CARROLLTON, Ga. – Just over two weeks remain until the kickoff of the 2019 soccer season, and today uwgsports.com begins the preseason position-by-position previews, and to start we take a look at the defense of the 2019 squad.
Headlining the defense between the posts is junior Jackie Donaldson who returns after a record-setting sophomore season. The Woodstock native set records in single-season saves with 121 and also in save percentage for the year at .858 as well as a single-season record in goals against average at 1.02. Donaldson enters her junior season third all-time in career saves at UWG with 191.
“We are looking for leadership from Jackie between the posts as she is one of our captains this year, but we also expect the same from our seniors and experienced juniors,” said third-year head coach Stacey Balaam.
On the back line, the Wolves return five defenders that saw action a season ago including junior Allison Smithwick who started 18 games at centerback and led all non-goalie players in total minutes with 1,705. Junior Tyler Buford is also one of those experienced defenders Balaam will lean on to lead the defensive unit. Buford played in 12 games last season for a total of 973 minutes. Smithwick and Buford anchored a defense that helped Donaldson and the Wolves to five shutouts in 2018. Seniors Jessica Anthony and Morgan Haase also returns in the defensive third for the Wolves. Haase played in five games in 2018 making four starts while Anthony saw action in four games.
Also among the returners on the back line is Anaya Hunter and Hannah Bogans who saw significant action as true freshmen in 2018. Bogans played the second most minutes of any freshman last season, amassing 1,293 minutes.
Both Hunter and Bogans continue to battle it out along with freshman Adriana Juric for a starting spot at outside back. Juric comes to Carrollton from Brookwood High in Snellville and is one of two freshmen defenders on the team along with Abby McGlamery.
Balaam continued, “We were third in the Gulf South Conference last year in terms of least goals conceded, and we’ve set some team targets for this year to improve ourselves even more in the defensive third.”
West Georgia’s defense will get their first test on September 5 as the Wolves open the 2019 campaign on the road at Young Harris in a 2 p.m. contest. The next position preview will be released on Monday, August 26 as we look at the midfielders of the 2019 UWG soccer squad.