Just like previous seasons, preseason expectations for the Ursinus College women’s soccer program are high. With a strong group of experienced upperclassmen, the Bears seem primed for a big year. “Our goal is once again to be playoff bound,” said fifth-year head coach Kelly Wakeman.
The team is looking to net some big contributions on the field from senior captains Courtney Sullivan (GK), Katie O’Shea (D), and Jeannie Jasinski (M). Last season, Jasinski, led the team’s offensive output, netting 10 goals. “Jasinski is a very special player who will put her name in the record books this season,” said Coach Wakeman. Additionally, solid seasons are expected from defender Anna Budny, Erin Farrell, and sophomore standout Mackenzie Groff.
Despite sky-high expectations coming into the season, the Bears have stumbled out of the gate, losing four of their last six games. Their season started out with two tough and hard-fought losses to Misericordia and Arcadia.
The Bears then traveled to Oneonta, New York to participate in the annual Mayor’s Cup tournament hosted by Oneonta State. Ursinus defeated Hartwick in their opening game by a score of 3-1; the scoring players were Erin Farrell, Mackenzie Groff, and Phoebe Shoap. For 90 minutes and two overtimes, the Bears had a standoff with host team Oneonta State and finished 1-1 in the final game of the tournament; first-year Sarah Wixted scored. Jasinski was named offensive MVP for the tournament, while Budny, Shoap, and senior Kelly Rosen were named to the all-tournament team.
Since that tournament, the Bears dropped contests to The College of New Jersey and conference foe Gettysburg. All is not lost for them, however, as their goal of making the Centennial Conference playoffs is still very much alive: Most of the conference slate remains in front of the Bears. The women return to action this week, hosting the Alvernia Crusaders on Tuesday before they travel to Franklin & Marshall on Saturday to take on the Diplomats. On the men’s side a new era begins, and boy, did it get off to a crazy start. The squad kicked off the Coach Keith Cappo era in thrilling fashion, besting the newly named Susquehanna River Hawks 1-0 in a double overtime thriller. First-year Rocco Mesoraca, who was also making his Ursinus debut, scored with just 38 seconds remaining to give the Bears an incredible season- opening victory. According to the Ursinus athletics department, the victory over the River Hawks marks the first opening day victory for the team since 2007.
Since that exceptional opening game, the Bears have dropped contests to Misericordia, Gettysburg, and unexpectedly lost another double overtime game to King’s College (Pa.) The Bears then defeated Cabrini 4-2 at Patterson Field in their third match, getting goals from Noah Kimelheim (2), Joe DeMarco, and Ben Amaral.
Coach Cappo and his squad are off to a decent start as he looks to bring the men’s soccer program back to the top of the Centennial Conference.
Along with Coach Cappo, the Bears will look toward captains Ryan Molyneaux and Noah Kimelheim for leadership. Additionally, sophomore standout Ben Amaral is expected to be one of the on-field leaders for Ursinus this season. Cappo emphasized that although the team has plenty of individual talent, he is ultimately expecting an overall team effort. “Each day we are going to need someone to step up,” he said. Ryan Molyneaux echoed Cappo, saying, “What makes our team great is that we don’t just have one player you need to watch out for.” Ursinus also will look to get some solid contributions from Justin Mendez, Justin Molyneaux, and Colin Klingman.
This is a season of transition for the Bears as they look to implement a new system, one that Coach Cappo said will “start from the backline and move forward.” He has already seen improvements in the program: The Bears have already won more games this year than they did all of last season. As Ursinus moves forward this week, they host Marywood on Wednesday before travelling to Carlisle on Saturday for a showdown with conference foe Dickinson.
Moving forward, both the men’s and women’s soccer teams have plenty of time to recover from their early losses. Both squads have almost all of their conference matches still ahead of them and have the opportunity to propel themselves to the top of the standings by besting their remaining conference rivals.