CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The 2016 season will bring change for the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi women's soccer team, as the Islanders aim to continue their progress in just the fourth year of the program's existence.
WATCH: 2016 SEASON PREVIEW
Head coach Shanna Caldwell's side reached unparalelled heights in 2015, by qualifying for the Southland Conference Tournament for the first time in program history with a record-setting season of five victories.
Entering the 2016 campaign A&M-Corpus Christi's roster will be a dichotomy of old and new. 10 upperclassmen, including seven seniors, will guide 11 newcomers during their first year on the Island.
Between the pipes, the Blue and Green has a trio of capable netminders to take over following the departure of two-year starter Megan Delaney. Jordan Wainwright already has a spring season with the Islanders under her belt. The Live Oak, Fla., native will have the most experience entering the year, after backstopping Monroe College to the NJCAA Final Four in 2015.
A pair of Texas rookies will push Wainwright in training. Kendall Moody had a strong career at Ronald Reagan High School in San Antonio, Texas, powering the team to back-to-back regional championships. Tatum Hightower out of Byron Nelson High School in Roanoke, Texas, brings her 0.40 goals against average to the Island this fall.
The backline boasts the most returning experience on the pitch with five returning players. Mariah Olivé, Meghan Cordero and Brooke Erdmann played substantial minutes in defense during the 2015 season. Olivé and Cordero made a strong pair in central defense, while Erdmann made the transition to fullback after missing the 2014 season with an injury. Her runs up the wings during games created an abundance of scoring opportunities in 2015.
Junior-transfer Andi Bethard and German international Karla Kedenburg will be vying for spots in the back. Bethard recently wrapped up a two-year stint at Cisco College, while Kedenburg arrives on the Island after competing for the Bundesliga side SV Werder Bremen.
In the middle of the park, Kallyn Redona returns from season-ending injuries after receiving a medical redshirt from the NCAA. The Las Vegas native has the most collegiate experience on the roster with 61 games. Redona may also see substantial minutes in the already experienced defense in 2016.
Last year's midfield convert Emma Biba will juggle roles between the backline and further up the field. With 52 appearances, Biba has played the most games in the Blue and Green in program history. After an impressive 2015 season with her second career assist, Hannah Joseph became a mainstay in the starting XI with 10 starts in the final 11 games of the year. Senior Jenna-Kaya Charles and Christina Remmes, the only returning sophomore midfielder, will provide additional depth in the 4-3-3 formation.
Freshmen Ashley Hamilton, Chayse Bauer and Madeleine Lozano aim to add a youthful touch to the center of the pitch this season, while learning from the batch of upperclassmen. Already in the preseason, Lozano and Hamilton featured prominently in the team's tune-up match at Texas.
Finding the back of the net proved to be an issue for the Blue and Green at the start of the 2015 campaign, as the Islanders bagged just six goals in the first 10 games of the year. With a newly replenished strike force, Caldwell's squad will be able to turn possession into goals.
Yvette Franco leads the attack entering her final year at A&M-Corpus Christi. The hometown hero is the all-time leading scorer in program history, despite missing the final nine games of last year with an injury.
The attack will be boosted by the emergence of fellow senior Audrey Kuhl. The Austin, Texas, native picked up a pair of assists in 17 games last year, both of which came during conference play.
Additional firepower up front came to the Island in June in the form of redshirt-sophomore transfer Kaitlyn Joy. The Dripping Springs, Texas, native returns to her home state after spending a pair of seasons with the University of Idaho, including a redshirt year. As a redshirt freshman in 2015, Joy bagged a pair of goals on seven shots. With her pace and ability to hold the ball with her back to goal, Caldwell could use Joy on the flanks or in the middle.
Katie Seabolt will add necessary height up front during her first year on the Island. The Montgomery, Texas native will compliment the speed of Shayla Spearman from Wichita Falls. At 5-feet-2, Spearman will be the fourth shortest player in program history behind Kennah Leal (5'0), Yvette Franco (5'1) and Kristin Kelley (5'1).
• Jordan Wainwright will make history when she plays her first minute wearing the Blue and Green. She will become the first junior goalkeeper to appear in a game in program history.
• Senior Emma Biba has a chance to finish her career with the most caps. Currently sitting in first place with 52 games played, the Missouri City, Texas, native has prominently featured in Caldwell's starting XI, even with her transition to the midfield during the 2015 season.
• Seniors Jenna-Kaya Charles and Hannah Joseph spent part of their summers away from the pitch and giving back to families in need. As a part of a medical mission trip, the pair helped deliver a baby during their time in the Dominican Republic.
• Rookie Chayse Bauer is the only player in Islanders history to have experience representing the United States. The College Station, Texas, native led the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2015 European Maccabi Games with a 2-0 victory over Sweden in Berlin, Germany.
The Islanders open the 2016 campaign on Friday at the UTRGV Invitational against the Vaqueros. The season-opener will serve as the first-ever contest in the South Texas Showdown presented by NavyArmy Community Credit Union.