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Soccer: McDaniel women headed into season with national ranking

From the moment she arrived on campus in 2012, McDaniel women's soccer coach Sandy Lagana has stuck to her philosophies in trying to resurrect the program.

The 2000 South Carroll High School graduate and two-sport athlete at Bridgewater College wanted to establish a singular goal for the Green Terror to achieve, then wait for the results. And a funny thing happened — McDaniel started winning.


Lagana's "keep it simple" mindset helped turn the Terror into contenders. Talented players did their part, and McDaniel piled up victories. None more than last season, when the Green Terror went 18-3-1 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

"Keep it as simple as, play our best every day," Lagana said. "I think we do recognize that there's probably is bit of a target on our back, so we're aren't playing the underdog role. Now there's more of an expectation to win. The results will come if you do that, and that's essentially what we've been doing for the past five years."


McDaniel heads into a new season as reigning regular-season Centennial Conference champions (8-0-1 record) after setting a program record for wins in a season. The Terror have played in two NCAA tourneys and made three Centennial tournament appearances under Lagana, who is 63-28-10 in her five years as coach. Nine more wins and she'll become the all-time wins leader at McDaniel.

Not that those numbers mean too much to her, but Lagana's squad also enters the 2017 campaign with national accolades — McDaniel is ranked 16th in the United Soccer Coaches preseason top 25 poll.

"To be ranked so high … it's not like we ignore it, it's an honor," Lagana said. "I think we're really proud of ourselves for that because we worked really hard to get there. We worked really hard to be noticed. … It didn't just happen overnight. It was a process, and we really do deserve this. But at the same time, [we] stay motivated to hopefully cross the next threshold this season."

Lagana pointed to the Terror's core of five seniors as team leaders.

Katie Kirschenmann, a forward, returns after leading McDaniel with 25 points last fall (11 goals, three assists). Midfielder Abby Keen is another senior and she had five goals and three assists in 2016. Kristen Upton, a defender, had four goals, while Paola Rosa added an assist as a reserve forward.

Then there's goalkeeper Sarah McDonald, who posted nine shutouts a year ago and joins Upton as McDaniel's returning first-team all-Centennial players. McDonald, who went 16-3-1 and crafted an 84.3 save percentage in 2016, added All-America honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

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It's all part of a winning atmosphere, said Lagana, the two-time reigning Centennial Coach of the Year.

"In terms of the recruiting, I think success does breed success," the coach said. "We've got a different caliber of recruits looking at us every year. We always believe the better that our freshmen are, the better that we can be. … We try not to put too much on one player, because if we do that it makes it really hard to be successful."


McDaniel's season begins next weekend in Salisbury, where the Green Terror compete in the Salisbury University Classic. To get ready, the Terror traveled to Messiah on Wednesday for a scrimmage — Messiah played in the NCAA finals last year, and is ranked second in the USC preseason poll.

The Green Terror open Sept. 1 with William Smith, ranked No. 4 in the same poll.

"We've made the schedule harder every year," Lagana said. "We decided to go to Salisbury for a tournament, and William Smith was there. And we said … ' We want to play them.' Our junior class, they haven't lost many games. … the junior class doesn't know what losing means, and we hopefully use their leadership to make sure it kind of stays that way."