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WCCountdown: Edwards Era Begins At Saint Mary's

Aug. 12, 2009

Moraga, CA - Under first-year head coach Kai Edwards, the Saint Mary's women's soccer team looks to climb back into the top half of the conference standings for the first time since the 2003 season. Edwards' challenge will be to mold 13 returners and 14 newcomers into a cohesive unit that will look to improve upon last year's 1-5-1 WCC record.

"We have had a great start to our preseason," said Edwards. "The intensity in training is exciting to see and shows this group is ready to take steps forward as a program. This group of ladies will work for everything and will earn everything they get this year."

The Gaels enter the season with seven starters returning from last year's team that posted an 8-9-2 overall record. Highlighting the returners are senior forward Ashley Nied, a 2008 Honorable Mention All-WCC selection who led the team with seven goals and 14 points as a junior, senior goalkeeper Tara Larson and senior forward Jessica Menzhuber.

Larson started every game in goal for the Gaels in 2008, and recorded a WCC leading 99 saves in 19 games. She posted a 1.51 goals against average during her junior season, while posting four shutouts. After spending most of the 2008 season as a defensive midfielder, Edwards will move Menzhuber back to her more familiar forward position for her senior season. Menzhuber had four points on one goal and two assists in 2008.





"We have had a great start to our preseason. The intensity in training is exciting to see and shows this group is ready to take steps forward as a program. This group of ladies will work for everything and will earn everything they get this year."
- First-year Head Coach Kai Edwards


Other returning starters include sophomore defender Sidney Garza, junior forward Alex Ciliento, senior defender Ashley Dernbach and senior defender Noelle Brown. Ciliento finished the 2008 season with five points, scoring one goal and dishing out three assists in just 13 games. In her two years at SMC, Ciliento has scored six goals, with five coming during her freshman season. Brown was one of three players to start every game in 2008.

The Gaels welcome a number of new players, which include three transfers and 11 freshmen. The transfers include defender Caroline Shevlin from Long Beach State, goalkeeper Michelle Harrison from Idaho State, and Alyssa Stearns from UC Riverside.

Shevlin, a 5-5 defender and a member of the U20 Peruvian National Team since 2005, is the most experienced transfer, as she was a two-year letter winner for the 49ers. In her two seasons at LBSU, Shevlin played in 26 games and made 10 starts and was on the 2008 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament. As a freshman, she played in all 20 games, with nine as a starter, and during the stretch when she started seven straight games, LBSU posted three shutouts and won six of seven contests.

"The experiences that Caroline brings, playing in the NCAA Tournament and playing for the Peruvian National Team, will raise the level of our team immediately." said Edwards.

Highlighting the incoming class of freshmen are forwards Christina Tognetti (Santa Rosa, CA) and Mackenzie Garrett (Samamish, WA), midfielders Kara Yamamoto (Honolulu, HI), Caroline Kreuz (Portland, OR), Leeah Schilling (Vancouver, WA), and Kirsty Adams (Kapolei, HI), and defender Erin Kearney (Carnation, WA).

Saint Mary's will open the season at Pacific on Friday, August 21. The Gaels' match against the Tigers will kick off at 7 p.m. from the Amos Alonzo Stagg Memorial Stadium in Stockton, CA.