Clayton State women's soccer set to open season Fri.
MORROW, GA – Under the direction of second-year head coach Gareth O'Sullivan, the Clayton State women's soccer program will kick off its 2012 season on Friday in Charlotte, NC.
The Laker women will square off against Pfeiffer in the Queens Women's Soccer Classic at 4 p.m. before taking a day off and facing host Queens on Sunday at 11 a.m. Clayton State will open its home schedule on Tuesday against Tennessee Wesleyan in a 4 p.m. match at Laker Field.
Expectations are high for the 2012 season, as the team is coming off a much improved 2011 campaign. Clayton State finished last year with a 9-7 record, and the squad returns 12 letter-winners and welcomes 10 talented newcomers into the fold.
Clayton State returns four All-Peach Belt Conference performers from last year, including its top two scorers in senior forward Natalie Valentine and junior Josephine Holsten. Valentine finished last season as the conference's fourth leading scorer with 11 goals on the season, while Holsten's play-making skills accounted for four goals and two assists on the campaign.
All-PBC standouts in senior goalkeeper Laoise O'Driscoll and sophomore defender Silvia Espelt also return for the squad, anchoring a Clayton State defense that tied a single-season record with 10 shutouts on the year.
Along with the four All-PBC performers, Clayton State also returns senior midfielders Dior McGruder and Becky Brown. McGruder started all 18 matches last year and had a team leading five assists, while Brown started 15 matches and had one goal and two assists on the year. Defenders Emily Walling, a sophomore, and Lorna O'Connell, a senior, return after starting 18 and 16 matches, respectively last year.
Headlining the Lakers' incoming class for 2012 is two NJCAA All-Americans in juniors Alicia Robinson and Peal Slattery. Both Robinson and Slattery starred at Hutchinson Community College, leading the college to a 17-3 record last year and No. 3 ranking nationally. Robinson led the nation in assists in 2011 with 27 and finished her career at Hutchinson with 24 goals and 42 assists, while Slattery had 29 goals and 27 assists in her two-year career.
Along with Robinson and Slattery, the Lakers add a trio young forwards to the club for some additional scoring punch in sophomore Maia Kuhnen from Germany, freshman Karlie McCallum from Eastside High School and freshman Brooke Bortles from North Gwinnett High School.
The Lakers welcome junior Lea Notthoff from Germany and freshman Jency Ramirez from Berkmar High School in the midfield, along with freshman defender Danielle Fletcher from Union Grove High School and freshman defender Courtney Hodges from Heritage High School to the squad. Freshman keeper Charlotte McCormack from Ireland will join O'Driscoll and Cross in goal.