Optimism is plentiful for the Husson College women’s and men’s soccer teams.
The women’s soccer team earned its second NCAA Division III Tournament berth last season and, although they will be without North Atlantic Conference Player of the Year Shelby (Pickering) Bradford for at least six to eight weeks, 10th-year head coach Keith Bosley said he feels “very positive.
“We’ve reached a stage now where our expectations are to make it to NAC final, win it and make it to the [NCAA Tournament],” said Bosley.
Bosley is confident they can compensate for the loss of Bradford, who scored 27 goals and added 11 assists in 21 games for the 17-4-1 Eagles.
Pacing the attack will be juniors veterans Katie Nickerson of Belfast and Sam Homer. Nickerson had 11 goals and 7 assists and Homer had 10 & 5 a year ago.
And Bosley likes what he has seen from freshmen strikers Megan Clement of Brunswick and Megan LaJoie of Van Buren.
“They look like they’ll be able to contribute offensively,” said Bosley. “Megan Clement has a real knack for finishing and Megan LaJoie has a real knack for creating havoc and scoring opportunities. And she can finish the opportunities she creates.”
Hampden freshman Michelle Manning of Hampden is also promising up front, according to Bosley.
University of Maine transfer Kylan Smith from Presque Isle, who can play fullback or as a defensive midfielder, has given the Eagles a big lift.
“She’s a complete workhorse. She’s willing to do everything and she can do everything,” said Bosley, who added UMass transfer Amy Sanz, a central midfielder, has also given the team a boost.
“Kylan and Amy have really strengthened our midfield,” said senior co-captain Meredith Homer.
The midfield also features quality veterans Laurie Melen (2 & 5), Martine Daigle of Madawaska and speedster Danielle Lorusso (4 & 3) along with freshman Caitlyn LaBorne of Scarborough.
Meredith Homer heads up the fullback corps in the 3-4-3 formation. Freshmen Caitlyn Butterfield of Gorham and Janna Clukey of Presque Isle will man the back line and Bosley has the option of moving Samantha Homer, Meredith’s sister, and LaJoie to fullback.
Record-setting goalie Leah Drew has graduated so junior Tatyana Wolterbeek of Moody, who scored six goals last fall, will move back from her midfield spot to man the net. She had some productive minutes in goal two years ago when Drew was injured. Sophomore newcomer Jen Plourde will back her up.
“I really think we’re going to have a strong season. I’m really excited about it,” said Meredith Homer.
“We have a lot of good incoming freshmen who are really skilled,” added co-captain Nickerson.
Husson men’s coach Seth Brown feels he has a better team than last season when he guided his Eagles to a 12-4-3 season in his first year.
“But we play a much more difficult schedule,” said Brown, who has added Bowdoin, Eastern Connecticut State and Wheaton College (Mass.) to his nonconference schedule as well as Atlanta-based Oglethorpe and Emory universities.
They will open at Oglethorpe and Emory this weekend.
“Last year, I felt confident up to three or four deep off the bench. This year, we can go as far as eight deep,” said Brown.
“We’re a lot stronger than last year,” said assistant coach Mike Noblet.
Freshman Miguel Dominguez of Rome, Ga., has earned the starting spot in goal.
“He’s from a very strong pedigree and he had great people training him,” said Brown, who used to coach in Georgia.
Dominguez will be aided by an experienced fullback corps featuring Leavitt’s Jeff Truchon, who had five assists last year, Woolwich’s Justin Gauvin, Skowhegan’s Tony Thompson (1 goal, 3 assists) and co-captain Tim Mousette. All are juniors.
“Those four played 95 percent of our minutes last year. I feel confident in them,” said Brown.
Bowdoinham’s Josh Bartlett (3 & 0), Auburn’s Pat St. Hilaire and former Hampden Academy star Nattapong Kongsuriya (6 & 6) will provide Brown with a strong two-way midfield.
Presque Isle’s Nate Carter (9 & 2), the top returning scorer, will move from center forward to left wing.
Brown will also look for goal production from Hiroki Ueda (7 & 4), Hiroshi Iwabuchi (4 & 4) and Yataka Matsui along with newcomers Peter Alexander of Hampden and Mark Trombley of Burnham.
Ross Salotto saw a lot of midfield minutes last year and will again this year and newcomers Billy Shannon, Rob Cowart will help provide depth and quality.
“Our bench is going to be a lot better,” said co-captain Bartlett.
“The new talent is really going to help us,” said Mousette.