2005 Women's Soccer Preview
July 28, 2005
Fourth-year head coach Mick Lyon is expecting great things from this year's IU women's soccer team as he enters an exciting season. With past years seeing a squad that was bottom heavy with underclassmen and inexperience, this year's team is full of experience in not only Big Ten matches, but international and club contests.
This year's team has four seniors, five juniors, nine sophomores and 10 freshmen. Last year's finish of 9-7-3 (3-5-2 Big Ten) coming with just one senior on the squad has coach Lyon excited about what this season has in store. While half of the squad is still sophomores and freshmen, the sophomore class is made of several starters from last year.
"It is time for the experience our players have in Big Ten matches and international and club play to be put to use," Lyon said. "This team has the ability and it's time to put that into results on the field. We will start this season with a goal to get to the top of the Big Ten."
The Hoosiers will continue to rely on their defensive ability to stop opposing teams. The 2004 team again set a record for the least number of goals allowed by opponents with 18, which ranked second in the Big Ten. Every year Lyon's Hoosiers have set a record in goals allowed since he took the head-coaching job three years ago.
The Hoosier offense will again need a boost from its more experienced players in 2005. Last season, the Hoosiers finished seventh in both shots and points with 274 and 90, respectively, in Big Ten play. IU also finished eighth and seventh in goals (30) and goals per game (1.58), respectively. IU will look towards senior Lauren Fabbro or sophomore Stacey Van Boxmeer between the pipes leading the defensive charge.
The Hoosiers are coming off a solid spring season where the team had a perfect 9-0 record, one of those wins coming against the 2004 Big 12 Champion Kansas Jayhawks. Coach Lyon is looking forward to the play of junior Megan Pipkens and sophomore Kristin Radcliffe who, during the spring season, were able to put together a strong front line.
"Throughout the spring, Kristin and Pipkens definitely worked hard to find each other out on the field," Lyon said. "They gained an understanding of each other and learned to play off each other, which led to a lot of goals and some nice wins over teams. That will be something we will be looking for in the fall."
To join these returners will be freshman standout Molly Kruger, who brings with her a long list of qualifications from club and high school competition.
"Combined with the returners, the attacking play of incoming freshman Molly Kruger will be helpful to their play," Lyon said. "Her contribution of being able to get onto the front line and challenge for goals will complement the plays of also Carrie DeFreece and Lindsay McCarthy. As they all get into the frontline they will help to supply assists and goal opportunities. They will be a big part of what we have put together for our offense this year."
While the load of goal scoring was put on the shoulder of senior Kim Grodek last season, this year's squad will be looked at to bring more of a balanced attack.
"I think, from my point of view we are more like a multi-headed monster," Lyon said. "I think we are going to score goals from lots of different places and different players. I see us as having the ability of beating defenders and goalkeepers in a multitude of ways."
Coach Lyon has put on the shoulders of the midfield players the task of helping to score and create goal-scoring opportunities. With an offense that has struggled in the past couple of years to put the ball in back of the net, the returning play of Ali Brown, Erika Lebedevs, Kate Nierman, Courtney O'Bryan, and Katy Stewart will be relied upon to bring the Hoosiers to the forefront of the Big Ten Conference.
The Hoosiers will be looking to fill the huge whole left by last year's sole senior in Grodek, who carried a lot of the offensive and leadership role for the squad. This year's challenge will be headed up by senior Kristen Zmijewski.
"There's no doubt that when you lose a two-time Big Ten player it will be a hard task to replace her," Lyon said. "But I think that our midfield might actually be better because we have got more players that can play in that spot when you think of Kruger and Zmijewski. We also have Beverly Markwort and Katy Stewart, who can also fill the spot, which makes it an exciting position to be in as a coach."
The Hoosiers will also rely on the speed of their wings to increase their edge over teams. That speed will come from the legs of Molly Beckwith, Carrie DeFreece and Suzie Teixeira. Adding even more depth to the midfield will be Lauren Dieter and Shannon Vnoucek.
"With the amount different players that can compete at every position in the midfield, it will be a challenge to put together the right group," Lyon said. "We are going to have some superb depth and talent in those positions and it will be exciting to see the players compete for playing time. The midfield will be relied upon to create the goal scoring opportunities and are key to this season."
While there is depth in many of IU's different positions, the true competition for a starting spot lies between the pipes. With last year's starter Lauren Fabbro returning from injury during the spring season, the senior will be competing for time against sophomore Stacey Van Boxmeer. Van Boxmeer sat out last season with injury and then competed for the Canadian National U-19 Team. Neither goalie has competed against each other for playing time as Van Boxmeer played during the spring's 9-0 season, while Fabbro led the Hoosiers through the whole 2004 campaign, each guarding the net in the others absence.
"This is the first year we have had four goal keepers, and two of them are coming in with a lot of experience," said Lyon. "Stacey and Lauren will be competing against each other throughout the season, with Megan Reinhardt and Julie Bogusz staying right behind the both of them. It will be exciting to see all of these goal keepers push each other throughout the year."
While the goalie position is up for grabs, the defense returns a more experienced class that has Big Ten experience under thier cleats. Along with the experience of this class, Coach Lyon has changed the defensive setup adding a third defender in the game plan, a setup the team tried and was successful at during its 9-0 spring run.
"The team adjusted well to the new defensive setup during the spring campaign," Lyon said. "As you can see from the 9-0 spring season, the team did a good job of adapting to it. Every year I have been here we have set a record for the fewest amount of goals in season. Our defense has been a backbone for this team and will continue to be this year."
Some key players to look for will be Jenna Babcock, Lauren Lamping and Robin Barker, who have established their defensive roles for the Hoosiers. The IU defense will be set on the shoulders of this sophomore and these two upperclassmen.
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