2004 Cowgirl Soccer Outlook
Aug. 11, 2004
LARAMIE, Wyo. -
The Cowgirl Soccer team has set high goals and plans on building from its success last year and becoming an NCAA Tournament team in 2004.
"The goal now is to go to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history," said UW head coach Anne Moore. "Last year we reached our goal of finishing in the top half of the conference and now we want to win the conference, make some noise in the conference tournament and go to the NCAA's."
In order to reach their goals, the Cowgirls must fill some big shoes off of last season's team which finished with the best record in Wyoming history. The Cowgirl's will greatly miss the presence of seven seniors that saw a lot of playing time last season.
"We lost seven seniors but we still regain a solid core of our team from last year," said Moore. "Losing the great work ethic of those players will be significant but they showed the way to our younger girls and now they are ready to step up and contribute themselves."
A big advantage the Cowgirls will have this year is the ability to build off of a very strong spring season. The Cowgirls finished with a very impressive 7-2-1 spring record. They beat the likes of Air Force, Colorado College, Northern Colorado and Metro State. They also played two Top 20 teams, tieing Cal-Poly 1-1 and losing a close match to San Diego, 2-1.
"We had a very successful spring, we won some games but more importantly we got our younger kids some crucial experience," added Moore. "I think they really accepted the responsibility and understand the direction everyone wants to go."
The 2004 schedule gives the Cowgirls the kind of competition they need to solidify themselves as an NCAA contender. They will open with an NCAA bubble team, Gonzaga, in the friendly confines of the UW Soccer Stadium. They will also face the likes of Louisiana State, Denver and Cal State Fullerton.
The Cowgirls will also have the advantage of closing out their conference schedule with three home games against BYU, Utah and New Mexico in late October.
The Cowgirls return a very tough core of offensive threats from last year's team. First Team All-MWC junior Mercy Adetoye will look to come back from a season ending knee injury to lead the forwards. Seniors Mari Gomes and Darci Ferrell will also play significant roles on the offensive end. Gomes led the Cowgirl offense last season scoring five goals and adding an assist. Ferrell scored three goals and had one assist, all at Jackson State. Sophomore Christine Nagel returns after a very strong freshman season where she led the team in shots with 37 while scoring two goals and notching one assist. Sophomore Natasha Swan and freshmen Tiffany Holly and Leah Ramsey will add depth to the offense.
Coach Moore on the offense:
"Offensively, we have a strong group of returners who all saw a significant amount of playing time last fall," said Moore. "Mari Gomes and Darci Ferrell provide experience, and combined with Mercy Adetoye and Christine Nagel should give us a spark on the offensive end. We also have several players in the midfield with Sarah Skinner, Lindsey Vossbrink, Melissa Bowman and Meghan Racette distributing the ball and creating scoring opportunities."
The Cowgirl midfield will be led by a strong senior class. Seniors Lindsey Vossbrink, Melissa Bowman, Sarah Skinner and Meghan Racette will anchor a very strong midfield. Vossbrink led the team in assists last year with three while Bowman added a pair. Sophomore transfer from LSU, Christina Best, will transition from her usual position of defense to play midfield this season. Sophomore Chelsey Anderson, redshirt freshman Alexiss Stanley and freshman Andrea Soltau will also play vital roles in the midfield.
Coach Moore on the midfield:
"The strength of our senior class is in the midfield," said Moore. "These seniors are all very talented and will lead the middle of our field with their experience and tough work ethics."
The Cowgirl defense will take the field with significant amount of experience and ability. The defense is anchored by captain and First-Team All-MWC selection Kristen Stangl. Stangl scored three goals and had one assist en route to becoming the first Cowgirl to ever be recognized by Soccer Buzz Magazine when she was named to the Central Region All-Freshman Team.
Junior Kara Walters brings two years of experience, athletic ability, speed and toughness to the middle of the defense. Sophomore Kristin Gurrola will return to the outside of the defense after starting in 18 games as a true freshman. Sophomore Carolyn Clarke, junior Celia White, redshirt freshman Rachel Schetrom and freshman Jessica Brown will also see a lot of playing time in the Cowgirl defense.
Coach Moore on the defense:
"Kristen is our most calm and composed play maker in the back," said Moore. "Kara has really worked on her technical ability, has a great ability to chase people down and is now becoming more confident with the ball at her feet. Altogether, we have a lot of experience and some real talent in the back field and I expect them to have a great season."
The Cowgirl net will be guarded by a new face for the first time in three seasons. This individual will be looked upon this season to step up and fill the shoes of First Team All-MWC goalkeeper Lori Scheider.
Sophomore Lauren Hawthorne, who picked up the win in UW's 9-1 trouncing of Jackson State last season, will be the only goalkeeper with any game time experience on this season's squad. Redshirt freshman Kaylin Olivas and freshman Ashley Sheppard will also contribute in the Cowgirl net.
Coach Moore on the goalkeepers:
"With Lori gone it is a battle of who is going to step it up," said Moore. "Ashley is very competitive, extremely athletic and has good size. Lauren is smaller in stature but a bit more technical and a little quicker. I think they are all very capable of becoming the goalkeeper of the future."
The Cowgirls added a vast amount of talent to this years team in six talented individuals. Five freshman and one transfer student will join the team in 2004.
The Cowgirls picked up a very talented sophomore in transfer Christina Best. Best comes to Wyoming after playing last season for Louisiana State. At LSU, she played in all 20 games while starting in 14. As a defender, she scored three goals and had one assist. She was named Defensive MVP following the 2003 Tiger Classic. A Littleton, Colo. native, Best will transition to midfield this fall.
Five freshman will also play vital roles to this season's team. Goalkeeper Ashley Sheppard is a very talented goalkeeper who is big, can cover the goal and can punt the ball past the half circle on the opponent's side of the field. "She is very confident in her abilities and feels she can do the job," said Moore.
Jessica Brown, from Littleton, Colo., is a very solid player who will play a huge roll in the Cowgirl lineup. "She is very talented and had the opportunity to go to a lot of other places but she really had her mind set on coming to Wyoming."
Newcomer Andrea Soltau will play a big role in the Cowgirl midfield as well as on the offensive end. "She has great speed, a great attitude, a great work ethic and can serve a really nice ball," said Moore. "She can also set herself up to score some goals."
Forward Tiffany Holly will remain in her home state to play for the Cowgirls this fall. "To put it simply, she is a burner," said Moore. "She is extremely fast, very strong and a huge competitor. She does not like to lose."
Another Wyoming native, forward Leah Ramsey will also be a very solid player. "She is very technical, has great size and should be a great addition to our team"
Coach Moore on the 2004 Freshmen:
"We are excited about the ability of the incoming freshmen to come in and contribute right away," said Moore. "Ashley Sheppard will come in and battle for the vacant goalkeeper position, and I feel she has the size and athleticism to do that. Jessica Brown and Andrea Soltau add speed and toughness in the back and midfield, while Tiffany Holly and Leah Ramsey will contribute on the offensive end of the field."