WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University women's soccer team has cracked the national rankings for the first time since the 2004 season. In the most recent National College Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/HendrickCars.com Division III poll, the Judges are ranked second in New England and 18th in the nation.
In head coach Denise Dallamora's 31st season at the helm, the Judges are off to a 6-1-1 start, their best since winning their first eight games and 10 of their first 11 in 2004, when they were 25th in the country. Their ranking of 18th is their highest since reaching No. 13 in 2003.
On offense, Brandeis is paced by senior forwards Sofia Vallone of Westport, Conn., and Tiffany Pacheco of Rehoboth, Mass. The Judges rank second in the University Athletic Association (UAA) by averaging three goals per game thanks to Vallone, who is tied for the Association lead with eight goals, and Pacheco, who is tied for third with four assists. The duo rank second and third in the UAA in points with 18 and 14, respectively. Junior forward Mimi Theodore of Walpole, Mass., give the Judges a potent third scoring threat with four goal and three assists for 11 points, tied for seventh in the conference.
The Judges also boast a stingy defense that has allowed just five goals in their first eight contests this season, tied for fewest in the UAA. The back line is led by senior Taryn Martiniello of Wilmington, Mass., and junior Fran Shin of Bayside, N.Y., both two-time All-UAA honorable mention selection, plus juniors Ali Maresca of Wyckoff, N.J., and Ali Theodore of Walpole, Mass. – twin sister of forward Mimi. The quartet has been stout in front of relative newcomers in net, sophomore Francine Kofinas of Dix Hills, N.Y., and Leah Sax of Sudbury, Mass. Brandeis has not allowed more than one goal per game this season in front of the duo, while Kofinas's two goals allowed in 450 minutes gives her a UAA-leading 0.40 goals-against average.
Brandeis is next in action at Wellesley College on Wednesday, September 29, at 4 p.m. as they prepare for their UAA opener on Saturday, Oct. 2 at home against Case Western Reserve University at 11 a.m. The Judges are one of two UAA schools ranked in the top 25, with Emory University sitting at No. 14, while the University of Chicago is among those receiving votes this week. The Eagles come to Waltham on October 17, while Brandeis heads to the Windy City on October 31.