Clarksville, TN – In college sports teams almost always have to replace graduating seniors, but the 2014 Austin Peay soccer team will have extra big shoes to fill this season, as they have to replace the most successful graduating class in the programs history.
Just how big are those shoes they need to fill, the eight seniors won 45 matches over their careers, while earning 11 All-Ohio Valley Conference nods and two OVC championships finals.“Our focus of course is not thinking back to the past but to the future,” Austin Peay coach Kelley Guth said. “Obviously, we respect the past and what the girls that have been here have done for the program and we want the girls that are here now to want to live up to that, to want to accomplish great things on the field and be proud of what they do too.”
“The girls that have graduated last year were a very important part of changing the culture and establishing a tradition of great success while they were here and we want to continue that and add to that. They want to live up to that and that motivates them to want to be that kind of team moving forward.”
Even with the losses of a great group of seniors, the cupboard isn’t bare for the Lady Govs with a couple of All-OVC performers returning in sophomore forward and Gina Fabbro and senior defender/midfielder Shelby Olszewski along with junior keeper Nikki Filippone and seniors Frankie Carbajal (forward/midfielder) and Claire Pultz (forward/midfielder) among others.
“We do have some very good players here, including two all-conference players in Shelby (Olszewski) and Gina (Fabbro),” Guth said. “I thought Nikki (Filippone) was one of the best keepers in the conference last year and Claire (Pultz) and Frankie (Carbajal) being seniors this year and those girls are really leading our team.
“It’s also nice to have Taylor Van Wagner (senior, defender/midfielder) back, who sat out last year and has been a very good defender for us in the past, and now some of our sophomores have really grown and matured over the last year and are being asked to take on a role that they weren’t prepared for last year when they got here.”
One of those sophomores who have really paid off early on is forward Merritt Monger, who scored two goals in the Lady Govs first win of the season – a 5-2 victory over Tennessee Chattanooga on August 24th.
“Those are the moments that we need to have happen at this point with our team,” Guth said. “We’ve going to have a learning curve right now and it’s going to be a process for us, because we do have a lot of players that played limited minutes last year on a very experienced team and now they’re being put into the role of having to be that player, be that go-to player, that play maker, that player that scores the game-winning goal.”
“We’ve got a long way to go and a lot still to do before we open OVC play on September 26th versus Eastern Kentucky University, with high expectations, and it’s going to take an entire team effort to get that success and we have to go out and be prepared to play the best soccer that we can.”