Preseason continues for the womens soccer team as the Hoosiers gear up for their weekend exhibition games held at Armstrong Stadium. The team will face Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Friday at 6 p.m. and Indiana State on Sunday at 2 p.m.
The team has trained hard and is ready to face their competition.
Senior forward Shelly Gruszka, who led the Hoosiers in scoring last season, has a good feeling going into the exhibition games this weekend.
The mixture between the new and the old players is great. The team looks really strong. We are looking forward to playing against some actual teams rather than just with each other, said Gruszka.
With a year of coaching at IU under his belt, head coach Mick Lyon looks to the 2003 season and hopes to build on the strong foundation that he began with the Hoosiers last year. Making an appearance in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 1998, was one of the many goals accomplished in last years journey.
In Lyons second year of coaching, he hopes to accomplish even more. Although the team was denied a bid into the NCAAs, Lyon and the Hoosiers are approaching this season with the same competitive attitude. Lyon has set his standards high again. He is looking forward to picking up where he left off and preparing the team for what could be an exciting season.
We are still going to be very aggressive to achieve the most, and are not going to sit back and be content. I like to be on the edge; to be running all day long, and I want people to be excited about the season. We will be chasing players to have the same kind of attitude, Lyon said.
Not only will he look to his returning players to carry the team, Lyon will also seek the help of his highly-ranked 2003 incoming freshman class.
One of the main focuses of the season will be finding replacements for last years six seniors.
Those seniors played a lot of soccer here at IU, and you cant replace their hard work and dedication over- night. We have to try and create and build on that, said Lyon.
With the loss of key players like Kate Kastl, Kara Bryan and Lisa Tecklenburg, Lyon hopes the team can work together and find the right blend to create a winning atmosphere.
Last year culminated in creating emotion, passion and excitement within the team. I think those things will come through a lot quicker this year, so we can spend a lot of time building strong foundations and traditions within the game of IU soccer, added Lyon.
On the offensive end, Coach Lyon feels the team is still lacking a natural goal scorer.
We have a lot of players that have skill, speed, and create problems for defenses both out-wide and out front. We need one of those players to step up and become the goal scoring queen, Lyon said.
Senior forward, Shelly Gruszka, who led the 2002 team in goals with six and Kristen Zmijewski, a sophomore forward, who finished with four goals and two assists, are likely candidates. Both players will be counted on for offensive production. The Hoosiers will work on finding a go-to person that can maintain the role of getting on the board more often.
Senior Emily Hotz returns to the midfield position for her final season as a Hoosier. A second-team All-Big Ten player in 2001 and 2002, Hotzs experience and solid skills makes her one of the top midfielders in the conference. She will be given goals throughout each game as many players are. We will tell her how many shots we expect her to take, or how many times we want to see her in the opponents box. Hopefully she can reach these numbers each game and get into more goal scoring opportunities, Lyon said.
Finishing the 2002 season with three goals, as well as a spot on the Big Tens All-Tournament team, junior Kim Grodek should also add depth to the midfield position.
Grodek, who played a more defensive role last year, will be asked to get around the opposing box and score more this season, Lyon said.
Defensively the Hoosiers should be rock solid. They not only have strength and speed, but experience and numbers in the backfield. This season several experienced players, such as seniors Carly Everett and Erin Hesselbach, will pose a threat to opposing teams attackers.
Last year there were several games where we put four defenders out there, all with injuries. At any time, one or all four could have gone down and we had one freshman sub to go in. The numbers we have this year will be a big plus for us, Lyon said.
For the first time in several years, two top goalkeepers hold up the goalkeeper position. Senior Shaunna Daugherty returns to goal after starting 17 games last season.
Daugherty is always a voice of authority. As a goalkeeper, her job, along with stopping shots, is to be loud and forceful and motivate from the back. I think that will be good for the team, said Lyon.
Daugherty is joined in the net by freshman Stacy Van Boxmeer who comes to the Hoosiers after playing for the U-19 Canadian National team.
Van Boxmeer brings a lot of talent, experience and spirit to compete. Shaunna too, thrives off competition and is excited to have Stacy and the other goalkeepers on the squad. I think they will all compete very well with and against each other. said Lyon.
Lyons two captains, Hotz and Everett, will be relied on heavily throughout the season on and off the field to provide leadership.
They are both outstanding players and both outstanding women. We will rely on them to bestow a great deal of knowledge and wisdom to our players, Lyon said.
With his superb senior leadership, fresh new talent and mindset for tough competition, Lyon and his solid coaching staff, returning for their second year appear to have a winning combination. These ingredients should put them near the top of the Big Ten conference and give them a chance to go far in the NCAA Tournament.