Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 35
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
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MARKING PERIOD: Kayleigh Iatarola, right, marks a player in a game last season for the Princeton University women’s soccer team. Junior tri-captain Iatarola will be depended on to shore up the Princeton midfield as the Tigers look to defend their Ivy League title and make another trip to the NCAA tournament.

Tiger Women’s Soccer Opening 2009 Season, Hoping to Rekindle Last Fall’s Competitive Fire

Bill Alden

Coming into last fall, Julie Shackford professed to be “clueless” about the prospects for her Princeton University women’s soccer team.

With PU head coach Shackford harping on her players to show more competitive fire, the Tigers didn’t waste any time in 2008 letting their foes know that they had a clue about what it took to win close games.

In the season opener against Boston University, the Tigers came from behind to pull out a 2-1 overtime win with senior star Sarah Peteraf scoring a key goal.

Following that blueprint for success, Princeton went on to win eight one-goal decisions and tie for the Ivy League title with Harvard as Peteraf notched a team-high 12 goals.

As Princeton begins its 2009 campaign by hosting Hofstra this Friday evening at Roberts Stadium, Shackford is looking for one of the returning players to catch fire like Peteraf, who had scored just four goals in her first three seasons with the Tigers.

“Obviously we have to replace her but we didn’t know that coming into last year,” said Shackford, referring to the graduated Peteraf. “I am hoping some kids can make huge jumps like that.”

In Shackford’s view, seniors Vicki Anagnostopoulos and tri-captain Marci Pasenello together with sophomore Kalie Bartholomew are the most likely candidates for a break-out season.

“Vicki is back from ACL injury; she is our most natural goal scorer,” said Shackford, who guided Princeton to a 12-3-2 mark last fall and brings a 153-76-16 record into her 15th season at the helm of the program.

“She had four goals against Harvard two years ago and has played well in spurts. I hope Pasenello has a great season. She is now a captain and has grown as a person and a player. She has ability and is a great practice player. The question is can she put it together in games. Bartholomew scored some important goals for us. She has the ability to get by people. She needs to be coached a bit; she needs to make better decisions.”

Shackford may face a big decision if freshman forward Jen Hoy lives up to her advance billing.

“Jen Hoy is about the fastest player I have seen,” asserted Shackford of the former Germantown Academy star.

“She gets on the end of balls you wouldn’t think; she has scored a lot of goals at a lot of different levels. She could be our most complete forward if she acclimates to the college game.”

Princeton has some gamers in the midfield led by junior tri-captain Kayleigh Iatarola.

“Iatarola is just a worker; she can really mark people,” said Shackford of the Dundee, Ill. native who tallied an assist last year and started all 17 games.

“Sara Chehrehsa is a sophomore, she is a really special player. Her first touch is great. Alissa Boddie is a rising sophomore, she is pretty crafty and good with the ball. Barb Previ came on late last season, she set up the goal that beat Columbia. She is an engine out there. Lauren Whatley did fairly well for us last year out wide. Alex Valerio has lots of energy and can play up front or in the midfield.”

A quartet of freshmen, Stephanie Iantorno, Rachel Sheehy, Rachel Saunders, and Caitlin Blosser, could also see action in the midfield this season.

Senior tri-captain Melissa Seitz figures to be in the middle of the action along the Princeton backline.

“Seitz is a leader,” said Shackford of the two-time captain who hails from nearby Basking Ridge.

“When she is on, we’ll be on. She likes to sort the game out, I think she can keep people toeing the line back there. She’ll have more to do without Taylor [Numann] there.”

Others who should see action on defense for Princeton include sophomores Lauren Brown and Kim Menafra together with freshmen Alison Nabatoff and Diane Leggette-Metcalf.

“Brown plays wide in the back, she came on late last year and played well,” added Shackford.

“She has speed and marking ability. Kim Menafra is vying for a spot. She is coming off an ACL and is good at man-marking and has speed. Alison Nabatoff is a freshman center back and that has been her spot for a long time. She sees things well, she is good with the ball. Leggette is a smart player who has the whole package.”

Princeton got a surprise package last year in goalkeeper Alyssa Pont, who rose from an understudy to a first-team All-Ivy League performer, surrendering just eight goals all fall and posting a microscopic 0.50 goals against average.

“We couldn’t take her out,” said Shackford of Pont who played only one game as a freshman in 2007. “She gets it done even if it’s not always pretty.”

In Shackford’s view, this year’s group realizes what needs to be done if it is to repeat as Ivy champions.

“They know it is a thin line between winning the championship and not winning it,” said Shackford, who has guided the Tiger program to five Ivy crowns and seven NCAA appearances in her tenure including a trip to the national semifinals in 2004.

“They know it comes down to doing the little things. We have to be tight defensively; that is something we have been getting better at. We need to develop somebody who can be a scorer like Sarah and find the right combination up front.”

This weekend, Shackford will get ample opportunity to gauge who is going to step up as Princeton takes on Hofstra and then hits the pitch two days later to host St. John’s.

“Those are two quality teams to open up with,” said Shackford, noting that the Tigers fell 1-0 to Hofstra last year in one of their few flat performances of the season.

“Those are very good tests. It is good to have two home games. We played well at home last year and we’d like to do well at home again to get some momentum.”

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