Head coach Mike Joy begins 14th season on Tusculum sidelines
GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tusculum College women’s soccer program enters the 2010 season full of promise and potential as the Pioneers kickoff the season with a pair of matches in Texas this weekend. Tusculum will be in Commerce, Texas and will open its season this Saturday afternoon against host Texas A&M Commerce. TC will close out its visit to the Lone Star State with a Monday morning match against West Texas A&M.
Tusculum returns seven of its top 10 scorers from a squad that posted a 15-5-3 record and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Tournament a year ago. With the return of 16 letter-winners and the arrival of a deep and talented recruiting class, Head Coach Mike Joy is once again in position to add to his legacy of excellence at Tusculum, having guided the Pioneers to 12 consecutive winning seasons and 13 straight 10-win campaigns.
The Pioneers returned to form among the elite programs in the Southeast Region in 2009, finishing the regular season second in the South Atlantic Conference and going on a magical postseason run that ended with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to archrival Carson-Newman College in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Several Pioneers garnered individual recognition last season, including rising senior Courtney Turner’s (Cocoa Beach, Fla.) second career selection to the NSCAA/adidas NCAA Division II All-America Team.
Coach Joy’s squad returns nine starters from last season, including NSCAA/adidas NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region First team selection Tramicka James (Wilson, N.C.), and Daktronics NCAA Division II All-Southeast Region Second Team honoree Claire Duncan (Greeneville, Tenn.). With an envious combination of youth, talent, and experience, Tusculum looks primed to challenge for its fifth SAC championship and launch a run deep into the NCAA Tournament. Tusculum is the Preseason favorite according to this year’s SAC Coaches’ Poll.
James returns for her sophomore season to headline the Pioneer attack, hoping to build on a rookie campaign in which she tallied a team-high 11 goals and totaled 30 points to rank fourth and third in the conference, respectively. The All-SAC First Team selection will be joined in the attacking third by a trio of gifted returners, as well as four promising newcomers, giving the Pioneers a deep and talented attacking corps.
Patience Leonard (Greeneville, Tenn.) returns for her junior season with the Pioneers after posting two goals, one assist, and five points in limited action a year ago. The 5-8 forward will be joined by returning sophomores Kourtney Kavic (Oakville, Ontario, Canada) and Aly Carrino (Greeneville, Tenn.). Kavic was impressive in her rookie campaign with the Pioneers, finishing the season tied for third on the team in goals (6) and fourth in points (16), while making 17 starts. Carrino looks to challenge for playing time in her sophomore season after seeing limited action in her rookie campaign with the Pioneers.
The Pioneers also welcome a quartet of newcomers into the attacking corps this season, led by sophomore transfer Kim Brown (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada). Brown joins Tusculum from Davis & Elkins College, where she posted team-highs of 12 goals and 29 points en route to All-WVIAC First Team recognition.
Jenique Thombs (Scarborough, Ontario, Canada), Katie Capel (Waverly, Tenn.), and Amy Neltner (Wilder, Ky.) round out the new attacking options for the Pioneers, each bringing a different style to the Tusculum front line. Thombs joins the Pioneers from Pope John Paul II Catholic High School, where she starred at both the high school and club level, garnering numerous awards and leading her club team to the Ontario Cup championship. Capel, a 5-4 forward from Waverly, Tenn., comes to Tusculum as a three-time All-District performer and 2009 District Offensive Player of the Year at Waverly High School. Neltner joins the Pioneers from Campbell County High School in Alexandria, Ky. where she garnered numerous honors, including an All-Northern Kentucky Second Team selection.
Turner returns to anchor the Pioneer midfielder for her senior season, leading a deep and talented group of student-athletes that brings a wealth of experience to the pitch. The two-time All-American shined for the Pioneers last season, scoring three goals and finishing the campaign tied for second on the team in assists (8) en route to a multitude of honors, including an NSCAA/adidas NCAA Division II All-America Second Team selection, becoming the second two-time All-American in program history.
Junior Michelle Meade (Greeneville, Tenn.) will likely join Turner in the starting midfield for the Pioneers this season, fresh off a sophomore campaign in which she led the SAC with 10 assists. Seniors Lisa Andriano (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and Amber Bradley (Kent, Wash.) join Turner, Meade, and fellow senior Jillian Cunha (London, Ontario, Canada) as veteran leaders among a group of talented and experienced midfielders that figures to be integral to Tusculum’s success this season.
Andriano started the first five matches of the 2009 season before injury sidelined her for the rest of the campaign, while Bradley was a fixture in the starting 11 for the Pioneers, starting each of TC’s 23 contests and tallying a pair of assists. Cunha returns to Tusculum for her senior campaign, and will compete for playing time after appearing in nine matches and recording an assist last season.
Junior Devan McIntyre (Greeneville, Tenn.) and sophomore Zaily Mejia (Sevierville, Tenn.) round out the returning midfield corps for the Pioneers, and will compete for playing time. Freshmen Katie Dargavell (Berea, Ky.), a two-time All-District selection, and Ariana Sigmon (Myrtle Beach, S.C.), a four-time All-Region honoree, will also compete for playing time this season.
Duncan is expected to anchor the Pioneer back line in her junior season, fresh off a sophomore campaign in which she tallied six goals and tied for the team-lead with three match-winners en route to a pair of All-Region selections. Joining Duncan in the veteran defensive corps are seniors Cassy Melnike (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and Amber Marceau (Grayson, Ga.), as well as junior Jessica Lee (Virginia Beach, Va.). All three are expected to compete for a spot in the starting 11 after combining for 48 starts a season ago.
Lee posted a stellar season for the Pioneers in 2009, logging a program-record 2116 minutes and starting 23 matches on the backline. Melnike became a fixture on the backline for Tusculum last season, making 18 starts and scoring a pair of goals. Marceau appeared in 22 matches in her first season with the Pioneers, making seven starts while tallying two goals and one assist.
The Pioneers welcome eight newcomers to the defensive corps this season, a group that boasts several players who should challenge for a spot in the starting 11. Freshman Colleen Moloney (Houston, Texas) joins Tusculum after a stellar prep career in which she was a three-time All-District selection and a member of two state semifinalist teams. Rookie defender Monica Perez (Austin, Texas) is expected to challenge for playing time and a spot in the starting 11 after starring as a two-time All-District First Team performer for James Bowie High School in Austin.
Freshman defender Amy Morford (Versailes, Ky.) will challenge for a spot along the starting backline this season, joining the Pioneers after garnering numerous accolades during her prep career at Campbell County High School in Alexandria, Ky. Paige Thompson (Jonesborough, Tenn.) comes to Tusculum from Davy Crockett High School, where she was a two-time All-Conference performer with the Pioneers.
Freshmen Shanice Campbell (Ajax, Ontario, Canada) and Jamie Smith (Welland, Ontario, Canada) are expected to challenge for a spot in the starting 11, each joining the Pioneers after stellar prep careers, while rookies Lindsey Ogle (Morristown, Tenn.) and Katie Chadwick (Ringgold, Pa.) will compete for playing time amongst Tusculum’s deep defensive corps.
Rachael Jennings (Asheville, N.C.) returns for her sophomore season as the incumbent starter for Tusculum amongst a talented group of goalkeepers, including junior transfer Kelsey Cunningham (Cumming, Ga.) and Sam Miller (Knoxville, Tenn.). Jennings posted a solid rookie campaign for the Pioneers last season, posting a 9-2 record and making 36 saves in 11 starts.
Cunningham is expected to challenge Jennings for the starting spot, joining the Pioneers from Young Harris College after garnering NSCAA/adidas Junior College All-South recognition. Miller rounds out the Pioneer goalkeeper corps, joining TC from Central High School in Knoxville, Tenn. where she was an All-District performer.
With a seasoned group of veterans and a gifted class of newcomers, the Pioneers hope to take advantage of their depth and utilize their nearly ideal blend of youth, talent, and experience to build on last season’s success.
The Pioneers will open the home portion of its schedule on Sept. 10 when Tusculum hosts Milligan at the Niswonger Sports Complex and Pioneer Field.
- TC –
Former Tusculum assistant media relations director Whitney Noble contributed to this release.