The Troy University soccer team gets the 2012 season underway on Friday with a non-conference matchup against in-state rival Alabama State.
The Trojans, who were picked to finish fifth in the Sun Belt Conference pre-season poll, return a solid group of athletes, including seven starters from a season ago. Seniors Nikki Stamaris and Erin Cersley will look to take control over a young team that includes nine freshmen and seven sophomores.
Four of last years' top-five scorers return, including freshman sensations Chelsey Williams and Alissa Jones. Williams led the team in 2011 with 19 points, on nine goals and one assist, while Jones finished tied for second with 16 points on seven goals and two assists. Stamaris and Maddie Tieken will also be called upon to contribute this season.
A trio of juniors leads the way at midfield, in Samantha Morgan, Kailani Decock and Cecilia Thorngren. Joining them will be Jane Latif, who will be looking to make her Trojan debut in 2012, after missing the last two seasons due to injury.
Troy brings a young, but experienced, collection of defenders this season. Cersley leads the unit that includes sophomores Karina Moore, Georgia Wallis and Paige McMillan.
Nine newcomers will also be vying for playing time on the field this season.
Troy is in unfamiliar territory, looking for a new starter in net. Four-year starter Ashley Branham started 78 games over the past four years. This season, Caitlin Buono, Maddie Winter and Katie Comeno-Lewis will all be battling for minutes.
The Trojans have never lost to the Hornets, winning all six matchups and outscoring ASU 52-1 over that span. Last season, Troy beat Alabama State 5-0 in Montgomery in the season opener. Jones scored twice and added one assist in her Troy debut, while Cersley, Williams and Tieken each scored once. Alabama State mustered just three shots all game, with one reaching Trojan goalkeeper Branham.
In 2009, Troy set a program-record by shutting out Alabama State 15-0.
For more information on Troy Athletics, be sure to visit TroyTrojans.com. Fans can also find Troy on Twitter at @TroyAthletics or on Facebook at Facebook.com/TroyAthletics.
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