Aug. 17, 2011
Boca Raton, Fla. - Florida Atlantic University's 2011-12 athletic calendar starts this weekend with the women's soccer team hosting a pair of home matches. Crosstown-foe Lynn University will be the opposition on Friday, August 19, beginning at 7 p.m., while a match against Stetson University is planned on Sunday, August 21, at 2 p.m. Both matches will take place at the FAU Soccer Stadium, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus.
FAU returns 80 percent of its scoring from last year's team that featured a winning home record (5-4), a two-win improvement in Sun Belt Conference play and posted four shutouts.
"Preseason is a time of optimism when everybody is excited for the opportunity to get on the field and show what you've got," says Brian Dooley, FAU's head women's soccer coach for the 13th season. "Everybody is ready to play games that matter."
Top returning players include sophomore forward Jesse Shugg, who led last year's team with seven goals and 15 points. She scored a goal in five consecutive matches last season and was a key catalyst in the squad increasing its scoring by nearly 50 percent from the previous season.
Fellow sophomore forward Brittney Nash showcased the ability to score goals in crunch time, netting two game-winning goals in 2010. She scored the game winner for the Owls' first victory last season against Fordham University - one of four goals for the season.
Sophomore Marisa Russo led FAU with five assists and scored her inaugural collegiate goal on her first career shot last season against Stetson.
The Owls also are blessed to have three returning goalkeepers: Courtney Zwetsch, Ashley Lantes and Manon Transleau. Zwetsch recorded all six of the team's victories last year, with four shutouts - all in league action. Lantes had a strong freshman campaign in 2009, while Transleau provides depth at the position.
Friday will be the first FAU-Lynn meeting in women's soccer since 1994. The Fighting Knights compete at the NCAA Division II level and are members of the Sunshine State Conference. The team is coming off a 5-6-2 record from last season.
"The season opener offers the Boca Raton community a great opportunity to see two good teams play for local bragging rights," says Dooley. "Lynn has a rich tradition, winning national championships at the Division II level. This should be a good first test for our team."
FAU will be looking to win its season opener for the first time since defeating Monmouth 3-0 to begin the 2005 campaign.
The Owls is seeking to defeat Stetson for the first time in four matches, including last year's 4-3 loss to open the season. However, FAU has won 14 of the 24 previous meetings between the two Florida teams. Stetson is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference, which FAU was a member of from 1994-2005.
"Stetson has had our number lately and has deserved to win those games," says Dooley. "Hopefully, we get off to a good start and won't be chasing the ball around the field, looking for opportunities like we have been in the past against them."