BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - The Union College women's soccer team opens their 2013 season this week, looking to build upon a foundation of success over the last few seasons. Head coach Camila Mendes, entering her third season at the helm of the program, will lead a lineup full of talented underclassmen that features just one senior, looking to improve on an 11-6-1 campaign last season (6-2-1 in AAC).
In all, Union returns 13 players from last year's rosters. Each spot on the pitch will have a returnee leading the way.
Pacing Union offensively will be a pair of juniors - forward Helen Weber and midfielder Aline Dalmedico, who are both coming off stellar sophomore seasons that saw the two lead both the Lady Bulldogs and the AAC in several offensive categories.
Weber earned the Appalachian Athletic Conference's Golden Boot award in 2012 after scoring 10 goals in conference play to lead the league. Meanwhile, Dalmedico was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Year after leading the team in goals scored with 12, while ending the season second in the entire NAIA in shots per game (6.94).
Elsewhere in the midfield, sophomore Morgan Hiles - who started all 18 matches at the position last season - returns, along with junior Jessica Frisby, who played in 16 matches scoring a game-winner in an AAC Tournament game vs. Reinhardt (Ga.) . Joining Weber up front will be sophomore Hayley Fox, who started 17 matches last year at the position, scoring two goals.
The Union defense will be led by experienced student-athletes Danielle Gilbert and Kayse Cornett.
Gilbert, the team's lone senior, started and played in 16 matches a season ago and will look to lead the Lady Bulldogs both on and off the pitch as the team's most experienced player. Cornett, meanwhile, earned All-AAC honors at her position for the second straight season in 2012, and looks to have just as impressive of a season this year. Last season, the Union back line allowed just 26 goals on the year (1.4 goals per match), and looks to improve on that stat this season.
However, the Lady Bulldogs will have to find a way to replace departing All-AAC goalie Stephanie Burton, who started every match the last two seasons in between the pipes for Union.
On the 2013 roster, Union will carry three goalies, all of which have not played in a collegiate match. The trio of freshman goalies that will fight for playing time are - Kendall Ellington, Taylor Hamms, and Corey Bauer.
The three freshman goalies pace a 2013 rookie class for the Lady Bulldogs that includes midfielders Amanda Darling, and Amy Corum, defenders Bianca Kelly and Brittany Gantz, along with Stephanie Miller and Sara Valenzuela. The group all looks to contribute from the start for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Lady Bulldogs will once again play a challenging out-of-conference schedule, along with a regular slate of AAC matches, culminating with the 2013 AAC Tournament in November.
Action kicks-off for the Lady Bulldogs on Wednesday, when they travel to Campbellsville (Ky.) for an intra-state contest against the Mid-South Conference member. To view the game notes for Wednesday's match, click here.
Union will play similar opposition this Saturday, as the team hosts Georgetown (Ky.) in their home opener at Burch-Nau Field.
Following a pair of nonconference games in the State of Ohio at Rio Grande and Mount Vernon Nazarene on Sept. 6 and 7, respectively, the Lady Bulldogs return home to Burch/Nau field on Sept. 10 to open their 2013 AAC slate with a contest against Truett McConnell (Ga.), the conference's newest member.
The rest of the Lady Bulldogs' 2013 slate sees the team face-off with their usual AAC rivals, with home contests against Reinhardt (Ga.) on Sept. 14, Milligan (Tenn.) on Sept. 28, Montreat (N.C.) on Oct. 9, and St. Andrews (N.C.) on Oct. 26, which will be the squad's annual Senior Day. In between these conference tilts, Union will entertain out-of-conference foes St. Catherine (Ky.) (Sept. 24) and Cumberlands (Ky.) (Oct. 12) at home.
To view the Union College women's soccer team's 2013 schedule, click here.