Special to GoHolyCross.com
First year Holy Cross women's soccer coach Darren Gallagher is looking to imprint his philosophy on the student-athletes at Holy Cross. "This is a new start for the program," said Gallagher. "I am looking forward to implementing my style of play and views on how players train and play the game. This is certainly a period of transition for the program and I very much look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. It is exciting for the players and coaches to set new goals and objectives and watch them unfold." Gallagher joins the Crusaders after a successful coaching career in the youth and semi professional levels across the United States. A native of Scotland, Gallagher brings a new look and culture to Holy Cross soccer.
The Crusaders will learn from a new coach, but garner leadership from a number of returnees. Holy Cross returns 22 players from last season's squad, including nine starters. Two-time captain senior Kendra Demakis will team up with senior Shelby Stand and junior Lauren Wright as tri-captains to lead the Crusaders on the field. Coach Gallagher will look to the captains to help create a culture of hard work and dedication which are the foundations of any quality program. "It is important to have captains with good character," said Gallagher. "In addition to being talented players, these young women have demonstrated great leadership both on and off the field."
"The ability to score," said Gallagher when asked what he looks for in a forward. "Without stating the obvious, a forward needs to be a predator in and around the box while also possessing the ability to link well and create opportunities for others." Stand and Wright return to lead the attack for the Holy Cross offense. Last season, Stand earned All-Patriot League honors for her performance on the field. She completed the 2008 season with seven goals and five assists and was tied with a team high 19 points. Stand's five assists tied her for eighth on the Holy Cross single-season assist record list. The 2008 season was highlighted by Stand's return to the soccer field after missing the 2007 season due to injury. Wright completed the season with 10 points, scoring four goals and recording two assists and was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 6. Sophomores Liz Early and Lauren McClintic are also expected to add to the offense.
"At center midfield I am looking for technical and creative players that can physically compete," said Gallagher. "At the wide position, a player should possess good one-on-one ability and be able to deliver quality crosses into dangerous areas." Sophomore Katherine Donnelly, the 2008 Patriot League Rookie of the Year, returns to lead the Crusaders in the midfield. Donnelly completed the 2008 season tied for eighth on the Holy Cross single-season goals record list with eight goals and finished as the leading goal scorer for the Crusaders. Donnelly's eight goals combined with three assists gave her 19 points and was just two points shy of making the school single-season top 10 for points scored. In the Patriot League, Donnelly tied for second in goals scored and tied for third in total points. She was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice, once on Sept. 22 and again on Oct. 28. Joining Donnelly in the midfield will be senior Paige Harrison and sophomore Kelsey Dillon, both 19 game starters on last year's squad. Seniors Marielle Gonzalez, Megan Metzger and Justine Cefalu, along with junior Kaitlyn Friday, sophomores Micaela Collins, Claire Murphy and Biz Shenk and newcomers Hannah Earner, Maura Fox, Maggie McGoldrick and Kellie Wiederhold will also contribute at midfield.
Leading the defense for Holy Cross will be three returning starters: Demakis, senior Chelsi Pugliese and sophomore Michaela Morgan. Last season, Demakis led the Crusaders on defense, starting in all 19 games, while Pugliese and Morgan each had 18 starts. Senior Courtney Callahan, junior Jenna Campagna, sophomore Rachel McMahon and freshman Danielle Wasserman will add to the strength of the Holy Cross defense. "Defensive players must be solid in one-on-one situations and be able to apply appropriate cover and balance in group situations," remarked Gallagher. "I look for players that read the game well, communicate with confidence and possess a dogged determination to win the ball. In addition to these defensive skills I will expect our wide players to demonstrate great attacking qualities."
"At goal I am looking for leadership, good technique, good command of area and the ability to play with your feet," commented Gallagher. "The goalkeeper is the last defender and must be ready to offer themselves as an outlet to begin our attack." Senior Jessica Stone and junior Mary Ferketic bring game experience to the net for the Crusaders. Stone started in net for Holy Cross in 13 games last season and has defended the goal in 30 career games for the Crusaders. Ferketic made six starts in net last season and has played in goal in 15 career games for Holy Cross. Newcomer Ashlyn Angell will also contribute at goalkeeper.
Gallagher is excited about the upcoming season. "It is a challenging schedule," said Gallagher. "We face tough opponents all year and welcome the challenges that lie ahead." Holy Cross will open the season at home against Massachusetts on August 28 before hitting the road to face off with Manhattan (Sept. 4) and Boston College (Sept. 6). The Crusaders will return to Worcester for a mid-week game against Providence (Sept. 9) and a Friday night contest against Central Connecticut State (Sept. 11) before traveling to Siena (Sept. 13). Holy Cross will play host to Wagner (Sept. 15) and Fairfield (Sept. 18) and then close out the month on the road at New Hampshire (Sept. 24) and Harvard (Sept. 29).
The Crusaders open up Patriot League action on the road, traveling to Lafayette (Oct. 3), American (Oct. 9) and Navy (Oct. 11). Holy Cross returns to the Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium for a five-game home stand, facing Yale (Oct. 14), Lehigh (Oct. 17), Brown (Oct. 20), Colgate (Oct. 22) and Bucknell (Oct. 25). Holy Cross will close out the regular season at Army (Oct. 31).
The Patriot League Tournament is set for Nov. 6 and 8, on the campus of the regular season champion. The top four teams in the final regular season standings will take part in the tournament.