2012 GWU Women's Soccer Season Preview - GWUSports.com—Official Web Site of Gardner-Webb Athletics
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Courtesy: Gardner-Webb
2012 GWU Women's Soccer Season Preview
Courtesy: Gardner-Webb
          Release: August 09, 2012
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Boiling Springs, N.C. - Gardner-Webb women's soccer approaches the upcoming competition season with high hopes, fueled by a blend of veteran leadership and budding young talent reaching for success in 2012.

Coming off a season in which the team had three student-athletes honored with postseason awards by the Big South Conference, and earned a berth in the Conference's postseason tournament, the 2012 version of the Runnin' Bulldogs women's soccer team looks to build on last season's success thanks to that crucial combination of experience and young energy.

That youthful energy has already shown itself in the form of several second half comebacks completed last season. Perhaps the highlight came in the 4-3 overtime win at home vs. UNC Asheville, a key win in conference play which helped secure a berth in the Big South Tournament. After posting five second-half comebacks in 2011, the Runnin' Bulldogs will look to keep that magic going again this season.

Gardner-Webb returns two seniors who share valuable game experience between them. Senior defender Taylor Napoli (Wyomissing, Pa.), a three-year starter, will look to lead a defensive attack that returns two starters from a season ago. Napoli has started 43 games in three seasons as part of the Runnin' Bulldogs' defensive third. Fellow senior Sarah Morabito (Irmo, S.C.) has also provided key leadership throughout her career. Having started 36 matches at GWU, Morabito has the ability to contribute from both the midfield and defensive positions, and is one of two GWU seniors who will look to provide valuable minutes in solidifying Gardner-Webb's defensive effort around the goal this season.

Adding to this core of veteran leadership is a host of performers with both talent and experience, including Big South All-Freshman midfielder Megan Curan (Mooresville, N.C.). The sophomore leads all returners in goals (five) and assists (four) accounted for in 2011, and figures to be a key offensive contributor for the Runnin' Bulldogs again this season. Junior Meagan Reynolds (Kings Mountain, N.C.) figures to be a key factor offensively as well, having scored seven goals and dished out four assists in her two seasons at GWU.

Junior Ele Margelos (North Potomac, Md.) also looks to add experience up front for Gardner-Webb, as the versatile player has tallied four goals in two seasons as a key part of the Runnin' Bulldog attack. Redshirt sophomore Arielle McCarthy Crum-Ewing (Oshawa, Ontario, Canada) adds nine games of starting experience to GWU's offense after sitting out last year with a season-ending injury and will look to contribute to the Runnin' Bulldog offense in 2012. True freshmen Tara Woelfel (Thurmont, Md.), Kadesha Otzko (Cape Coral, Fla.), Ashley Carmean (Ashburn, Va.), Nichole Poppe (Youngsville, N.C.), Shelby Hooe (Mechanicsville, Va.), Whitley Bowman (Damascus, Md.), and Brayden Pruitt (Shelby, N.C.) will also be in the mix, adding firepower as Gardner-Webb looks for goal-scoring opportunities this season.

In the midfield, Gardner-Webb looks to field youthful energy. In addition to Curan and Morabito, junior Karyn Latorre (Bogota, Colombia) will build on the experience she gained a year ago and figures to play a prominent role as a midfielder in 2012. Junior Megan Loftin (Kings Mountain, N.C.) also looks to add valuable game experience for GWU during the 2012 season, holding twelve games of starting experience combined from her freshman and sophomore seasons. Also figuring to contribute in the midfield this season is sophomore Lydia Fuller (Wake Forest, N.C., nine games played in 2011), as well as freshmen Samantha Gutierrez (Austin, Texas), Mary Toohey (Winston-Salem, N.C.), and Marian Marr (Clover, S.C.).

Defensively, Gardner-Webb returns two starters in Napoli and sophomore Addison Abee (Charlotte, N.C.). Abee started 18 games in the defensive third for the Runnin' Bulldogs a season ago, including several at center-back late in the year, and figures to be a foundation of GWU's defense again in 2012. Abee has also shown the ability to contribute offensively, registering the game-tying assist in last season's 2-2 tie vs. High Point.

Junior Shaylyn Poppe (Youngsville, N.C.) figures to increase the already valuable role she held last season, fellow junior Jessica Casper's (Perkasie, Pa.), as the two have a combined 28 starts for the Runnin' Bulldogs in their careers. Gardner-Webb's depth in its defensive rotation will be bolstered thanks to a group of up-and-coming underclassmen, including sophomore Whitney Emerson (Olive Branch, Miss., 7 games played in 2011). Gardner-Webb will receive further help from a group of talented freshmen defenders. Tori James (Fayetteville, Ga.), Marr, Brianna Fraire (Clemmons, N.C.), Brooke Kelly (Lawrenceville, Ga.), and Maria Pack (Frederick, Md.) will bolster a talent-rich GWU defensive third for 2012.

In goal, Gardner-Webb returns sophomore Amy Schmitt (Waxhaw, N.C.), who comes into the 2012 season having played in three matches as a freshman. The 6-0 sophomore made the start in Gardner-Webb's first round Big South Tournament match vs. Campbell, recording three saves in the first half of the postseason matchup. Gardner-Webb also returns talented redshirt junior Mariah Peters (Lorton, Va.), who will also be in the mix to help out at goalkeeper in the upcoming season.

The Runnin' Bulldogs kick off the 2012 season with an exhibition match at Davidson on Monday, August 13.

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