Another summer break is in the books, which means that Emory soccer teams are gearing up for another season.

The No.2-ranked women’s team will open its season on the road this weekend with matches on Sunday, Sept. 1 against No.16-ranked Wheaton College (Mass.), and Monday against University of Massachusetts – Boston.

The men’s team is set to play today at the Emory-hosted Sonny Carter Invitational. The Eagles’ opening match will be at 1 p.m. against Marian College (Wis.) at the Woodruff P.E. Center (WoodPEC).

The women’s team is coming off a 2012 campaign, where it fell in the NCAA Division III national championship match. The Eagles enter this season with a preseason rank of number two in the country.

“Finishing as well as we did last year puts a big target on our backs because other teams want to beat us,” senior midfielder Kelly Costopoulos said. “However, the most pressure we feel is the pressure we put on ourselves to reach our goals and make it further than we did last season.”

The Eagles return 20 players from last year’s NCAA runner-up team, nine of which started during the Eagles’ 2012 NCAA tournament run.

Two major losses for the Eagles will be the loss of goalkeepers Erica Stein and Kaele Leonard. Stein and Leonard split time at goalkeeper last season and were a big part of the team’s eighth-ranked goals-against average of 0.416.

“Kaele and Erica were awesome goalkeepers, but we are a strong team with more great goalkeepers who are ready pick up right where Kaele and Erica left off,” Costopoulos said. “We have full confidence that our defense will be successful again this season.”

The Eagles’ most decorated returning player is senior defender Lauren Gorodetsky. During the season, the University Athletic Association (UAA) compiled a list of the top 25 UAA players of all time in its UAA 25-Year Anniversary Team. Gorodetsky was the only active UAA player on the list. 

Based on her success in the tournament, Gorodetsky received the most Outstanding Defensive Player of the NCAA Championships award from

The accolades kept coming for Gorodetsky in the postseason. named her the Defender of the Year at the close of the season. 

The junior was also named to the and National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) All-America First Teams.

It did not stop there for Gorodetsky. She was also named the UAA co-MVP, an honor she shared with Anna Zambricki of Washington University in St. Louis. 

This is her second consecutive season winning the award. Gorodetsky was also named to the UAA first team.

In addition to the Eagles’ returning talent, Emory have six new freshman this season.

“We are excited about this year’s strong freshman class,” Costopoulos said. “They add more versatility and strength to our team and have already made an impact on the field.”

Meanwhile, the men’s soccer team is set to host the Sonny Carter Invitational this weekend. The tournament is hosted in honor of Emory soccer alumnus Sonny Carter (College ’69), who went on to play professional soccer before becoming both a doctor and an astronaut.

The Sonny Carter Scholarship is awarded each year by the university to an undergraduate Emory student who plans to attend an Emory graduate or professional school.

The men’s soccer team is coming off a season in which the team fell in the second round of the NCAA tournament against Messiah College (Penn.). 

The Eagles finished the season 11-7-2 (4-2-1) and tied in first in the UAA.

–By Nathaniel Ludewig

Photo by Ariel Chambers