The Saint Joseph's women's soccer team opens its 2019 campaign this week with road contests versus local rivals Drexel and Villanova. The Hawks begin their new season at Drexel at 7 p.m. on Thursday before heading to Villanova for a 1 p.m. contest on Sunday.
Saint Joseph's is coming off a stellar 2018 season in which the Hawks posted their second-most victories in a season (14) and advanced to the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Championship for the third straight year. Now in her 19th season on Hawk Hill, head coach Jess Mannella has high expectations for her program and shared her thoughts on the upcoming season with SJUHawks.com.
What are your expectations for the team this season?
We believe we can win the Atlantic 10 and with that, make the NCAA Tournament. Another goal is to continue being a perennial regional power and one of the top mid-majors in the country. Getting key wins against teams like Princeton and Pitt will help us reach those goals.
What games are you looking forward to in the non-conference slate?
We're going to be tested immediately. We start with Drexel and Villanova, and playing two local rivals is going to feel like conference games right away. Then we face one of the top teams in the country at home versus Princeton, and continue with matches versus James Madison and Stony Brook, who are both expected to finish towards the top of each of their respective conferences.
What is your outlook for Atlantic 10 play?
We're excited to start conference play with road games at Davidson and St. Bonaventure. We're also looking forward to facing Massachusetts and Davidson after not playing either of them last season, and Saint Louis and La Salle will be highly-competitive rivalry games having played both of them closely the past few years.