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LIU Women's Soccer Team Opens Season Hoping to Defend Championship Title

By Janet Upadhye | August 20, 2012 7:15am

FORT GREENE — While the Long Island University women’s soccer team opened its season Friday with an 0-2 loss against Seton Hall, the defending Northeast Conference champions are confident they will again be at the top of their league this season.

With 11 returning seniors, the Blackbirds are in a strong position to come out in the top four in order to compete in the conference tournament.

“The girls came into the preseason camp fit and ready to go,” said head coach Tracey Bartholomew. “We are in a good position to go to the NEC tournament because they work hard, they are competitive, and they are driving for another championship.”

Two of the team's top scorers graduated this past year, but with Toni Smith — who ranked second on the team in 2010 in goals — and Evelyn Calderon out in front, Bartholomew has confidence in her lineup.

The close-knit team plays together on and off the field. According to team co-captain Jeanette Dolmetsch, they are like a family.

“We are very close and we support each other not only in soccer, but also with school and relationships,” she said. “That shows on field.”

And although they didn’t beat the Seton Hall Pirates, they played hard. Goalkeeper Jennifer Bannon blocked seven goal attempts, and Smith and Calderon, along with newcomer Shino Kunisawa, took a total of eight shots combined, two of which made it on target but were blocked by the Pirates' goalkeeper.

The Blackbirds will be a team to watch this season as they fight to make LIU women’s soccer history — by winning NEC championships two years in a row.