For the first time in three years, the Harvard women's soccer team will take the field without All-American Midfielder and 1997 co-captain Emily Stauffer.
Stauffer, who is taking the semester off to spend time with her ailing brother, will watch her Crimson open its season today at 3 p.m. against B.U. as a volunteer assistant coach.
"It's more of a psychological loss," said junior Meredith Bagley. "Emily was a real leader. We always used to look to her to make the big play."
"Emily was definitely a big, big part of our team last year," said junior Naomi Miller. "It's going to be more difficult [without her]. We're going to have to step up."
Sophomore Anne Browning says the team has done just that.
"I think we all jumped into picking up where we left off," Browning said. "People are playing bigger roles to compensate for the loss of Emily up the middle."
Browning predicts that the team will carry the ball through the center less and diversify its plays. In the midfield, junior Devon Bingham and sophomore Julia Blain may distribute the ball off to the wings more frequently.
"Our forwards are still a pretty huge strength," Browning said. "We have some big guns up front. [Organizing] the midfield is harder without Emily."
"It's a big hole to fill, but again, it's more of a mental issue," Bagley said.
Sophomore Jessica Larson will control the defense as sweeper.
"We have an aggressive defense and a lot of talent in the back," Bagley said.
The team must play with confidence when it hosts B.U. today.
"If we play the way we know how, we should do well," Miller said.
The Terriers (3-1) enter today's game, the first ever between Harvard and B.U., after edging Providence, 1-0. Sophomore Annalisa Rodovsky, who leads the team in scoring, tallied the gamewinner unassisted at 36:42. Rodovsky currently has three goals and two assists for eight points.
Sophomore Beth Weisman (.750 save percentage, 1.00 goals-against-average) needed just two saves to make the win. Sophomore Meghan Lynch, who has split time in the net with Weisman, has a .571 save percentage and 1.50 gaa.
"B.U. isn't a bad team," Miller said. "They have a couple of good players, and they're pretty strong in every position."
Freshman Teresa Petruccelli, the sister of Armando Petruccelli '97, generates the B.U. offense as the center midfielder.
"[Teresa] feeds a lot of people and fires some really accurate balls," said junior Jocelyn Ludwick, who is familiar with both Petruccellis' style of play.
Rodovsky assists Petruccelli as the outside midfielder.
"We need to take [Rodovsky and Petruccelli] out," Ludwick said. "The rest of the team is no better than we are."
Harvard's veteran goaltending, strong defense and versatile offense spotlight many of the strengths that guided the Crimson to a 15-2 mark last year.
"We're tactically and technically sound," Miller said. "We work well together. We have speed, skill, and a lot of heart and desire."