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NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. (Titan Athletics) – After finishing its fifth-straight winning season in 2017, the Westminster women’s soccer team returns 24 letter winners for the 2018 season, including First Team All-Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) recipient senior Keely Birsic (North Ridgeville, OH / Elyria Catholic). In the PAC, Birsic finished tied for fifth in points (23), fifth in goals (9), and tied for fourth in assists (4).

“It’s going to be interesting because the first couple of weeks do make a big difference,” said 17th-year Head Coach Girish Thakar. “We have some newcomers that I think will make an immediate impact on our program.”

Among the returning squad is 2017 PAC Honorable Mention honoree junior Kiana Kawarizadeh (New Albany, OH / New Albany). Kawarizadeh started all but one game last season. Also returning are juniors Kayla Trozzi (Monroeville, PA / Gateway) and Kaelyn Puhalla (Youngstown, OH / Austintown-Fitch), who both tied for second on the team with five goals each.

“Leadership makes a big difference in terms of keeping things going in the background,” said Thakar. “The leadership we have in both Keely and [Kawarizadeh] are going to be very important. Expectations are high for them to not only be leaders but perform at the same time.”

Seniors Angela Bowell (Youngstown, OH / Ursuline), Mackenzie Gruber (Hermitage, PA / Hickory), and Emily Irvine (Cheswick, PA / Deer Lakes), juniors Maura Belding (Columbiana, OH / Crestview), Gabrielle Diamond (Moon Township, PA / Moon), Hanna Erdmann (Wesley Chapel, FL / Wiregrass Ranch), Nicole Grzebyk (Irwin, PA / Norwin), and Heather Haley (Canfield, OH / Canfield) and sophomores Josephine Barnhart (Saint Petersburg, FL / Saint Petersburg), Skylar Bryant (Boardman, OH / Boardman), Jocelyn Gillette (Natrona Heights, PA / Highlands), Marissa Grande (Hubbard, OH / Hubbard), Jensen Houston (China, MI / Marine City), Bailey Kurdys (Toledo, OH / Whitmer), Corrine Larson (Grayslake, IL / Grayslake Central), Jordin McGehee (Maryland Heights, MO / Pattonville), Forest Mills (Clarion, PA / Clarion), Regan Moorhouse (New Castle, PA / Neshannock), Natalie Schwarz (Hudson, OH / Hudson), and Marissa Stenglein (Pittsburgh, PA / Baldwin) round out the returning letterwinners.

The Titans add 18 newcomers, including 16 first-years to the 2018 squad. Westminster totaled 53 points to finish fourth in the PAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll.

The Titans start the season at the Defiance College Tournament, on Saturday, September 1 against Wilmington College. Westminster plays its first home game on Saturday, September 8 at 3:30 p.m. against the University of Mount Union, and concludes the regular season at Grove City College on Saturday, October 27 at 3:30 p.m. The PAC Championship tournament starts Wednesday, October 31.

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