over the position and it has a number of quality opponents, especially at the beginning,” McGowan said. “Hopefully, those results can show us what we need to work on and what works for this team before we get into the league slate.”
Grand View and St. Ambrose will find themselves in a familiar spot as they will be chased this fall, while McGowan looks for his squad to improve on past campaigns.
“The MCC is very tough and a number of teams could compete for the berth to nationals,” McGowan said. “Grand View and St. Ambrose will probably start the year as favorites, but with the losses of a few programs and the addition of AIB, I expect it to be a fun year with some new rivalries. Obviously we hope to move up the ladder, but I think our coaching staff would be happy to be more competitive in conference games and vie for the top half of the league standings.”
“I think the future looks bright for this program,” McGowan said. “During the preseason we will set the blueprint for how we would like the squad to play going forward and how to defend as a team. My philosophy is about teamwork, good work ethic, and keeping the game simple.”
“By developing our understanding of the game in practice and focusing on development of skills, I believe we will be a tough test for many teams we face,” McGowan concluded. “The key to our success will be in finding a few players who can score goals on a regular basis and finding out our team’s strengths and weaknesses.”