Date Posted:09/04/2003,  4:00PM

2003 Women's Soccer Preview

BRUNSWICK, Maine - The Bowdoin College women's soccer team has a tradition of success like few others in New England. A testament to that is the team's 49-11-4 record over the past four seasons and the fact that the 26-year-old program has never had a losing season. Coming off a 12-2-2 campaign that saw them fall in penalty kicks in the NESCAC Semifinals, Bowdoin has already battled through preseason injuries and will undoubtedly be in the hunt again for a NESCAC Championship in 2003.

The Polar Bears will enter the 2003 season without two of their leading scorers from last year- Rachael Gordon (studying abroad) and Christina Woodward (leg injury) accounted for two of Bowdoin?s top five scorers from last year. But spirits have not been hampered in Brunswick, as the Polar Bears return a fair amount of firepower to make up for the losses.

Up front, leading scorer Jill Falwell (Arlington, Mass.) had 11 tallies last year and has scored 26 career goals, placing her fourth all-time at the school. Hillary Smith (Denver, Colo.) and Cedar Goldman (Newton, Mass.) combined to score nine goals last season. Sophomore softball standout Danielle Chagnon (Windsor Locks, Conn.) will join the forwards on the soccer squad this season, as will newcomers Katherine Donoghue (Plandome, N.Y.) and Elizabeth Graham (New York, N.Y.).

In the midfield, a group of veterans returns to lead the corps. The veterans include seniors Michal Shapiro (Newton, Mass.), Julie Barnes (Wayne, Pa.) and Christine Goss (Shrewsbury, Mass.) with sophomore Kelsey Wilcox (Cumberland, Maine). Wilcox scored three goals last year, while Goss and Barnes scored two apiece. First-year Ivy Blackmore (Hamilton, N.Y.) will look to make an immediate impact in the middle.

"As always with soccer, our success will be a question of offensive production," according to head coach John Cullen, who enters his 19th year as Bowdoin?s coach with 199 career wins. "We do have a fairly veteran crew defensively, so it?ll be a question of where the goals will come from."

In back, Bowdoin returns All-New England and All-NESCAC standout Kendall Cox (Guilford, Conn.). In addition to Cox, senior Leah Bressack (Los Altos, Calif.), juniors Melissa Anderson (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and Julie Gallant (Acton, Mass.) with sophomores Meredith Railsback (Concord, Mass.) and Kerri Brennan (Arlington, Mass.) will account for the deepest and potentially strongest part of the team. First-years Holly Maloney (Framingham, Mass.), Jenna Pariseau (Williston, Vt.) and Elizabeth Laurits (Wakefield, Mass.) will fight for playing time this season.

In goal, junior Anna Shapell (Cape Elizabeth, Maine) returns with her outstanding 0.75 goals-against-average from last season. Shapell allowed only nine goals in 14 games played and posted six shutouts. Senior co-captain and netminder Rebekah Metzler (Hancock, Maine) will back-up Shapell in net and bring leadership to a squad with ten underclassmen.

Bowdoin plays will open their season Saturday against Babson at home and will host NESCAC contests against Williams, Wesleyan, Connecticut College and Colby. A tough road schedule includes away games at Amherst, Middlebury, Tufts, Trinity and Bates.

"We were a tie against Wesleyan away from hosting the NESCAC Tournament last season," says Cullen. "The league should be strong from top-to-bottom again this year, so it will be necessary for us to bring intensity and focus into every contest we play."