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Eastern Florida's Women's Soccer Team Begins Season with Lofty Ranking and High Expectations
Aug. 22, 2013 - Expectations are clear for Eastern Florida State College's women's soccer team.
After all the Titans begin their fourth season as a program as the No. 2-ranked team in the nation in polls conducted by the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Eastern Florida (then known as Brevard Community College) spent four weeks as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation in 2012. It finished the season with a 15-2 record and as the NJCAA Division I national championship runner-up, losing 3-0 in the title game to Paradise Valley Community College of Arizona.
To that end head coach Jeff Carr challenged his team at its first-preseason practice with the motto of Unfinished Business.
For the business to be finished Eastern Florida faces the challenge of returning to the national tournament which it is hosting for the third straight year and through 2016, this time at the team's new Melbourne campus soccer facility.
Now with three scrimmages — two against four-year colleges — behind it Eastern Florida travels to Perkinston, MS to open its regular season. The Titans play a 5 p.m. Eastern time game on Friday against Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and a 2 p.m. Eastern game on Saturday vs. 2012 NJCAA District H foe Pearl River (MS) Community College.
Eastern Florida won the district game 4-0 last November in Poplarville, MS, to advance to the national tournament.
The same path waits this season. And given his team's 2012 success and its standing in the 2013 polls Carr expects a stiff challenge with each game. He believes his team is ready.
"We've worked hard," he said of the pre-season. "We have a good nucleus of players returning from 2012 who lived through the run to the national tournament, the experience of playing in the tournament and the disappointment of losing in the final.
"Combine that with a talented group of newcomers who are eager to show what they can do and eager to play on the big stage and I believe we can hold our own."
Carr will be counting on his game-tested sophomore defenders co-captain Jess Fassnidge of Worcestershire, England and Christopher Whitehead High; Jade Rhodes of Bournemouth, England and Highcliffe High; and All-American Heather Williams of Homestead, FL and South Dade High. Also, talented midfielder and co-captain Sue Kumaning of London, England and Harefield Academy. He expects offensive production from fleet forwards in sophomore newcomers Nikki Mitchell of Toronto, Canada and the City Adult Learning Center; and Jenci Villaverde of Palm Bay, FL and Florida Gulf Coast University and sophomore returnee Amanda Lodge of Jacksonville, FL and Fleming Island High.
Also expected to contribute are sophomore returnees and midfielders Katlyn Bales of Palm Bay, FL and Palm Bay High and Kelsey Smith of Port St. Lucie, FL and Martin County High; freshman defenders/midfielders Jamie Perriello of Boca Raton and Boca Raton Community High, FL; and Samanta Solis of Orlando, FL and University High; sophomore newcomer midfielder/forward Kimmie Tierney of Jacksonville and Young Harris College; freshmen midfielders Meghan Mauzy of Titusville, FL and Titusville High; and Devin McAllister of Melbourne, FL and Melbourne Central Catholic High.
Goalkeeping duties will fall to sophomore newcomer Amy Clason-Messina of Bend, OR and Central Oregon Community College and sophomore returnee Katelyn Kern of Deltona, FL and West Orange High.
Fassnidge is using the 2012 season as motivation for 2013.
"It's a massive motivation for sure," she said. "We worked so hard last season, we put in everything we had. We came so close.
"It just makes us hungrier this year."
To that end she and Kumaning, as co-captains, have been emphasizing how last season ended.
"The returning players knew that feeling after nationals," Fassnidge said. "It was the worst moment of our life. Sue and I have emphasized 'this is not what you want. You don't want to go through what we've been through. That was heartache. That was pain.'
"This year we don't want that. We want to be champions."
Eastern Florida plays its first home matches on its new Melbourne Campus field at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 against 2012 national tournament participant and nationally ranked St. Louis Community College and at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 1 against Cerritos (CA) Community College.
Cerritos won the 2012 California Community College Athletic Association championship and was named the Division III (non-scholarship) National Champion by the NSCAA.
Things don't get any easier from there as Eastern Florida hosts Florida College System Activities Association/NJCAA Region 8 foe Polk State College at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 7. The Titans then travel to play 2012 NJCAA national tournament participant and nationally ranked Monroe (N.Y.) Community College at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 and Jackson (MI) Community College at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. Both games are in Rochester, N.Y.
Eastern Florida plays Polk and fellow FCSAA/Region 8 foe Broward College three times each with the team with the best record advancing to the postseason.
"We've got our work cut out for us, there is no doubt about that," Carr said.
"The players and the coaches realize the magnitude of playing with a target on our backs and realize things will not come easily. Each of our opponents will come ready to compete and we will need to as well."
Carr is assisted by Mark Nicole, Calvin Dixon and Dick Schroeder.