The Atlanta Silverbacks Women open 2013 USL W-League play this Sunday against the Carolina Elite Cobras at 2 p.m. at Mesa Soccer Complex in Greenville, S.C.
It’ll be the first game of the season for a new-look Silverbacks Women’s squad that is much younger across the board than in past seasons. Veteran leaders such as midfielder Stacey Balaam and forwards Alexa Newfield and Kristin Burton return, but the rest of the roster is filled with youth.
Youth doesn’t necessarily mean inexperience, however. Four young newcomers are actually members of the U-20 U.S. Women’s National Team – goalkeeper Jane Campbell, midfielders Gabby Seiler and Allison Wetherington, and forward Savannah Jordan.
All four players will be plying their trade at the NCAA Division I level next season, with Jordan heading to the University of Florida, Campbell going to Stanford University, Wetherington choosing the University of Portland, and Seiler staying in-state with the University of Georgia.
The Women will be under new guidance this season too. New head coach Chris Davidovicz will take over for Chris Adams, who will continue with the club as general manager and part-time assistant coach. Campbell Chapman, who is the director of coaching at local youth club GSA, will also serve as one of Davidovicz’s assistant coaches. Davidovicz serves as the head women’s soccer coach at the University of West Georgia.
In total, the Women return seven players from last season’s squad. Besides Balaam, Newfield, and Burton, goalkeeper Connie Organ, defenders Leilani Huntley and Kansas Bayly, and forward Rachel Garcia all return.
In addition to the U.S. youth internationals, the Women will also add veteran defenders Christi Ehrhardt and Nataly Arias. Ehrhardt, a former standout at the University of Northern Illinois, has played for four different W-League clubs, most recently with the Colorado Force. Arias is a full Colombian international, appearing in the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany. Capped 16 times by Colombia, Arias played college soccer at the University of Maryland.
Rounding out the roster thus far is defender Jessica Binkowski and midfielder Allyson Treat, who both played for Davidovicz when he was in charge of the women’s program at Georgia College and State University.
Key losses for the Women include goalkeeper Ashley Baker and forward Elizabeth Guess, who both moved onto the newly formed NWSL this offseason. Midfielder Rebecca Nolin, a veteran of six seasons in Atlanta (five with Silverbacks, one with Beat), also won’t return.
“Although we’ll miss the veterans that have departed, the exciting part about this year’s group is that they’re young and energetic,” said Adams. “There will be lots of learning on the fly, but at the same time, the talent level is extremely high. This is a group that we hope will return year after year and really come together as a unit.”
Following their season opener on Sunday, the Women will return home to host the Charlotte Lady Eagles on Saturday, May 18. The game, which will kick off at 4:30 p.m., will be the front end of a doubleheader with the Silverbacks men’s professional team. To purchase tickets to the Women’s home opener on May 18, click here.