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If the ASU women’s soccer team is going to qualify for a third straight NCAA tournament, they will have to reload and replace their top scorers from last season.

Forward Karin Volpe (28 career goals) and midfielder Alexandra Elston (18 career goals) graduated, leaving ASU with big cleats to fill.

Combined, the pair scored more than half of the team’s goals in 2010.

“They’re both great players,” senior defender Kari Shane said. “At the same time we worked on it in this spring for us to have younger players coming into their positions. I think they’re going to do just fine taking over those positions.”

ASU coach Kevin Boyd said a number of players could step up in the fall with the departures of Volpe and Elston, including sophomore Devin Marshall, and freshman forward Alexandra Doller.

Marshall is ASU’s leading returning goal scorer and made the Pac-10 All-Freshman team, while Doller was a standout at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, scoring 81 goals in her last two seasons.

ASU finished the 2010 campaign 9-8-3 in a tough conference, but lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

Junior midfielder Taylor McCarter said in order to qualify for the NCAA tournament a third straight year, the team just needs to know they belong there, play with “attitude”, and they should be at that level every game.

ASU is a young team once again in 2011 with only three true seniors on a squad of 28 players. Last season ASU had four seniors.

There aren’t one or two leaders on the team—the whole team feeds off each other.

“We’re trying to get all of us to be leaders on our team,” Shane said. “We don’t work that leadership off of class, but at the same time, we are sitting there and they (younger players) do look up to us as leaders.”

While ASU may struggle a bit to score goals, their defense shouldn’t allow too many of them with all the experience the defenders have.

Junior goalie Alyssa Gillmore returns after starting all 20 games in 2010, allowing 1.25 goals a game and posting five shutouts.

Defenders Kaitlyn Pavlovich and Shane started all 20 games for ASU last year. McCarter, who is known for her defensive midfielder role, also started every game for ASU last year.

Despite all the experience on the defensive side of the ball, head coach Boyd said ASU will need some more game experience to gel on the field.

“That takes time; I don’t think that ever happens in scrimmage,” Boyd said. “It’s just not normal unless you return every single starter.

“Going into a scrimmage, you’re about nine days into your preseason. You’re just not ready yet.”

Although the Pac-10 expanded to 12 teams primarily because of football, newly added Colorado and Utah will be on the soccer team’s schedule.

The new additions to the conference did not play as well last year as they had in previous seasons.

“I don’t know, they’ve been at the top of the in game the last year,” Boyd said. “If you look at their program in the last 5-6 years they’ve both been very good.

“Colorado has typically been a playoff team and had been a team contesting for a title within the Big 12. Utah had always in the mix in the Mountain West.”

Five Pac-12 schools are ranked in the preseason Top 25, but the Sun Devils are on the outside looking in. Stanford, UCLA, Oregon State, Washington and USC have cracked the NSCAA coaches’ poll.


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