08/29/12 — MOC women's soccer: Offense leaves, plenty of good players remain

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MOC women's soccer: Offense leaves, plenty of good players remain

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 29, 2012 1:50 PM

There's an unmistakable sound that can be heard at Mount Olive College this fall.

It's opportunity knocking.

Especially for the women's soccer team.

Graduation depleted an offense that ranked 19th nationally in scoring a year ago. Goalie Lyndsey McIntyre also departed after recording five shutouts and posting a 0.75 goals-against-average between the pipes.

Sixth-year MOC head coach Matt Hisler spent the offseason searching for three quality forwards, a keeper and midfielders who can consistently -- and creatively -- generate offensive attacks.

"I am really excited about this class," Hisler said. "We are much taller and faster than we have been. The technical quality is very high throughout the entire class. The personality and work ethic is fantastic with this group."

Hisler expects six freshmen to see quality playing time this fall -- forward Madison Robak, forward Jaclyn Thomas, forward Ellie Barnes, center midfielder Christine Rocchio, outside back Sydney Nelson and keeper Carolin Edenhofner. The group joins 10 returning letter-winners who participated on a 10-win team that finished runner-up in the Conference Carolinas East Division.

The Trojans' backline is projected to be a strength along with team speed, tactical speed and quality in depth.

The glaring weakness is youth.

"With our team being so young, it will take some time to get everyone on the same page," Hisler said. "Establishing our chemistry and understanding will be critical for our success."

Hisler will leave that responsibility to captain Tia Rose, a two-time all-Conference Carolinas performer and four fellow seniors -- three-time all-CC pick Patrice Clarke, all-conference selection Mary Knepp, Jen Floyd and forward Janaya Finney. Rose tallied three goals, while Finney handed two assists last season.

MOC outscored the opposition 40-15 a year ago and collected three or more goals in six outings, which were all wins. The Trojans ended up 4-5 in games decided by one goal and settled for two draws.

Conference Carolinas coaches predicted the Trojans will finish fourth, according to last week's preseason poll. Hisler appreciated the recognition and said his team is capable of catching some people by surprise.

"I think this is a great group of players," Hisler said. "They love to play and they are willing to work hard together to overcome obstacles."

The Trojans launch their 2012 campaign at home Thursday at 4 p.m. against in-state rival UNC Pembroke. Mount Olive has dropped five consecutive season openers, including back-to-back defeats against UNCP in 2009 and 2010.