Women's Soccer Review:
Two Straight Region 19 Titles


West Windsor, N.J. - It is hard to talk about Mercer County Community College's 2009 women's soccer season without talking about the 2008 season as well. The two-year run of success is intrinsically linked. Before capturing back-to-back titles the last two seasons under third-year head coach Jodie Ricciardi, the Vikings had not won a Region 19 Tournament title since 2001

Many of the key players who fueled last year's success returned to power this fall's 16-5-1 season. Ricciardi also added a strong freshman class which is expected to keep the Vikings competitive in 2010.

Top row, from left, Assistant Coach Bobby Gioscio, Sheila Frank, Marissa Segal, Kelsey Capuano, Samantha Biondi, Gianna Greco, Carolyn Walters, Jess Villalba, Kasey Kenny, and Coach Jodie Ricciardi; middle row, Stephanie Gaspari, Caitlin Wilson, Alexandra Casperson, Angelica Modica, Brittany Fornaratto, Jacklyn Tellefsen,Carly Blanton and Lauren Sparano; front row, Brittany Usarzewicz, Brianna Byrne and Erika Juricic. Assistant coaches not pictured are Mike DeAngelis, Michele Elmer, and Matt Candor.

"Not only did we have a great season because we won our region again," Ricciardi said, "but we had such great chemistry and so much heart. It was amazing to watch the players improve and get stronger as a team because they worked hard every day at practice and in games." The Vikings advanced to the NJCAA District G tournament, where their season ended against Monroe Community College of Rochester, N.Y. The season included an eight-game winning streak that included six of its 11 shutouts.

Sophomore Kasey Kenny finished her two-year career as one of the more decorated players in program history. The dynamic forward from Staten Island, N.Y., surpassed the 29 goals she tallied in her National Junior College Athletic Association All-American season of 2008 with 31 goals this fall. She added six assists while earning All-Region 19 and All-Garden State Athletic Conference first-team honors.

With 14 goals, Carolyn Walters was an outstanding No. 2 scorer. The team's assist totals, however, accentuated the Vikings' team-first mentality. Walters had nine assists, while fellow sophomores Erika Juricic had 11 assists to go along with nine goals and Brittany Usarzewicz dished off for six assists with three goals. Newcomers Samantha Biondi, Jess Villalba and Sheila Frank also got into the offensive act. Biondi, a key midfielder, had seven assists with three goals, while Villalba had eight goals and four assists and Frank collected seven goals and four assists.

The defense should be a focal point in 2010 after the success of freshmen Marissa Segal and Brianna Byrne this season. Segal made the All-Region 19 and All-GSAC first teams, while Byrne, the iron-woman in goal, made both second teams. Among midfielders, Caitlin Wilson was a freshman standout and made the All-GSAC first team. Sophomore Alexandra Casperson, who had five goals and three assists, rotated between midfield and defense.

"We have a strong freshman class that stepped up this year and worked well with the sophomores," Ricciardi said, "and I know they will be great leaders next year."

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