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The 2014 Stetson Hatters
by: Stetson University
2014 Women's Soccer Season Preview
Courtesy: Stetson University  
Release:  08/21/2014
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The first season with a new program is always a learning experience for a head coach, even a veteran one like Manoj Khettry. And the Hatters and Khettry learned quickly in 2013, exceeding preseason expectations by finishing fifth in the Atlantic Sun Conference and reaching the conference tournament for the first time in three seasons.

While year two should be a little easier for Khettry and the Hatters from a familiarity standpoint, the 2014 season won’t be without its challenges. The Hatters face a grueling non-conference schedule while at the same time welcoming 14 freshmen into the program.

Khettry says it’s all part of his plan to turn Stetson women’s soccer into a consistently strong program.

“I think putting your stamp on a program takes time,” he said. “I think it takes 3-5 years to do it effectively. We are now in year two. It’s exciting but I’m sure we will continue to have growing pains. The most important thing for us as we move forward is to make sure that we keep our focus on what our long-term goals are while still getting after it in the short term.”

Last season was a bit of a surprise for the Hatters, especially considering Khettry arrived on campus in early April and didn’t have much time to recruit. The Hatters opened the season with a 6-6-2 mark and were second in A-Sun play when senior goalkeeper Victoria Troccoli went down with injury. She missed the final four games and the Hatters, missing their leader, lost all of their remaining contests.

Considering they were picked ninth in the preseason poll, the Hatters enjoyed a successful year in 2013. The six total victories were the most in three seasons, while Stetson’s four conference wins tied for the most in four years. Needless to say, the expectations for this season are higher.

“We want to continue to move up the standings in conference play,” said Khettry. “We finished fifth last year. Had we finished fourth we would have hosted a conference tournament game, so one of goals for this year is to finish in the top four. We have a much tougher non-conference schedule this year, so we’re going to have to manage expectations due to how tough that portion of our schedule is.”

In addition to the loss of Troccoli, who started 31 games in goal in her two seasons with the Hatters, Khettry will also have to replace the production of graduated first-team All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection Amber Grose, who led the Stetson offense with six assists. Seniors Alyssa Welch (4g, 2a) and Kait Jones (4g) also exhausted their eligibility.

Stetson faces non-conference challenges against the likes of Miami (Fla.), Florida State, Navy, Minnesota and Florida Atlantic, among others.

“This is more difficult of a non-conference schedule than we played last year,” said Khettry. “There are benefits to playing a difficult non-conference schedule because it does prepare you for conference play. The key, however, is in order to maintain and build confidence you have to win some games.”

While the Hatters will field what is expected to be one of the youngest teams in the nation, Khettry returns several important veterans who will be counted on to not only field roles on the field, but also in the locker room, helping to guide a young squad.

“We have a pretty welcoming and accepting group of upper classmen,” he said. “While they are looking forward to the competition on the field, I’ll also be counting on them to show our freshman what we are all about and how we do things on an off the field.

“As for the freshmen, how fit they are when they arrive on campus will likely dictate their standing as far as playing time. Freshmen typically struggle with the speed of the game and the speed at which they have to make decisions. The freshmen who do well in preseason are almost always the most fit.”

Khettery named seniors Alexis Trybinski and Carmen Benecker, as well as juniors Mara Keomanivane, Makeshia Lucien, Jenna Premo and Autumn Matthews as key leaders and performers for the 2014 season.

“These are kids who have proven they can play valuable minutes for us moving forward,” he said. “Sophomores like Brianne Boldrin, Ashni Deschenes, Eduarda Pavao, Alyssa Sweat and Danielle Hurme also showed signs last season of being contributors.”

Khettry also said that he expects up to seven freshmen to be in the starting lineup, with a number of those rookies playing significant minutes.

And while the Hatters expect to blend a veteran presence with a crop of newcomers, Khettry knows that no matter what, he’ll have a rookie in goal. The 2014 roster boasts three goalkeepers – Karlie Hightower, Ashley Ingolia and Kahri Smith – all of whom are freshmen.

Stetson Women's Soccer