Season Preview: High Hopes for Women’s Soccer in 2018
NEWARK, N.J. (August 30, 2018) – The Rutgers University-Newark women's soccer team will open the 2018 season with a pair of games this weekend, visiting Lehman College Friday evening and SUNY Cortland Sunday afternoon. The Scarlet Raiders are coming off an excellent bounce-back season in 2017 where the ladies reached the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Tournament for the third time in four years (2014, 2015, 2017). Despite losing several strong players to graduation, the 2018 version of Rutgers-Newark is deep and talented. "I think our program is deeper than it has ever ever been," said Head Coach Ariana Ruela. "We brought in a strong freshman class, and many of our returners are hungry for an increased role. The depth has created great competition during the preseason, and will also help us remain fresh throughout the year." Leading the Scarlet Raiders will be a trio of captains in senior back Sunna Baig, junior back Iné Collins and junior back Deirdre Mackin. "I love that all three of our captains bring something different to the table," noted Ruela. "They all have different styles, but when combined they provide exactly what you want in leaders and captains." The Goalkeepers: There are three goalkeepers on the Scarlet Raider roster, and all three will be competing for time. Junior Heidi Paulson returns after a solid sophomore season in which she picked up three wins, 29 saves and compiled a 1.50 goals-against average. Paulson is aggressive, experienced and confident. Sophomore Jasmin Erichsen has looked strong in camp after three appearances as a rookie. Athletic, explosive and a goalie with solid ball skills, Erichsen has the tools to be successful at the college level. Newcomer Nina Gonzalez will also figure into the equation. The Cliffside Park native has demonstrated athleticism and a great feel for the position, and with increased experience could be a big-time piece for Rutgers-Newark this year and beyond. The Defense: The Scarlet Raider defense is an experienced group led by the three captains Baig, Collins and Mackin. All three players made at least 19-of-20 starts last year and helped R-N finish with a stingy 1.50 goals-against average as a team. Collins was an all-conference pick, Mackin is an electric player on the outside that can flip the field in an instant and Baig is a rock in the middle. Senior Melissa Chaquea will look to build on a 2017 season in which she made a pair of starts and 13 appearances, while returners Carolina Gonzalez and Flora Micheludis are both looking to make an impact coming off injury. After making nine appearances as a sophomore, junior Heather Kosinski has impressed in preseason and will get a chance early on to solidify her role in the R-N defense. Junior Denisse Astudillo has also demonstrated growth and improvement to warrant a longer look, while freshmen Sabrina Fiordaliso, Jill McCourt and Iria Diaz should see chances to impress on opening weekend after showing well during camp. Sophomore Lucy Pinto and freshman Jennifer Santos will also be competing for time and rounding out the team's impressive depth in back. In the Midfield: Rutgers-Newark is solid in the middle and that group will be led by senior all-conference and all-region performer Juliana Ceballos. Ceballos led the Scarlet Raiders in goals (eight), assists (eight), game-winners (three) and points (24) in 2017, and she hopes to have her best season to date as a senior. Ceballos has appeared in 61 matches in her three years, pouring in 18 goals and 12 assists. Sophomore Ana Silveira was marvelous as a freshman, making 19 starts with three goals and an assist. She has great feel and knowledge for the game, strong vision and skills while also controlling the middle of the field with excellent communication. Freshman Jessica Moreno has looked the part of a key contributor and will see opportunity early for Coach Ruela's Raiders, while fellow rookies Bre Costa and Brianna Rosania also look ready for the college game. Additionally, sophomore Jennifer Coronel Cruz will give the staff another option in the middle after taking the pitch twice during her freshman season. Up Front: The Scarlet Raiders boast a deep and talented group up front. Juniors Samantha Richter and Shayna Bohus combined for 35 appearances in 2017 and both have come ready to go as upperclassmen. Richter totaled 14 points on six goals and two assists as a sophomore, while Bohus returns to the front for her third season with the team. The duo will go a long way in replacing the scoring lost to graduation, as will the presence of junior Mayada Ahmed who has come on strong in her third preseason. Sophomore Melanie Egas will be a contributor up front for Rutgers, taking major strides after 18 appearances as a freshman, and junior Seray Kurtis should also get the chance to provide some offensive firepower. Sophomore transfer Iasia Goeloe and freshman Maria Miranda will round out the Scarlet Raider forwards, and both young women have shown that they have the ability to make an impact this year for Rutgers-Newark. After two road matches this weekend, Rutgers-Newark will play in the Brick City for the first time on September 5 at 7:30 p.m. against Old Westbury. That will kick off a three-game home stand for the Raiders, and they will open conference play in Newark against nationally-ranked The College of New Jersey September 15.