The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) women’s soccer team began its fall 2023 season on Friday, Aug. 18. Unfortunately, the season started with a 2-0 loss to Harcum College.

Key players returning to the field include midfielder Madelyn Minichino, defender Brooke Portzen, and goalkeeper Ashley Cox. Minichino and Portzen will bring their strong performance from last year, with both having started all 11 games for the Hawks. Cox, a crucial part of CSM’s defense, started all five games in their spring 2021 season and 11 of the 12 games in the fall 2021 season.

CSM’s head coach Richard Landis expressed his confidence in the team’s potential this year. He stated, “This team has the potential to win Region 20 and advance to Nationals. We expect to be competitive in every game this season – including against the nationally-ranked teams on our schedule – and I think we will surprise many teams we play. Based on what I have seen from our captains Brooke [Portzen] and Madelyn [Minichino], my confidence has only increased and raised my expectations for a highly successful season.”

Along with experienced players, the program has introduced “a terrific recruiting class that was highlighted by one of the best high school and travel players in Southern Maryland last year, Megan Hinton,” according to Landis. The coach also provided details about other players and their strategic roles, emphasizing the balanced strength of offense and defense and the hardworking newcomers expected to contribute.

The Hawks’ season will be filled with exciting matches, including hosting two programs ranked in their respective divisions’ preseason polls. CCBC Essex ranked No. 9 in the NJCAA Division II preseason rankings, will play the Hawks on August 22. Monroe College ranked No. 12 in the NJCAA Division I preseason rankings, will close out the Hawks’ regular season on October 20.

Minichino, Portzen, and Cox were essential on the field and excelled academically, being named to various academic teams last year. Minichino posted two goals and three assists last year, and Portzen registered one goal in the 2022 season. Cox made 83 saves over 11 games in the 2021 season, ranking third in Region 20 Division II.

“My main message to the team this season is to build upon what we did last year, making the region finals by doing things right – academics, soccer, and togetherness. We will have a smaller squad this season, but the quality of players and the positive team culture makes me extremely excited to see where these young ladies will go,” Landis added.

With the season on the horizon, CSM’s women’s soccer team is geared for success and eager to replicate and improve upon the level of achievement they accomplished last year when they made it to the program’s first regional championship game in eight years.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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