Aug. 22 – BETHANY, W.Va. - Graduating just three seniors from last year’s roster, the Bison will look to build on the success of their youth as they move into the 2014 campaign. Having won three games in 2013, Bethany was on the cusp of winning many more, competing in nine games that were decided by one goal or less, including five conference contests.
This year, the Bison will be led by a trio of sophomores including Julie Slezak (Latrobe, Pa./Greater Latrobe), Sarah London (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central Regional) and Brittany Fullbright (Wadsworth, Ohio/Wadsworth).
Slezak, who burst on the scene as a freshman forward last season, ranked fifth in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference in points (23) and sixth in goals (10). Playing in all 19 games last year, Slezak became the first Bison freshman since Cassie Spalding in 2008 to register 10 goals.
Fourth-year head coach Pete Parikakis raved about Slezak and is really excited to see her take that next step. “Julie is a special player and we’re looking for her to continue to produce at a high level,” remarked Parikakis. “Her leadership is exceptional and we expect big things from her this season.”
London will look to build off her solid freshman campaign in which she ranked seventh in the conference in goals (7) and second on the Bison squad in points (14). Starting in 17 contests last season at forward, London will be making a transition to midfield, where Coach Parikakis hopes to utilize her playmaking ability.
“Sarah is another athlete we’re counting on to have a big season and play well for us,” said Parikakis. “A team-oriented player, she leads by example and we look forward to her becoming an elite player.”
Fullbright, who made 17 starts last season, will once again be counted on for her impressive passing ability. Ranking first in the league last season in assists (8), the midfielder also was fourth on the squad in points (12) and fifth in goals (2).
“She’s our sparkplug and our engine,” replied Parikakis of his sophomore midfielder. “Brittany is a dynamic athlete and controls our midfield.”
Joining London and Fullbright at midfield will be senior McKenna Junkin (Charles Town, W.Va./Washington) and sophomore Madison Cochran (Grafton, W.Va./Grafton). Last season, Junkin came on strong, scoring a career-best six goals to go along with 13 points. Cochran made five starts collecting five points a season ago.
With London, Fullbright, Junkin and Cochran at midfield, Coach Parikakis is excited about the depth and potential matchup problems these players can create.
“I think that midfield is definitely a strength of our team and we have a lot of players that can play that position for us this season.”
Defensively, the Bison made great strides over the course of last season and will be led by senior Taylor Lewis (Bridgeport, W.Va./Bridgeport), junior Bri Steich (Hagerstown, Md./North Hagerstown) and sophomores Michelle Paugh (Fairmont, W.Va./East Fairmont) and Alexis Dabney (Niles, Ohio/Niles McKinley)
With over 79 career starts between the four, Coach Parikakis is confident about the back line’s experience heading into the season.
“We have a lot of experienced players returning on the back line and they have developed great chemistry together.”
Returning between the pipes will be sophomore Cheyann McQuain (Fairmont, W.Va./East Fairmont), who logged 104 saves in 15 starts. Pushing McQuain for playing time will include incoming freshmen Anna Riddle (Mt. Pleasant, Pa./Mt. Pleasant) and Taylor Sasak (Berea, Ohio/Berea).
“We like the competition right now at goalkeeper,” said Coach Parikakis. “Each player brings a unique skill set to the position and we’re confident in all three goalies.”
Bethany will open the season on Saturday, Aug. 30 when they travel to Mount Aloysius College. After two more road games, the Green & White will play their home opener on Wednesday, Sept. 10 against Marietta College. The first conference battle comes six contests later, as the Bison will travel to Thomas More College on Saturday, Oct. 4 for a showdown with the Saints.
Check out our interview with head coach Pete Parikakis!!!