Soccer Season Preview: Howard
2016 Record: 13-5-2 (9-0-1 SWAC), Won regular season title, lost in semifinals of SWAC tournament
Key Returners: Kendall Hamilton, Gabrielle Emilien, Kela Gray, Noelle McCullom, Marley Christian, Whitney White, Hollie Cartwright
Key Losses: Sara Vaughan, Carmen Suarez
The Howard University soccer team will look to rebound after a heartbreaking penalty kick loss in the semi finals of the 2017 SWAC Soccer Tournament. The regular season champion Bison fell 2-1 to UAPB to be eliminated.
Head coach Brent Leiba, who enters his ninth season leading the Bison program, will look to a core of veteran leadership to lead the Bison on the field in 2017.
2017 preseason goalkeeper of the year Gabrielle Emilien returns in net for Howard. In 2017, Emilien led the SWAC with a .904 save percentage, allowing just 7 goals against and totaling 66 saves in 20 games played last season. Emilien also recorded 7 shutouts in 2016.
Aiding Emilien on the back end is 2017 preseason defensive player of the year Kendall Hamilton. The sophomore and Raleigh, N.C. native made 20 starts for the Lady Bison last season, racking up 1,870 minutes played in 2016, which led the team.
Hamilton also helped lead Howard, who was tops in the SWAC by allowing a conference fewest 1.05 goals per game in 2016. Howard also led the SWAC in goals against average (GAA) allowing 1.00 goals per contest last season.
Howard, who earned the most preseason All-SWAC selections with seven players, five of which made first team will also welcome back Kela Gray, Marley Christian and Noelle McCullom - all of whom earned first team recognition.
Hollie Cartwright and Whitney White both earned preseason All-SWAC second team honors at midfield, and will look to aid in the Lady Bison defense of its regular season title.
Leiba will rely heavily on his returning core of players, and his stellar defense, to look to improve on last season's heartbreaking defeated in the semifinals of the SWAC soccer tournament.