Women’s Soccer Team Looks to Repeat as NEAC Champs

Release Date:
September 1, 2003
The Office of Sports Information
(716) 649-7900 ext. 333

The Hilbert College women’s soccer team looks to defend their North Eastern Athletic Conference championship in 2003. The Lady Hawks will face a challenging schedule, facing teams from both the NEAC and the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, where the Hawks will land as a permanent member in 2004. The season will begin on August 30 with a trip to local rival Buffalo State.

The Lady Hawks finished the 2002 season with a 10-6-2 under head coach James Ruggiero. Now in his fifth season, Ruggiero returns nine starters, including two-time all-NEAC selection Jessica Macri (Niagara Falls/Niagara Falls, NY) and the school’s all-time leading scorer, Shannon Bieniek (W. Seneca West/Orchard Park, NY). Macri, a junior midfielder, has ranked second in the nation in assists per game for two consecutive seasons and is a two-time recipient of all-NEAC academic honors. Bieniek, a junior forward, has 27 goals in her short collegiate career.

Coach Ruggiero will depend on his four seniors for additional leadership this season. The seniors are defenders Stacey Wickes (Henninger/Syracuse, NY) and Janelle Maiorana (Immaculata/Derby, NY), forward Nicole DeVantier (Niagara Catholic/Lewiston, NY), and midfielder Sue Bennett (N. Tonawanda/North Tonawanda, NY). Wickes played every minute last season and currently ranks fourth all-time in minutes played. She was also an all-NEAC academic selection along with Bennett last season. Maiorana currently ranks fifth all-time in both games played and minutes played, while DeVantier is currently the third all-time leading scorer in school history.

The three other returning starters are junior forward Michelle Hayes (Wilson/Ransomville, NY), sophomore midfielder Jeanmarie Brady (Lakeshore/Derby, NY), and sophomore defender Karen Kalwicki (JFK/Cheektowaga, NY). Hayes has scored eight goals and seven assists in her career. Last season, Brady scored six goals, while setting a school record for minutes played by a freshman. Kalwicki was named the team’s Most Improved Player in 2002.

Two other letter winners also return for the Lady Hawks this season. Sophomore goalkeeper Samantha Dexter (JFK/Cheektowaga, NY) will step into the starting lineup this season and sophomore Jillian Mertowski (Depew/Depew, NY) will contend for a starting midfielder’s position.

A strong recruiting class rounds out the Lady Hawks’ roster. Sophomore defender Jeanette Testa (Forestville/Forestville, NY), freshman defender Michelle Greco (Southwestern/Jamestown, NY), freshman midfielder Roseanne Gawronski (W. Seneca West/West Seneca, NY), and freshman forward Kristen MacNeil (Immaculata/Lakeview, NY) all expect to push the veterans and make an impact this season. All three freshmen were all-league players as high school seniors in 2002, while Testa was a member of the Lady Hawks volleyball program.

Coach Ruggiero is excited about his team’s chances of defending their conference championship. With the strong core of veterans and the solid group of newcomers, the Lady Hawks look to begin the 2003 season the same way they finished last year.

Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.