<< Previous Page
2012 Penn State Altoona Women's Soccer Season Preview
8/31/2012 — The Penn State Altoona women’s soccer team has been no stranger to success in recent years. Over the past four seasons, the team has reached the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship game every fall, winning it in 2008 and 2010.
But this year marks a new chapter for the Lady Lions. Most of the team’s core group of players who helped them reach four AMCC title games in four years have now graduated, and the team will look to a young crop of athletes to step in and contribute right away.
“Our returners are going to be crucial to our success this season. Their experience and leadership will be necessary to rally a young team for what will be a tough season,” said head coach Pam Snyder Etters, who enters her third year at the helm of the team. “They have already shown their veteran skill, leadership, and confidence in the preseason, and our newcomers have responded well.”
The team’s top offensive returner and lone senior is Allysia Ketchem (Lewisburg, PA/Lewisburg). Ketchem earned first team All-AMCC honors last year for the first time in her collegiate career, tying for third in the AMCC in goals scored (12) and tying for second in points (31). Snyder Etters hopes that freshman forward Theresa Deppenschmidt (New Hope, PA/New Hope-Solebury) will draw away some of the opponents’ pressure, which is likely to initially focus on Ketchem.
“I know Allysia will have a major target on her back because she won’t be a surprise to teams anymore,” Snyder Etters explained. “But we have an up-and-coming star in Theresa, and I think she will force defensive lines to balance their focus between the two of them, opening up space for Allysia.”
Another important returner is sophomore midfielder Nicole Zambelli (Kings Park, NY/Kings Park). Zambelli was named third team All-Conference, as she showed herself to be a solid two-way player and emerged down the stretch last fall. Despite having just one assist in her first 16 games, she finished with seven helpers, which tied for first on the team and second in the AMCC.
“Nicole really came to life towards the end of last season and is a player who can really dominate flank play,” said Snyder Etters. “She is strong both on the attack and on defense, which makes her an ideal midfielder.”
The Lady Lions’ defense will be led by returning junior Jessie Kulp (Palmyra, PA/Palmyra). Kulp has shared a part in the team’s rotation on defense since her freshman year, and this fall she will be asked to step into more of a fulltime role.
“Jessie is a key part of our defense this season,” said Snyder Etters. “I really expect her to step up in a big way and help generate some offense and anchor a stingy defense.”
As for the newcomers, Snyder Etters looks for Deppenschmidt and freshman midfielder Emma Willson (Philadelphia, PA/Council Rock North) to make strong contributions. The team’s goalkeeper position will also be manned by a pair of freshmen: Katy Cook (Hollsopple, PA/Bishop McCort) and Mackenzie Strubhar (Hummelstown, PA/Lower Dauphin).
“We have a few newcomers who will be major impact players right away. Theresa and Emma have what it takes to control play in their respective positions,” said Snyder Etters. “Katy and Mackenzie have both had a good showing between the pipes in preseason, and I’m very confident in their abilities to make some big time saves.”
Snyder Etters knows that there will be an adjustment period for her young team. But she is confident in their talent, and with the help of her veteran players, she looks forward to the team coming together and beginning to harvest its potential this fall.
“I believe that, once the nerves of playing college soccer wear off, the new players will handle it just fine,” she said. “I really believe this is a capable and hardworking group, and they will handle the pressure well. We are planning to take it one game at a time and peak when it counts.”
Photo: Sophomore midfielder Nicole Zambelli is one of five important returners for the Lady Lions this season.