MONTEVALLO, Ala. — The Lincoln Memorial women’s soccer program begins its 2015 season this weekend with a pair of nonconference, NCAA Division II contests in Montevallo, Alabama.
The Lady Railsplitters officially opened the season with a 6 p.m. match against West Alabama on Friday night before colliding with host Montevallo at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Both matches will be held on Montevallo’s Varsity Field.
Lincoln Memorial is 10-2 in season openers in the Helio D’Anna era (2003-14). The Lady Railsplitters’ streak of 10 consecutive season-opening victories ended in 2014 with a 4-1 loss to second-ranked West Florida. Before that, the program’s only other season-opening loss in D’Anna’s tenure came in 2003.
Entering his 13th season as the women’s head coach, D’Anna holds a 121-78-17 cumulative record and a career .600 winning percentage. He is currently ranked 41st among active NCAA Division II coaches in terms of total victories.
Junior striker Michelle Hunter (Tecumseh, Ontario, Canada) and senior forward Olivia Thompson (Melbourne, Florida) are expected to lead the offensive attack, as Hunter posted six goals and two assists last season while Thompson accounted for a pair of goals. Both earned All-SAC recognition for their efforts.
The Lady Railsplitters return two senior defensive starters in Lauren Dusold (Spirit Lake, Iowa) and Krista Holka (Harrison Township, Michigan), who helped LMU hold opponents to 1.12 goals per match last season.
Goalkeepers Kayla Stephens (Keller, Texas) and Kathryn Lundy (Pinckney, Michigan) combined to play every minute in net for the Lady Railsplitters in 2014. Stephens posted a 0.99 goals against average with 58 saves while Lundy made seven saves in six outings.
The Lady Railsplitters’ roster features 13 freshmen that will be vying for playing time in the opening weekend of competition.
Know the Opponent
Montevallo – Sunday (2 p.m.)
After suffering through a brutal 1-12-1 season, which included a season-ending, five-match losing streak in 2014, the Falcons are looking to rebound with a roster that is composed of 17 underclassmen under the direction of newly-minted head coach Robert Lane.
Montevallo was outscored 44-13 last season, ranking 236th out of 243 NCAA Division II programs with a 3.05 goals against average.
The Falcons return just one of the five players to score a goal in 2014, as junior midfielder Michaela Graber notched one goal and one assist in 13 appearances last season. Jade Pennock, who posted eight goals and an assist for Montevallo a season ago, opted to transfer to North Georgia for her senior season.
Senior defensive midfielder Charlotte Crisp tied the team lead last season with a pair of assists.
Sophomore netminder Katie Pearson is back after starting 14 matches for the Falcons as a freshman, allowing 40 goals and making 90 saves, the 56th-best mark in the country.
The Falcons were selected 10th out of 12 teams in the Peach Belt Conference preseason coaches’ poll after a second-to-last place finish in 2014 with a 1-8-1 league ledger.
The Lady Railsplitters and Falcons were both members of the Gulf South Conference from 1995-2005, meeting 10 times over that stretch. Lincoln Memorial owns a 7-5-1 advantage in the all-time series when factoring in the two previous nonconference contests. The Lady Railsplitters captured a 1-0 victory in the two programs’ most recent match in 2005.