Buffalo, NY - Climbing the ranks in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) throughout the past few years, the D'Youville women's soccer team is poised to be a power in the conference yet again this season as they look to continue their recent run of postseason success.
Season Preview: D'Youville Women's Soccer
Posted: Aug 24, 2019
With a 5-2-2 conference record put the Spartans near the top of the AMCC last season as they finished the regular season as the third overall team in the conference. After defeating Franciscan in the first round of the playoffs, the women faced off in the AMCC semi-finals where they did not advance against the second seeded Mount Aloysius Mounties.
Head coach Jim Hesch returns for his fourth season in charge of the program and is coming off his first AMCC Coach of the Year award in 2018. He will be joined by returning assistant coaches in former Major League Soccer (MLS) soccer player Rey Martinez, former Division I player Alexis Kroese at Canisius College, and former D'Youville Spartans Kailee Juzdowski and Kiernan Johnson. All four assistants have been on the coaching staff within the last two seasons.
A strong group of upperclasswomen will guide the team with their experience not only in the regular season, but in the playoffs as well. Senior forward Brittany Cristofanelli (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara-Wheatfield) and senior forward Marina Campbell (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Catholic) are the two most experienced Spartans and have been two of the best playmakers for the team throughout their careers.
Cristofanelli led the team in shots, tied for second on the team in goals last season, third in points, and tied for third in assists last season. Campbell, while shifting to more of a defensive role in 2018, scored six goals in 2017 and is one of the most creative players on the team.
The team has two juniors that received all-conference accolades as sophomores last season. Forward Makenna Magee (Ellenburg Center, NY/Northern Adirondack) has been one of the best players in the conference throughout her career with AMCC Second Team All-Conference honors in each of her first two years in college - as well as an AMCC Newcomer of the Year award as a freshman. She led the team in goals (4) and points (8) in 2018.
On the other end of the field, center back Dominique Riforgiato (Fredonia, NY/Fredonia) was named an AMCC Third Team All-Conference selection for the first time last season, cementing herself as one of the best defenders in the AMCC. Dominique has started every single game of her career and was part of a team that allowed one goal or less in eight of nine conference games last season and six goals in conference play overall with six shutouts.
Fellow seniors Kaylee Heschke (Newfane, NY/Newfane) and Jordyn Riedel (Marilla, NY/Iroquois) will play strong defensive presences for the women this season as well either in the midfield, or on the back line. Senior Rachel McMahan (Grand Island, NY/Sacred Heart Academy) will serve in a similar role between the offense and defense as a player who has played valuable minutes throughout her career.
Junior defender Isabella Lucania (Webster, NY/Webster Schroeder) and forward Cassandra Brooks (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island) will play important roles not only as leaders but in their positions on the field as well. Alexandra Samson (Hadley, NY/Hadley-Luzerne) adds depth and experience to the lineup.
As for the youth of the team, they will be led by a pair of high schools teammates in midfielder Maggie Leeds (Lockport, NY/Akron) and goalkeeper Laurie Poeller (Akron, NY/Akron). Leeds was an AMCC Third Team All-Conference selection after starting 14 of 16 games with three points during her freshman season. Poeller saw a great deal of her playing time in the field last season but moves back to goalkeeper where she was a Niagara-Orleans League First Team selection in 2017 and an Honorable Mention player in 2016.
Sophomores Anna Hayes (Hamburg, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy) and Katelyn Eigenbrod (Arcade, NY/Pioneer) played big roles for the team on their quest to the playoffs in 2018 and will do the same in 2019. Hayes was a big contributor on defense with Eigenbrod playing in the midfield. In addition, Lizzie Priest (Fairport, NY/Fairport) returns as a sophomore after plenty of playing experience as a freshman.
As for the newcomers, they will get plenty of chances to crack the starting lineup and carve out roles for themselves. The freshmen consist of Brianna Calmes (Holland, NY/Holland), Gabrielle Czech (Alden, NY/Alden), Francesca Kobee (North Tonawanda, NY/Mt. St. Mary Academy), Talia LoMaglio (Rochester, NY/Hilton), Aussie Mariacher (Elma, NY/Iroquois), Sarah Milczarski (Newfane, NY/Newfane), Jordan Pachla (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island), Montana Tysiac (Hamburg, NY/Frontier) with Olivia Welton (Hamburg, NY/Alfred State) coming in as a transfer from Alfred State.
D'Youville will open the season with their host Spartan Classic on Friday, August 30 as they host Bethany at 5:30pm. The women will then turn around to host Alfred University on Saturday, August 31 at 2:30pm. Their first conference game comes on Saturday, September 21 at Penn State-Altoona with eight total home games.
The team will conclude their conference schedule with their final regular season home game with Alfred State on Tuesday, October 29. Alfred State is the newest member of the AMCC, making for 10 conference games for the women this season and 11 total teams in the conference.