by Tom Utescher

Mount St. Joseph Academy graduated 13 of the 21 players who started out on the 2011 varsity soccer roster, but the consequences weren’t as serious as that figure implies.

Mount St. Joseph soccer co-captains Lisa Roman (left) and Meghan McCabe. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

The Magic have actually returned six starters from last season, beginning with senior co-captains Meghan McCabe and Lisa Roman. The 2011 campaign actually got off to a rocky start, as new head coach Catherine Kulp saw all of the team’s scrimmages get rained out. A few weeks in, the Mount was well under the .500 mark, but after rebounding in the early stages of the league schedule, the squad wound up finishing second within the Athletic Association of Catholic Academies and posted an overall record of 9-7-1.

The third returning senior starter for the Magic this year is Justine Belinsky, and the fourth senior on the 2012 roster, Amanda Hawthorne, saw a good deal of playing time coming off the bench last fall.

Current junior Mary Grace McIntyre and sophomores Devon Conway and Maryanna Solecki were all starters a year ago.

Coach Kulp says that junior forward Courtney Higginson is showing signs of becoming a prolific scorer, and 11th-grade classmate Colleen Steinmetz will provide a solid presence on defense. Higginson transferred into Mount St. Joe last year from Gwynedd Mercy Academy, and was primarily a JV player during the 2011 season.

Last year’s starting goalie, Becca McCool, has departed with her diploma, but last fall she was out for a spell due to injury, and that gave returning sophomore Meghan Keown a chance to log some time in the net during varsity games. Charlotte Sands, a freshman with good size, is also a candidate for keeper.

Juniors Natalie Bohner, Jenna Cades, and Sarah Lynch, and sophomores Noelle Buchanan and Amanda Steinberg add depth to the MSJ franchise. In addition to Sands, Caitlyn Hagan and M.K. Maloney have made the varsity squad as freshmen.

Defending AACA champion Villa Joseph Marie, the PIAA state runner-up in Class AA, will once again be the primary obstacle for any other school with designs on the league championship. The Mount, a Class AAA program, is looking to boost its power rating for the PIAA District 1 and state tournament seedings, so the Magic have added Delaware County dynamo Strath Haven to the schedule, along with another triple-A team, Plymouth Whitemarsh.