Carson-Newman Women's Soccer: Midfielders and Defenders Position Preview

Carson-Newman Women's Soccer: Midfielders and Defenders Position Preview

VIDEO: Simon Duffy Interview

Part One: Forwards Position Preview

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – Part two of a three-part series previewing the second-ranked Carson-Newman women's soccer program focuses on the midfielders and defenders for the upcoming 2018 campaign, positions where the Eagles lost just one player on the back line.

The midfield position returns a group of two juniors and one senior in Lara Hallgrimsdottir (Kopavogur, Iceland), Jaidyn Zapf (St. Bonifacius, Minn.) and Catarina Realista (Libson, Portugal).

The threesome accounted for 33 points last season leading the team to a National Championship appearance with Realista chipping in an assist in the team's lone goal in the title match.

Hallgrimsdottir played in all 23 games last season for Simon Duffy's group leading the midfielders in total points with 15 on five goals and five helpers. Three of her five tallies on the year resulted in game-winning goals tied for second on the team, one of which was a play of the year candidate scoring an Olympico in a 5-2 victory over Lincoln Memorial.

Zapf was one of a handful of Eagles to play in all 23 games last season beginning the year with five points in her first five games with goals against Georgia College and Mars Hill. In Realista's first year with the Eagles, she posted four assists over seven tournament games including the NCAA tourney run. The senior played in 19 of the team's 23 games during her junior campaign.

"Delighted to have them back," Coach Simon Duffy mentioned. "They had a very good spring, just looking forward to get going with them as experienced as they are."

Joining the group is a senior transfer Kennedy Rankin (Dearborn, Mich.) from Alderson Broaddus University who adds some experience in the team's efforts for another deep run in the tournament. Rankin led the Battlers in goals and shots during the 2017 campaign.

Another asset to the team who can play both forward and midfield is new edition Elena Propst (Maiden, N.C.). Elena joins the Eagles after attending her high school years for the Maiden Blue Devils. Propst was a three-sport athlete in basketball, soccer, and track. The North Carolina native scored 91 career goals at MHS with 34 of those tallies coming during her senior season. She led the team in goals her last three years, as well as the conference during her junior and senior campaigns. Propst earned All-Conference honors three straight years from 2016-18 to go with All-Region honors in 2017. She earned the league's Offensive Player of the Year in 2017.

The defense will have to replace an important piece in Helen Seed, however, the team returns three key players to the Eagles success.

Duffy's squad recorded 14 shutouts during the year, a new school record, and held teams to five shots or less 10 different times during the regular season. The team allowed just two goals during regulation through its five NCAA tournament matches which included an astonishing total 12 goals conceded through the teams 23 games.

Averi Williams (Powell, Tenn.) enters her senior year with high expectations after wrapping up the 2017 regular season with multiple awards for the first time in her career. The defender collected her first All-South Atlantic Conference selection after being named a first-team member. She also added second-team All-Southeast Region honors awarded both by D2CCA and the United Soccer Coaches (USC). Williams added another accolade to close out the season with a mention to the NCAA D2 Women's Soccer Championship All-Tournament Team. She tallied one goal and three assists on the season playing in all 23 games and finishing fourth on the team in total minutes with 2,014.

Alex Brandan (Knoxville, Tenn.) joined Williams in 2017 earning her first-career postseason awards after being tabbed second-team All-SAC. The senior also started all 23 games during the year, posting the third-highest minutes played on the team with 2,028. Brandan added seven assists in her junior season, the most in a single season in her career, two of which came during the NCAA Championship run.

Sophomore Madison Huffstetler (Maryville, Tenn.), who also has the ability to play the midfield for the Eagles, grabbed a starting spot in the lineup less than a month into her freshman year playing in 22 games and starting in 15 of them. Huffstetler added two goals from her primary position, one of which came in the team's conference title win over Wingate. Kristina Markfort (Munster, Germany) returns to the team after playing just nine games during her freshman season after it was ended due to an injury. She started in seven of those nine games tallying one assist.

"Defense is probably the position that we have brought the most cover and the most players in," Duffy added. "We have a great balance there now filling a few holes and adding great depth."

Additional players to the back line include a handful of freshman. Sydney Bailey (Knoxville, Tenn.) spent her High School years at Hardin Valley Academy helping lead her team to multiple championships while collecting numerous awards during her time. The Hawks were named 2017 Smoky Mountain Cup Champions, which consists of five regional tournaments. Bailey also helped the Hawks grab a regional championship in 2015, as well as 2014 regional and district champions. The Knoxville, Tenn. native earned 2017 TSSAA Girls Soccer Second-Team All-District 4AAA honors while grabbing the HVA Team Award in all four years.

Emma Daniels (Knoxville, Tenn.) comes to Mossy Creek from Bearden High School as a dual athlete in soccer and swimming. Daniels helped the Bulldogs collect a regular season district title in three consecutive years from 2015-17, with a district championship in her senior season. That same year, Bearden was the regional runner-up as the team made its first state tournament appearance in eight seasons. Daniels collected All-District and All-Region honors following her senior campaign.

Lainee Griffin (Knoxville, Tenn.) comes to C-N from Hardin Valley Academy. Griffin competed in both soccer and track during her time as a Hawk. The Hawks were named 2017 Smoky Mountain Cup Champions, which consists of five regional tournaments. Griffin was named 2016 defender of the year, earning all-district and all-region honors during her sophomore and junior seasons.

Jente Kuper (Ottersberg, Germany) joins the Eagles as a centre back as she arrives in Mossy Creek from overseas. Since 2016, Kuper has played in both the U17 Bundesliga (16-17), the highest junior league, and Regionalliga (17-18) which is the third-highest women's league.