POTSDAM -- SUNY Potsdam head women’s soccer coach Tim Moody is excited to be back for his fifth season with the Bears.
The Bears open the season on the road Saturday, Sept.4, when they take on Hilbert College at 4 p.m., in the first round of the Alfred University Tournament. The team opens its home schedule against Wells College at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at Maxcy Hall Turf Field.
Last season Moody’s squad, which finished with an 8-9-1 record in 2009, played the best soccer he’s seen in his tenure at Potsdam and is looking to build on that success.
Moody credits the experience of a core group of juniors for Potsdam’s competitiveness last year and they will be relied on heavily again this fall. The Bears lost four seniors who made significant contributions in 2009 to graduation in the spring, but are fortunate to return most of their offensive leaders.
Potsdam will have eight new faces, a mixture of transfers and freshmen, joining the 11 returning letter-winners. The newcomers will get an opportunity to develop their skills, learn the Bears’ system and contribute this year, but with the expectation that they do so quickly and progress with their teammates.
Though the Bears are still perceived to be the underdogs by most opponents, they hope to use that to their advantage to continue one of the most successful periods in the program’s history and return to the postseason.
Three captains will lead Potsdam on the field this fall. Senior Kelsey Butz (Schenectady) returns as a captain for the second straight year and has been a constant on the field for the Bears since she arrived. She has played in 55 of Potsdam’s 58 games since her freshman season, starting 45 of those contests. Butz earned a spot on the roster as a freshman because of her competitive fire and physical play. Moody says that though she is one of the smallest players on the team, Butz plays like a giant. She is expected to be a defensive stalwart again this year.
Junior midfielder Kathleen Frear (Scotia) has earned a captaincy for the first time. Frear is a very positive player with tremendous work ethic and energy. She is in constant motion and is an excellent communicator who makes her teammates better. She was also an offensive force last season, scoring two goals and assisting on eight others for 12 points.
Alissa Tischler (Potsdam), another junior midfielder, has also been selected to serve as a captain for the first time. Tischler is the ultimate utility player and can play every position on the field. She plays any role she’s asked without complaint and has a contagious positive attitude. Last season Tischler started 15 games for the Bears and contributed five points (2-1-5). Entering this season she has worked hard to recover from offseason surgery and get back to form.
Up front, the Bears return their two leading scorers, who will be joined by a transfer and a freshman. Senior Cortney Poirier (Moira) returns for her second season after leading Potsdam in scoring in 2009 with 10 goals and seven assists for 27 points.
Poirier’s speed and athleticism cause problems for opposing defenders and put her in position to score goals. She will be counted on to be a goals-scorer again this year. Sophomore Heather Johnson (Ogdensburg) wasn’t far behind Poirier last season, contributing seven goals and three assists for 17 points as a rookie. She played in all 18 of Potsdam’s contests last season, starting in 17 and is expected to pick up where she left off.
One of the two new faces at forward, sophomore transfer Jasmine Frasher (Gouverneur) worked hard in the offseason to earn a place on the team and may see time at midfield as well as forward. Freshman Ashley Thayer (Winthrop) joins the Bears with lots of potential. She is expected to be one of Potsdam’s attacking options as she develops her skills and makes the transition to college soccer.
Frear and Tischler will lead the Bears at midfield again this season.
Juniors Dedra Palmer (Whitesboro), Jess Mehm (Schroon Lake), and Taylor Jordan (Canton) also return. Palmer is another Bear looking to return to form after an injury.
Palmer started all 18 games for Potsdam last season, scoring five goals and recording two assists for 12 points. She will be relied on as another solid playmaker at midfield this year. Mehm started 12 of the 16 games she played in last fall, setting up three goals. She has the speed to beat most defenders, putting herself in position to set up shots or take them herself. Jordan played in all 18 games for Potsdam last season and started five. She will continue to be the defensive anchor at midfield, allowing her teammates to press forward on offense.
There are two new juniors in the Bears midfield in 2010. Canadian Stephanie Simons (Stratford, Ont.) is the lone international player on the squad. She played at the premier club level in Canada and is expected to be another offensive threat for Potsdam at midfield. Anna Butler (Naples) is a transfer from Finger Lakes Community College. While with the Lakers, Butler established herself as a defensive midfielder, the same role she will play as a Bear.
Besides Butz, Potsdam has two other veteran presences in the defense half.
Juniors Maribeth Simmons (Clinton) and Maggie Malinowski (Livonia) are both back to solidify an already strong defense. Simmons started all 17 games she played in last year. She will remain in the role of sweeper in the defensive backline this season.
Simmons will play a crucial role in communicating with her teammates and organizing the defense. Malinowski started five games early last season before she was lost to a broken leg. Looking to bounce back in 2010, she hopes to tally a lot of minutes while strengthening the backline.
Junior Emily Doyle (Saranac Lake) worked hard this summer to compete for a starting job on defense or at midfield in her first season with the Bears. Doyle is very technically talented and brings a her positive attitude to the team. Sophomore Brittany Martin (Canton) transferred to Potsdam for the spring semester, bringing with her club experience and a strong work ethic. She is very strong in the air and strikes the ball very well with the left foot. One of just two freshmen on the team, Emilie Sullivan (Tullyy) is also making the transition to college soccer. Sullivan has the potential to earn some quality minutes as she learns the game from her teammates.
The Bears goalkeepers are both new this fall. Sophomore Kim Callahan (Centereach) and junior Caitlin Titus (Jamesville) will battle it out for the lion’s share of the time in net. Both keepers communicate very well with their defense and are very hard workers and great shot stoppers. Callahan played in a very strong high school program and for an elite premier club on Long Island.
She is not afraid to put herself in harm’s way between the pipes. Titus performed extremely well in preseason and came to camp in very good shape.
She is always striving to improve and has the mental toughness to be successful in the SUNYAC.
As the Bears look to climb in the standings this season, there are other highlights to look for. Under the tutelage of one of the most experienced coaches in the conference, SUNY Potsdam has averaged more wins per season than in any other period in the program’s history. With eight more victories, Moody will become the Bears all-time winningest women’s soccer coach.
Also this fall, the team gets a chance to experience New York City when it heads downstate to take on Maritime College on Sept. 17. There they will reunite with Privateers Head Coach and former Bear Captain Laura Mooney-Steel ’06. In 2010 the Bears will continue rewrite their record book and add to their tradition.