This year, a whopping 22 freshmen and sophomores are joining Emory women’s soccer team, hoping to build on last season’s success. The Eagles not only qualified for the NCAA Division III championship for the fifth consecutive season, but they finished the year with an 11-2-6 overall record, which marks the seventh time in the last eight years the Eagles have finished with double-digit wins.

The squad has only six returning juniors and seniors, but the team still holds a wealth of experience.

A number of the current sophomores either started or played significant minutes as freshmen last season. Two such sophomores are forward Kaitlyn Dorka, one of last year’s top point scorers, and midfielder Bahar Ulusan, an all-conference honorable mention.

The Eagles will feature 12 new freshmen recruits this year, and Head Coach Sue Patberg believes that they will have a huge impact on the upcoming season.

“We brought the freshmen in to impact the team immediately, and they will compete with each other as well as the upperclassmen to fight for starting positions and playing time,” Patberg said. She added “they are very talented and will bring depth across all positions.”

According to goalie and team captain and senior Liz Arnold, the intense competition between team members makes building their team more important than ever.

“Everyone still looks out for each other,” she said. “We are still a team and a family. It’s very important that throughout the season we grow as a team and as individuals.”

Echoing her team captain, Patberg emphasized team chemistry when talking about the upcoming season, while expressing her belief that the team is good enough to compete for a national title.

“We are a very talented and balanced team and to bring everything together we need team chemistry,” she said. “These girls are young and need play together more. The chemistry will evolve throughout the season as they do.”

“We need more W’s, we tie too many close games and we need to be able to finish off more of those close games to become better,” Arnold added.

While team chemistry and closing out games are important, support from fans is just as significant.

“Stand support is such a huge part of the game. Having people in the stands builds up excitement and helps us play better,” continued Arnold. “We had a ton of people in our stands for our scrimmage and I hope that will continue throughout the season and into the playoffs.”

The Eagles began their season at Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.), this Tuesday, winning 1-0. Senior goalkeeper Liz Arnold held Sewanee scoreless, and junior forward Cristina Ramirez scored the game’s only goal.