2012 Season Preview: Loggers Turning To Youth In Search Of 11th Straight Title

For the 10th consecutive year, the Puget Sound women's soccer team reported to fall camp as the defending Northwest Conference champions. This year, the Loggers are once again picked to win the title but the roster will look a little different than the championship teams of the past.

Just one senior will hold a spot on the Loggers roster this season as the Loggers will look to deep junior and sophomore classes for leadership. Just six starters return for the Loggers in 2012 with all five coming from the midfield and back line.

Junior Kara Merfeld will return in goal for the Loggers after breaking through as the All-NWC First Team goalkeeper in 2011. Merfeld was 11-1-3 in goal last year with a 0.32 goals against average and a .907 save percentage. She also led the Loggers to 12 shutouts on the year.

The most experienced group will be the Loggers defenders just in front of Merfeld. Megan Ellis, Lauren Swanson and Lauren Hamilton all return to lead the Loggers back line. Last season, every starter on defense was a first-year starter but that will change this year as they become the experienced group on the field. Despite their youth, the Loggers allowed just 11 goals in 2011 for a 0.53 GAA and figure to be even stronger this year with a year of experience under their belts.

Juniors Hannah Hawkins and Kylie Beeson return to the midfield. Hawkins has started every match since her  arrival on campus in the 2010. She also earned All-NWC Honorable Mention in each of those two seasons. Beeson emerged as a starter last season and also earned All-NWC Honorable Mention in the midfield. She scored five goals for the Loggers, including a pair of game-winners, and tallied three assists.

Three of the Loggers top-5 goal scorers from 2012 graduated last spring, making plenty of room for the next generation of Logger scorers to emerge. Sophomore Robin Vieira showed last season that she could be the Loggers threat of the future with seven goals, most of which came off the bench. She earned Second Team All-NWC honors for her freshman campaign and will look to jump into one of the starting roles this year.

Senior Theresa Henle will also be competing for a starting spot up front after missing last season due to injury. As a junior in 2010, she earned All-NWC First Team honors and led the Loggers in scoring.

The Loggers will open the 2012 regular season with a Sep. 3 Labor Day match against Corban in Baker Stadium. The match will start at noon.