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Penn College Women Open Soccer Season Sunday

Kim Antanitis enters her third season as coach of the Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s soccer team seeking answers.

“We definitely have a lot more difficult schedule. It will be a year to find out where we are heading. We’ve gone from not very hard to extremely difficult, so it will be a good year for evaluation,” Antanitis said.

Penn College won the championship in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference the last two seasons, but this year will play an independent schedule, mixing in some old foes and adding a host of new ones, including Lycoming College, Susquehanna University, Alfred (N.Y.) University and the Elmira (N.Y.) College jayvee team. All are NCAA Division III opponents.

The Wildcats’ starting lineup boasts seven returning players from last year’s squad that posted a 5-7 record. They are defensive stopper Ashley Olvera (junior/Marysville), defender Juliette Yeager (sophomore/Hamburg), center midfielders Justine Wareham (senior/Hollidaysburg) and Bridget Metzger (sophomore/Montoursville), outside midfielders Blair Smith (junior/South Williamsport) and Sarah Coulbourn (junior/Paxinos) and striker Kim Daley (sophomore/Springfield). Wareham, Metzger and Smith are tri-captains.

“We have great experience. They’ve all played together for two years. They communicate well. And, we’ve got some depth, too,” Antanitis said.

Chelsey Holmes, a freshman from Hughesville will open in goal when the Wildcats begin their season at 3 p.m.Sunday at Penn State Abington. (The game originally was scheduled for Saturday, but was postponed.) Filling the other berths will be defender Samantha Wallish (freshman/Hummelstown), striker Hannah McCracken (junior/Williamsport) and either Brittany Van Gilder (freshman/Bloomsburg) or Ashlee Mull (freshman/South Williamsport) at the other outside midfield position.

“McCracken is a transfer who has an excellent soccer background. We are looking for her to be a very serious scoring threat. With Hannah and Daley up front, we should score a lot,” Antanitis said.

Also expected to see considerable playing time off the bench are Erin Oberlin (freshman/New Berlin) and April Champion (freshman/Jersey Shore).

“I think we’ll have a better opportunity to score (this season). This year I have enough girls who can play their positions so we have strikers who can (stay in) their positions. I look to have a much more stable offensive attack,” the coach said.

Defensively, Antanitis said she thinks the strength is there, but it may take a couple of matches to come together.

“It’s always hard the first couple of games when you have a new goalie and a new sweeper because they are controlling what’s going on. That will take some time. But as the season goes along, I think we will be very solid back there. We also have some speed and I look to add that to our advantage.”

Looking ahead, Antanitis said, “I hope to have a positive season. I’m looking for us to have positive games, for us to control the ball. A 1-0 win, if that’s what it takes to win games that’s fine. It will be very interesting.”

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site .)

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