CAA Women's Soccer

CAA Women's Soccer Preview: Old Guard, New Faces Mix For 2022 Season

CAA Women's Soccer Preview: Old Guard, New Faces Mix For 2022 Season

The Colonial Athletic Association women's soccer season is on the horizon, and some new schools are joining the party.

Aug 4, 2022 by Briar Napier
CAA Women's Soccer Preview: Old Guard, New Faces Mix For 2022 Season

The Colonial Athletic Association women's soccer season is on the horizon, and some new schools are joining the party.

A talented league that always is eager to make some noise (and get the occasional win or multiple bids) in the NCAA Tournament, the CAA is no slouch when it comes to playing on the pitch, making it make sense that a selection of teams are hopping on board during the next two seasons.

But, with all the new turnover within the conference, it can be a tall task to get caught up with who and what there is to watch for as the season kicks off later this month. That's why this guide exists, so make sure to study before the shin guards are put on and all the balls are inflated.

Here's a peek at the state of CAA women's soccer, team-by-team, for the upcoming season, with all league games streamed live on FloFC:

Hampton Pirates

Record: 1-13-1 (0-9-1 Big South, 11th)

The lowdown: The Big South Conference isn't exactly a women's soccer hotbed, yet the Pirates still struggled mightily in it last year, going winless and scoring just one goal in league play the entire season. 

Perhaps a debut year in the CAA could be the jump start the program greatly needs, but Hampton, barring a miraculous single-season turnaround, likely will be near or at the bottom of its new conference. 

Forward Maya Martir tied for the team lead with two goals (of the nine scored all season), while midfielder Savyon Hammond had the Pirates' performance of the year with a one-goal, four-assist haul in a 5-0 win over South Carolina State.

Beyond those two, though, returning production is slim. Twenty-three members of the 30-woman roster are underclassmen, so at least much of the team will get valuable experience to build on for future seasons. The bad news is that a lot of that game time likely will be as part of losses.

Stony Brook Seawolves

Record: 7-8-2 (4-4-1 America East, seventh)

The lowdown: The Seawolves narrowly missed out on the America East Tournament after finishing one spot below the top six spots that qualify, making for a sour end to their time in the conference. 

They'll hope their start to life in the CAA will be much better. However, Stony Brook will need to find a new source of scoring, and fast, as forward Alyssa Francese, who had seven of the team's 16 total goals and more than double the shot attempts (49) of anyone else on the squad, exhausted her eligibility and didn't return. 

In fact, no returner for the Seawolves scored multiple goals last season, leaving a gaping hole up top for coach Tobias Bischof to attempt to find a replacement. 

There are glimmers of hope on the roster, however, especially in sophomore midfielder Kristina Garcia, who missed the entire 2021 campaign due to injury but suited up to train with the Dominican Republic national team ahead of Women's World Cup qualifiers earlier this year.

Monmouth Hawks

Record: 15-5-1 (8-1-1 MAAC, first)

The lowdown: Of the three new schools playing CAA women's soccer this season, Monmouth unquestionably is the most intriguing one. 

The Hawks stormed to their sixth MAAC Tournament title in program history (and, therefore, its eighth NCAA Tournament berth) last season, capping legendary coach Krissy Turner's 24-year career in style. 

A new league also means a new era on the touchline, as longtime Monmouth assistant Kylee Flynn takes over, following a 10-year run on staff in which the Hawks went a sensational 74-6-6 in conference play. 

Can that translate to the CAA? Only time will tell, but Monmouth will have to find out without the sturdiness at the back of Sarina Jones, who won the MAAC's Defensive Player of the Year last season. 

Still, a trio of All-MAAC Second Team picks (forwards Lauren Karabin and Jesi Rossman and defender Lauren Bruno) are back, and they'll likely make up the core that'll be critical in determining whether or not the Hawks sink or swim in their new home league. 

College of Charleston Cougars

Record: 3-12-3 (2-6-1 CAA, 10th)

The lowdown: Charleston's leaky defense (having allowed a league-high average of 2.22 goals per game last season) was its downfall throughout many games in 2021, resulting in a disappointing last-place finish in the conference. 

Having appeared in the CAA Tournament just four times since joining the league in 2013, it's easy to say there's nowhere to go but up for the Cougars, especially with some new teams in town this year, though C of C has been in a bit of a rut for a couple of campaigns, combining to go 3-20-4 over the 2021 spring and fall seasons. 

However, the future is bright, especially on the attack. 

Forward Delaney Dawes scored five goals in a great freshman year, leading the Cougars' year-end scoring charts and notching a place on the CAA's All-Rookie Team. Midfielder Jenna Snead joined her on that list in her first year after transferring from Rice, with the senior likely pinned Charleston's top patroller in the middle this season. 

Defense, first and foremost, must improve if the Cougars want to get out of the CAA basement.

Delaware Blue Hens

Record: 5-11-2 (2-5-2 CAA, tied-eighth)

The lowdown: The Blue Hens just couldn't get much of anything going a year ago, failing to pick up consecutive wins, while finishing in the bottom half of the CAA in essentially every major statistical category. 

It was a frustrating step backward for sixth-year coach Mike Barroquiero and his side after a 12-7 finish in the last "normal" season (2019) prior to the pandemic. Delaware now will have to find a way to bounce back. 

With UD having the second-most goals conceded (32) and second-least goals scored (14) in the conference in 2021, just about everywhere on the pitch needs some help.

Sophomore midfielder Sydni Wright (one goal, two assists) showed some promise on her way to the CAA All-Rookie Team. 

With the Blue Hens' other All-CAA nods (goalkeeper Lauren Krinsky and midfielder Olivia Schuck) now gone, though, there could be some increased weight on Wright's shoulders. 

Grad transfer Emily McNesby is a potential breakout candidate on the forward line, having appeared in 60 games over four years with Maryland, before making the move to Newark.

Drexel Dragons

Record: 6-8-3 (2-5-2 CAA, tied-eighth)

The lowdown: Coach Ray Goon has seen a lot in his 26 years in charge of the Dragons, but he's almost never seen three of his players make an All-CAA team in the same season, similar to what happened this past year. It was tied for the most Drexel players to appear on the league's postseason lists in program history. 

Though the individual accolades didn't result in a top-half finish, the Dragons are a candidate to be a bit of a breakout team in 2022 with plenty of weapons returning. 

One of those selections, junior forward and All-CAA Third Teamer Delaney Lappin, led the team with five goals a year ago to finish top-10 in the conference as she'll hope to make a leap this year into turning into one of the division's top goal scorers. 

An interesting position battle to monitor into the season may be at goalkeeper, however, after starter Miyuki Schoyen transferred to Wyoming in the offseason, leaving three players left on the Drexel roster to try and compete for the open shot-stopper slot: Molly Piso, Alexis Dooley and Division II transfer Naomi Christ.

William & Mary Tribe

Record: 4-9-3 (2-4-3 CAA, seventh)

The lowdown: The Tribe actually were rock-solid in defense last season, giving up just 21 goals all year and only six to CAA opponents. 

So, why did William & Mary finish far away from the top of the league table? By being completely allergic to putting the ball in the back of the net. 

With only six goals in 16 matches, the Tribe were by far the lowest-scoring team in the conference and had a run of scoring just once in their final eight matches while playing a slow-paced style that often failed to yield maximum points. That being said, the defense is still really, really good and should be able to keep them in most games. 

Shot-stopper Zoe Doughty returns as the reigning CAA Goalkeeper of the Year, putting up hockey-like numbers on the pitch last season (0.38 goals against average, .932 save percentage). It should be a senior year with a lot of hype. 

But, who exactly is going to score, again? The answer might come in the form of Vermont transfer Cricket Basa, who nearly put away as many goals herself (five) as William & Mary did as a team last year on her way to starting 18 games on a NCAA Tournament team.

Towson Tigers

Record: 8-7-3 (3-5-1 CAA, sixth)

The lowdown: Can your favorite college women's soccer team lay claim to a player who already has scored a hat trick for her country? Towson can. 

Forward Nia Christopher proved herself to be one of the most lethal No. 9s in the CAA in 2021 with a 13-goal haul that saw her be named to not just the All-CAA first team, but also the Bermuda national team, where she put three goals past the Cayman Islands in Women's World Cup qualifying. 

Still just a junior, Christopher is a serious threat to win the league's scoring title if she keeps up the pace she's on. Not only that, Christopher appears to be merely one part of a stellar junior class that (including her) sent four players to varying All-CAA teams. 

The list also features midfielder Jasmine Hamid (Second Team), midfielder Phoebe Canoles and goalkeeper Riley Melendez (both Third Team). 

If you're a neutral fan looking for a dark horse team to get behind this season, you could do a lot worse than picking Towson.

Elon Phoenix

Record: 9-6-2 (4-3-2 CAA, fifth)

The lowdown: If James Madison had left the CAA just a year earlier, Elon women's soccer would've been playing some postseason ball in the fall of 2021. 

Alas, the Phoenix were on the outside looking in a year ago, and with the door flung wide open to break into the top four once again following a conference title in spring 2021, coach Neil Payne's unit will try to take advantage. 

However, there's already an obstacle that needs to be cleared: All-CAA first team selection Kayla Hodges transferred to VCU in the offseason after a big year in the Phoenix's back four, putting more pressure on another defensive talent, sophomore Kaite Lowe (a 2020-21 CAA All-Rookie team member), to lead the line. 

The roster is young with only one senior in reigning team assists leader and midfielder Abby Fusca, so even if Elon isn't quite able to return to the upper echelon of the league by season's end, the band will likely largely be back together for another go. But, who's to say the Phoenix aren't raring to break through right now anyway?

Northeastern Huskies

Record: 9-9-1 (5-4 CAA, fourth)

The lowdown: Northeastern didn't set the CAA alight with breakneck pace or tough defending last season, but it also wasn't necessary. In soccer, sometimes consistency is all you need. 

Sure enough, getting the right wins at the right time was a good enough strategy to get the Huskies all the way to the CAA Tournament championship, where they were 90 minutes away from a berth to the NCAA Tournament. 

The goal this year is to finish the job. 

Senior midfielder Alexis Legowski (three goals, four assists in 2021) is one of the best returners in the league at her position, but Duke grad transfer and goalkeeper Holland Stam - a team captain for the Blue Devils when they made a run to the Elite Eight last season - could be the extra bit of veteran leadership the Huskies need to take them over the top. 

Coach Ashley Phillips has made it to at least the CAA Tournament in every year she's been in charge, but only has one NCAA Tournament (in her first season, 2016) to show for it thus far. 

Does that change in 2022?

Hofstra Pride

Record: 17-4-1 (6-2-1 CAA, second)

The lowdown: Even under the quickly-developing legend of Simon Riddiough's tenure as head coach, the fall of 2021 was a special season for Hofstra. 

The Pride made it to their fourth NCAA Tournament in five seasons and notched their most wins in a season (17) since 2010, ranking as high as No. 10 in the United Soccer Coaches Top 25 poll and beating Providence in the NCAA first round for Hofstra's third national postseason victory in four seasons. 

Several schools have put up good fights over the years, but until further notice, the CAA is the Pride's to lose. 

Consistently one of the nation's most potent attacks - Hofstra blitzed opponents to the tune of 51 goals a year ago to be far ahead of the rest of the CAA - though of the Pride's four All-CAA first-team picks from last season, only the defender among them (senior Anja Suttner) is back for 2022. 

Senior forward Ellen Halseth (seven goals in 2021) likely will be tasked with carrying the scoring load following the departure of CAA Attacking Player of the Year Miri Taylor, but considering that Hofstra games often goal fests, someone may break out into a star on the front line.

UNCW Seahawks

Record: 11-4-1 (7-2 CAA, first)

The lowdown: Hofstra may have received the CAA's most recent NCAA Tournament berth, but UNCW got the regular-season title from under the Pride's noses in fall 2021, the Seahawks' first conference championship since joining the conference in 1984. 

The accomplishment earned UNCW alum and coach Chris Neal a well-deserved CAA Coach of the Year Award, but the Seahawks aren't wanting to settle - they want all the gold. 

And, when you have a freshman win the conference's Defender of the Year Award, like German youth international Sophie Trepohl did last season, those goals become a lot easier to attain. However, Trepohl isn't listed on the 2022 roster. 

Additionally, reigning leading goal scorer Audrey Harding was selected by the Washington Spirit in the NWSL Draft and is gone, too, so there will need to be some bloomers out of the cracks if the Seahawks don't want to lose sight of Hofstra and the rest of the CAA elites this season. 

Midfielder/defender Makaya Parham, a two-year starter and All-CAA second-team pick a season prior, may be one of the keys to helping make that happen, as could grad transfer Chloe Mills, a defender who started on one of the nation's best back lines (.345 goals against average) at Northern Kentucky last season as an eventual All-Horizon League selection.