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Michelle Watson anchors one of the top returning defenses in the MAC.
Courtesy: GS Photo

2013 Women's Soccer Preview

Courtesy: Adam Bodnar, assistant director of media relations
Release: 08/22/2013
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KALAMAZOO -- The 2013 regular season kicks off on Friday for the Western Michigan women's soccer team with a road trip to Saint Louis, followed by a game at Iowa on Sunday afternoon.

The Broncos are looking to rebound from a tough season that saw them just miss out on the Mid-American Conference Playoffs. But bright things loom on the horizon for the team that returns its top four scorers and four key pieces to a defensive core that was second-best in the MAC.

Second-year head coach Nate Norman says the key to the defense will be senior goalkeeper Michelle Watson (Cincinnati, Ohio/McAuley HS).

"Michelle is a great leader," praised Norman. "She did a great job last year with a very young back line and kept them very well organized."

Watson helped the team record four shutouts last season, pushing her career total to 16. Already the single-season shutout record holder, she sits just four shy of tying Katie Perz (2002-05) for the program record.

Helping Watson out was sophomore center back Lindsey Lee, sophomore outside back Heather Piccariello (Shelby Township, Mich./Eisenhower HS) and senior outside back Lauren Fearday (Ann Arbor, Mich./Pioneer HS). Lee started all 18 games her freshman season, with Fearday also starting all 18 as well.

While the defense was rock solid the offense struggled at times, scoring only 14 goals on the season. The chances and creativity were there as the Broncos fired off 257 shots while allowing just 182 by their opponents.

"We had no problem creating good scoring chances," Norman said. "We just couldn't get that finishing touch. I think with the attacking talent we have returning and what we have added, we should find the back of the net more this season."

Junior Rachel Chaney (Shelby Township, Mich./Utica HS) led the team in goals scored last season with four and also chipped in two assists for a team-high 10 points. Diana Devukaj (Clinton Township, Mich./Chippewa valley HS) tallied three goals and two assists for eight points, while junior Aubrey Sudomier (Shelby Township, Mich./Eisenhower HS) and sophomore Kyle Nylen each netted two goals last season.

Adding to the attacking depth will be sophomore transfers Gina Maddi (Naperville, Ill/Miami Fla.) and Ali Russo (Kalamazoo, Mich./Central Michigan). The incoming freshman class of Olivia Vollmers (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS), Liz Abro (Troy, Mich./Athens HS) and Mackenzie Barber (Rochester, Mich./Adams HS) will also add to the Bronco attack. Freshmen Megan Ross (Shelby Township, Mich,/Utica HS), Alex Dinser (Dexter, Mich./Dexter HS) and Jewell Edwards (Kentwood, Mich./East Kentwood HS) will also add depth to WMU's defensive ranks.

Senior Megan Putnam (Kalamazoo, Mich./Hackett HS) will be a key piece in dictating WMU's play from the midfield. Despite being hampered with injuries last season she still started in all 18 games. Nicole Hatcliffe (Bury, England/Elton HS) was typically the first off the bench for coach Norman last season, appearing in all 18 games and scoring her first collegiate goal from her typically wide-midfield position. Speedster Ariana Donahue (Lapeer, Mich./Lapeer East HS), who missed time with injury last season, returns to help add width to the midfield.

The Broncos host Cleveland State on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 1 p.m. for their regular season home-opener and wrap up the non-conference schedule hosting Western Illinois on Sunday, Sept. 22 at noon. WMU has six of its 11 MAC games at the recently renovated WMU Soccer Complex this season.