LAKELAND, Fla.- The No. 3 Southeastern University women’s soccer team is set to commence the 2019 season.
The Fire are looking to follow up another dynamic season on the pitch, as SEU turned in a 20-2-2 2018 campaign, earned The Sun Conference Regular Season Co-Championship, and set new single-season program records for goals scored (116), assists (106), wins (20), and shutouts (16).
Additionally, the Fire advanced to the NAIA National Semifinals, the farthest advancement in program history. SEU bowed out of the tournament to William Carey 4-2.
The Fire take the pitch this season without some key faces from last year’s squad. Senior Megan Penhaligon does not return after competing in 76 matches for SEU as a four-year player. The outside back was All-Sun Conference Honorable Mention last year.
Lynsey Kelly is another member of last season’s squad who graduated. A two-year starter in the midfield for SEU, Kelly was Second Team All-TSC in 2018.
Gabriella Didio rounds out the group of key losses for Southeastern. In her lone season with the program as a graduate transfer, Didio netted 11 goals, recorded a single-season program record 20 assists, and was named All-TSC Honorable Mention.
Southeastern returns a trio of NAIA First Team All-Americans in senior Uchenna Kanu, graduate player Isamar Duran, and junior Aisha Solorzano.
Kanu returns for her senior year after one of the most historic seasons in collegiate soccer history. The Abia, Nigeria native scored an NAIA single-season record 57 goals and recorded 18 assists as well.
Additionally, Kanu was named the TSC Player of the year, the United Soccer Coaches NAIA Player of the Year, and represented her home country Nigeria in all four of their matches in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.
Duran returns at center back for SEU. Duran anchored an SEU back line which opened up the national tournament with a 260-minute opponent scoreless streak. The Homestead native led the defensive unit to a total of 16 shutouts on the season.
Solorzano totaled 12 goals and 16 assists throughout the duration of the 2018 season. The Guatemala City native also scored a goal and registered two assists during the national tournament.
The Fire also return sophomore Holly Eddins in goal. Eddins was Second Team All-TSC in 2018 after posting a .943 save percentage versus TSC opponents. Eddins also was a two-time TSC Defensive Player of the Week last season.
“One of the many things I love about our team is their passion to be challenged,” shared head coach Randy Belli, who enters his fourth season at the helm of the program. “We put together an incredibly tough schedule this year and our players are looking forward to being tested and continuing to get better”.
There a total of 10 newcomers on the 2019 roster.
One of the top newcomers is freshman midfielder Rachel Boyd. The Orlando native was the back-to-back Athlete of the Year in 2018-19 at The Master’s Academy.
Another top incoming freshman is midfielder Chloe Martin. The Lakeland native continues her playing career in her hometown after being named First Team All-State at Gateway High School and leading her team to an undefeated regular season and District Championship her senior season.
The Fire open up the 2019 regular season on the road with an NAIA Top-5 showdown, as SEU faces No. 5 Benedictine tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m.
“The program has progressed every year and this group has the potential to take us to new heights,” added Coach Belli.
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