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Women's Soccer Preview: Coach Flaherty aims for fresh start

Junior midfielder Avery Pierce '10 is one of three team captains.

LEWISTON, Maine -- Bates women’s soccer team didn’t qualify for the NESCAC Championship last season for the first time in the tournament’s eight-year existence. However, despite the disappointment, interim head coach Carla Flaherty ’03 says she isn’t concerned about last season’s performance.


The Bobcats' season opens this Saturday at 11 a.m. with a NESCAC home game against Williams.

“I am looking forward to starting fresh with this group and am excited about the possibilities of the 2008 season,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty stands in for head coach Jim Murphy ’69 as he goes on sabbatical for the semester (Murphy will coach the women’s basketball team this coming season). While Murphy’s absence will make for some changes, Flaherty has served as assistant coach since 2005, so the team is well familiar with her.

“I am not Coach Murphy, so naturally I think there will be differences,” she said. “However, my goals are to run organized, efficient and effective practices to help prepare the team for NESCAC play,” Flaherty said.

Last year, Bates had 228 shots to their opponents’ 196 against them, ranking seventh in the NESCAC for shots. They scored 14 goals, four of which were against NESCAC opponents and one of which resulted in a NESCAC game-winner against Colby. In 2005, the team went 50-280 on goals to shots, won the NESCAC Championships over Tufts and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. Flaherty hopes to work on finishing off scoring opportunities and to aim for another NESCAC title and NCAA tournament bid.

“I think we need to focus on putting balls in the back of the net and dominating midfield play,” Flaherty said. “When we step on the soccer field, not only are we playing for our teammates and ourselves, but we are representing Bates. It is truly special to put on a uniform for your college. I hope that every member of our team realizes what a privilege it is to compete at Bates and at this level. From day one we hope to develop a positive winning mentality.”

The team graduated its starting goalkeeper last year, Nini Spalding, as well as co-captains Jen Pflanz, Molly Wagner and last year’s leading scorer, Ali Emery. However, the team is not lacking in leaders. Seniors Julie Brown (Lynnfield, Mass.) and Caitlin McMahon (Sudbury, Mass.) will team up with junior Avery Pierce (Weston, Mass.) as the team’s captains. Sophomore Brittney French (Auburn, Maine) is expected to assume the starting goaltender spot.

“I think we have wonderful leadership with this year’s group, however, if we are going to be successful then it will take a group effort to not only make the tournament, but to win the NESCAC championship and to advance in the NCAA tourney,” Flaherty said.

Flaherty is also enthusiastic about the incoming first-year players on the team, but said they are a piece of the puzzle that the team will need to put together in order to be successful, stressing the importance of the team over the individual.

“There are no upsets in NESCAC women’s soccer,” Flaherty said. “We must show up for every game and we must leave everything on the field. I am thrilled to begin our season.”