Senior captain Alyssa Dillon believes this year’s Michigan women’s soccer team is special. And she saw it before anyone even kicked a soccer ball.
“Right when we started our fitness testing I knew this team was special,” said the four-year Wolverine fullback from nearby Plymouth. “Everyone was cheering everyone on to pass the fitness tests and pushed each other to do better. It was so special to see on the first day.”
And it didn’t stop there and hasn’t stopped since.
“Right from the start, every practice and every game has been competitive,” she said. “This team is really something special the way everyone supports one another and we can’t wait to get going.”
The Wolverines get going on Friday when they host the Washington Huskies at 7 p.m. at U-M Soccer Stadium.
Washington is coming off a 7-12-1 season but has plenty of talented players back on the roster.
Michigan’s roster features plenty of youth – including 11 freshman – and plenty of experience back off last year’s team that went 10-5-5 and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013.
Coach Greg Ryan begins his 10th season as head coach of the Wolverines and he will have seven consistent starters back from last year along with a recruiting class ranked sixth best in the nation.
Dillon and senior midfielder/forward Ani Sarkisian, an All-Big Ten Second Team selection last year, are the captains.
Junior holding midfielder Jackie White was Michigan’s Most Improved Player in 2016 and returns to help lead the Maize and Blue midfield alongside junior standout Abby Kastroll (5 goals, 4 assists last year).
Sophomore Jada Davne, who started every game last year as a freshman, and senior Rubina Veerakone, who started 12 games last year, return to bring experience to a talented back line.
Seniors Sarah Jackson and Megan Hinz bring experience and talent to the goalie position. Hillary Beall, the top ranked keeper in the Class of 2017, is one of several standout freshman on the roster.
The Wolverines will face nine 2016 NCAA Tournament teams in 2017 and play nine regular-season home matches at U-M Soccer Stadium. The Wolverines were fourth best in attendance last year in the Big Ten.
The Wolverines will begin Big Ten play at home on Thursday, Sept. 14, against Purdue. UM went 6-2-3 last year, including wins in its first five games in the conference.