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    NC State officially opens its gates this weekend for the first two matches at the new on-campus NC State Soccer Stadium. The women’s soccer team will host Wofford on Friday night at 7 pm and will be right back in action Sunday against Western Carolina at 1 pm.

    Parking is available beginning at 5:30 p.m. in the parking deck next to Reynolds Coliseum, which is across Cates Avenue from the soccer field.

    In conjunction with the two matches, head coach Laura Kerrigan and NC State are welcoming back its alumni to take part in this exciting new chapter of Wolfpack soccer.

    During Friday’s opener, all alumni in attendance will be recognized at halftime. Then on Saturday an alumni game will take place at Method Road Soccer Stadium at 11 a.m. That will be immediately followed by an alumni gathering at Sammy’s Tap & Grill on Avent Ferry Road beginning at 1 p.m.

    Previewing the Pack in 2008
    Kerrigan begins her 11th season at the helm of the Wolfpack and welcomes back 16 letterwinners and nine starters from 2007. Additionally, 12 newcomers have been brought in, 11 freshmen and one transfer.

    Senior Lindsay Vera is primed for her final go around with the Pack and is one of the top scoring threats in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Houston, Texas, native has compiled 18 career goals, including eight markers last season to earn second team all-league honors for a second straight season. She opened the 2007 campaign with three goals in a 5-1 win over Davidson. She was one of only six players in the ACC to have a hat trick last year.

    The other senior, Tami Krzeszewski, has started every match the last three years and will extend that streak to 57 games on Friday, however, this time she will likely start in the back for the first time in her Wolfpack career. The Erie, Pa., native has 12 points to her credit with three goals and six assists.

    Here is a position breakdown leading into the season.

    GOALKEEPERS
    Sophomore Rachel Barnette (Peachtree, Ga.) has been elevated to the top of the depth chart between the pipes. She saw time in 10 matches last year and made six starts as a freshman. “Rachel is coming off a tremendous spring season for us, where she was able to step up and be the pressure player that we need at that position,” said Kerrigan.

    Also in the mix in net is highly recruited freshman Kim Kern (Raleigh, N.C.). A four-year starter at Leesville Road, Kern helped lead the club to the 4-A state title her senior season by recording 22 shutouts, which led to her third consecutive all-state honor in 2008. She was also a member of the Region III ODP team and has much experience in pressure-filled games.

    DEFENDERS
    The back line will feature two players who started all 19 games last season, junior Katie Ruiz (Seaville, N.J.) and sophomore Alex Berger (Cary, N.C.). Additionally, sophomore Kaitlin Wescoe (Garner, N.C.), who started the final four matches last year and Krzeszewski, who started every match at midfield last year, may see extended time on defense this season. Junior Gia Cipollini (Cary, N.C.) made 19 starts on defense last season, but may see more time up front as she had an excellent spring at that position. Also returning is sophomore Ashley Shoemaker (Cary, N.C.), who had to red-shirt last season due to injuries, but will look to provide depth to the back line for the Pack.

    New to the fold in the back is a pair of freshmen from Charlotte, N.C., Emily Bullard and Jordan Edwards, and Stephanie Partenheimer (Apex, N.C.), who will mostly likely see time at several positions for the Wolfpack this season.

    MIDFIELDERS
    The center of the pitch has large shoes to fill after the graduation of do-it-all midfielder Jessica O’Rourke. Returning to the position will be junior Kendall Irby (Woodbridge, Va.), who made 10 starts last season playing through shoulder injuries, and junior Meredith Parrilla (Wyckoff, N.J.), who saw time in 17 matches (seven starts) last season, despite battling illness throughout the season.

    Also back in the fold are Chantalle Dugas (Oshawa, Ontario), who has played primarily up front for the Pack in the past, and sophomore Samantha Herrmann (Islip, N.Y.), who had to undergo surgery this past summer, but is hoping to return this fall. Sophomore Alyson Santilli (Cary, N.C.), like Krzeszewski, is expected to play a number of positions for the Pack this season, including the midfield.

    Notable incomers include Jessica Herrmann (Islip, N.Y.), who transferred in from Penn State last winter and was able to get a valuable spring season under her belt for the Pack. In addition, highly talented freshmen Erika Markley (St. Peter’s, Pa.), Stephanie Horvath (Normal, Ill.), and Partenheimer will all battle for time in their first season donning the red and white.

    FORWARDS
    As mentioned before, Vera is back for her final season and will be the unquestioned leader up front in 2008. She is coming off a very successful summer leading the Carolina Railhawks of the W-League in scoring.

    Also back to lend a hand in the scoring column is junior Briana Cunningham (Missouri City, Texas), who played as a forward for the Wolfpack in her freshman season, but had to move to the back line last season. Sophomores Nadia Aboulhosn (Raleigh, N.C.) and Kara Baldy (Raleigh, N.C.) scored three goals each last year and are expected to step up to contribute even more this season.

    Cipollini and Dugas also may spend much of their time up front to provide more scoring punch for NC State. Cipollini spent all of last season in the back, while Dugas is no stranger to pressing the action as she led the team in assists with five last season.

    Freshmen Tanya Cain (Pinebluff, N.C.), Amanda Carr (Punta Gorda, Fla.), Paige Dugal (Garner, N.C.), Casey Kilburn (Raleigh, N.C.) and Kristina Argiroff (Kill Devil Hills, N.C.) all have the opportunity to work themselves into the regular rotation, as they have all proven to be prolific goal scorers at the club and high school levels.

    A quick look at this weekends opponents:

    Touting the Terriers
    Wofford, under the guidance of 10th-year head coach Amy Kiah, returns six starters from a club that posted a 7-11-2 mark in 2007. Junior forward Monica Ploetzke is the Terriers top returning scorer after posting nine points on three goals and three assists last season. Four of the top-five scorers from 2007 either graduated or are no longer with the program.

    Raleigh native Katie McChesney returns for her second season in net after playing every minute of every match as a freshman. She owned a 1.52 goals-against-average with six shutouts.

    Three other members of the squad hail from the Triangle, including Lauren Cozzarelli and Sydney Reed, who both played at Apex High School, while Maggie McLaughlin played at Cary.

    Wofford visits High Point on Sunday at 2 p.m.

    Catching up with the Catamounts
    Western Carolina, led by fourth-year head coach Tammy DeCesare, returns three of its top-five point producers from the 2007 squad that finished with a 9-8-3 record. Junior Bri Cunningham was tied for the team lead with nine points (four goals, one assist), while classmate Shannon Fowkes (seven points; three goals, one assist) and red-shirt junior Rachel Shomper (six points; three goals) are also back in the lineup.

    The Catamounts only have two seniors on this year's squad in Buki Baruwa (Cary, N.C.) and Arlan Whittle, who was a teammate of NC State goalkeeper Rachel Barnette at McIntosh High School in Peachtree, Ga. There are 10 juniors, including a pair of transfers, including Kelly Estes from NC State. The remaining 21 roster spots are filled with sophomores and freshmen.

    Caitlin Williams saw the bulk of the playing time between the pipes as a freshman last year. She started 19 matches and finished the season with a 0.90 goals-against-average and six shutouts.

    Western hosted Cincinnati for a scrimmage on Aug. 11 and fell 1-0 to the Bearcats.

    The Catamounts open the season Friday at East Carolina in Greenville.


     

     

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