Column: Women’s Soccer team set to unveil Parsons Field makeover

Column: Women’s Soccer team set to unveil Parsons Field makeover

by Jared Shafran, News Staff

As summer comes to a close, it’s finally time to get the 2010-11 season underway. To open Northeastern’s fall season, the women’s soccer team will welcome reigning Southeast Conference (SEC) champion South Carolina to the newly renovated Parsons Field.
Parsons, which no longer hosts any collegiate football, was in desperate need of a face-lift, and the women will look to kick things off in a positive way Sunday.

The team finished at the top of the conference regular season standings last year, so I was surprised to see that it was picked fifth in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Pre-Season Coaches Poll and only received one first-place vote.

But last year wasn’t a fluke. Two years ago the team went to the NCAA Tournament after sneaking into the CAA playoffs and running the table.

So what has changed about this team? Could head coach Ed Matz leaving for a job with UMass really mean such a steep drop from first to fifth?

I’ll admit that I was skeptical at the outset when he announced his departure, but new coach Tracey Leone has some very impressive credentials on her resume coming in. She won three national championships while playing midfielder at North Carolina, led Clemson to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances, and won a gold medal in 2004 with the U.S. women’s soccer national team.

Although this team might not have as much talent as Leone had in previous years in the Athletic Coast Conference (ACC), a coaching change shouldn’t account for such a drop in the standings. This was a team that was undefeated at home in the regular season last year.

The team will also return standout forward Devin Petta, who was just picked as the conference’s pre-season Player of the Year and put up a school record 35 points last season, despite an ACL injury. As well as forward Veronica Napoli, who should also figure for some scoring as she is entering her junior season.

Although senior Liza Rebello and sophomore Stephanie Gordon are gone, the Huskies still have a lot going for them.

If Petta can duplicate what she did as a rookie last season, and the Huskies can find some stability in net, there doesn’t seem to be a reason why this team couldn’t compete to host the CAA Tournament once again come November.
This weekend, when South Carolina comes to town, there is more at stake than the unveiling of the Parsons renovations. The Gamecocks come in ranked No. 12 after a season in which they went 19-4-2 and won the Southeast Conference Tournament.

This year, just like the last few, has the opportunity to be a big year in athletics for Northeastern, and it’s great that such a big-time opponent is coming to Boston to get it all started.

The Huskies have a great opportunity on their hands. They win this weekend and they’ll get the season started on the right foot, showing everyone in the CAA that they are for real. But they can also set the tone for other fall sports starting up like volleyball Aug. 27, field hockey Aug. 28, and men’s soccer and cross country Sept. 3.

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