Look Back at the 2004 Season
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - With a roster full of underclassman (11 sophomores, eight freshman), the Indiana women's soccer team endured an up and down season finishing with a 9-7-3 mark, including a 3-5-2 tally in the Big Ten as well as its third straight conference tournament appearance.
"It was definitely another year of growth," said head coach Mick Lyon. "A winning record, a third straight appearance in the Big Ten Tournament as well as being a bubble team for the NCAA tournament; we have accomplished a lot and we are continuing our improvement as a program."
IU started out the season with two victories en route to winning the 2004 Milwaukee Cup. Senior Kim Grodek led the Hoosiers with five goals and an assist in the two matches, including her first collegiate hat trick in the season opening 4-0 win over Marquette. For her efforts Grodek was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Aug. 30, and was selected to the Soccer Buzz Elite and Soccer America's Team of the Week. Grodek was also featured in 50th Anniversary edition of Sports Illustrated in the "Faces in the Crowd" section released on Sept. 24.
The Hoosiers would go on to win four the their next five matches, upsetting then No. 18/24 Auburn 1-0 in the process. The winning streak also saw IU start out 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference, including a dramatic 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Minnesota at home. Redshirt freshman Jenna Babcock became just the second person in school history (Lisa Tecklenburg vs. Purdue 1999) to record her first collegiate goal as an overtime game-winner in the contest.
"We had a lot of early season success, but we did not maintain it," said Lyon. "The players and the coaches were expecting more after the start of the season, but we played some good teams real close and when I look back on it, we took another step forward and in the right direction."
IU would battle some of the top teams in the country on the road throughout the rest of the season falling just short at-then No. 5/10 Penn State and at home to then No. 24 Michigan 1-0, while tallying a pair of road ties at-then No. 29 Ohio State and No. 24 Illinois 1-1.
Junior goalkeeper Lauren Fabbro kept the Hoosiers in the game against the Nittany Lions and the Buckeyes recording nine and eight saves, respectively, against both teams on the road in back-to-back contests. Sophomore Megan Pipkens tied the Ohio State match with a goal at 82:43, while Grodek notched a score with just 15 seconds left in the game at Illinois.
Fabbro ended the year as just the second goalkeeper in IU history to play every minute of action. The junior posted 76 saves, a .91 goals against average, third best single season mark in school history, and six shutouts, fourth best in school history. She was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 27 after her performances against Ohio State and Penn State.
"Fabbro has done nothing but improve her game since she came here," said Lyon. "We emphasized to her some aspects of her game that she needed to hang and work on and to her credit she did. She came in this summer with an opportunity to win the starting goalkeeper job and she took it and never turned her back on it."
The youth of the team responded as the season went along. Pipkens ended the year with a team-high seven assists, just one away from a school record as well as placing third in the Big Ten, and second on the team with 15 points. The Holt, Mich. product tied a school record with three assists in IU's 3-0 win over Oakland on Sept. 30. The three helpers tied the mark previously set by Wendy Dillinger in 1993 in a contest against Detroit.
"Pipkens has improved tremendously since her freshman year," said Lyon. "When she came here she was a defender and played really half of her freshman year as a defender, and now she has turned herself into a scorer and someone who is a real threat with the ball."
Sophomore defenders Lauren Lamping and Missy Vierling were mainstays in the back for IU all season long. Both players led a school defense that statistically was the best Indiana has ever seen. IU allowed just 18 goals on the year and 57 points, breaking both school marks for least goals and points allowed.
Lamping was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 20 and tabbed a Soccer Buzz Elite Team performer after she led a Hoosier defense that allowed just one goal and six shots in two conference victories over Minnesota and Iowa. Vierling was named to the Milwaukee Cup All-Tournament Team despite not recording a point in the tournament, as well as selected to the Soccer Buzz Elite Team of the Week on Sept. 15 for her defensive efforts in the upset victory over Auburn, holding top Tiger scorer Christy Culver to just one shot in the contest.
"When you look back, we only had one player (Lamping) returning to our defense from last season when we allowed just 20 goals," said Lyon. "Missy played up front as a freshman so we came into this year with just one player who played any significant minutes in the back. To get the production that we got out of our defenders was just amazing, and Lamping and Missy were two big reasons why we were not able to miss a beat on defense."
Classmates Carrie DeFreece and Ali Brown also contributed to the team's success with well-balanced play on the offensive and defensive ends. Brown notched three assists on the season and played a tough defensive midfield, while DeFreece's efforts were best shown in the Big Ten Tournament match with Penn State. The forward's feisty and aggressive play led IU against the top-seeded Nittany Lions as the Hoosiers held them scoreless through the first 62 minutes of play, before falling in a well-fought 2-0 loss.
"I think the biggest thing you can say about the sophomore class was that they began to understand their roles," said Lyon. "DeFreece and Brown are two players who always practice and prepare hard and as the year went along, they really began to understand what exactly their roles were."
Six different freshmen recorded at least one point, while three notched goals on the year. Offensively, Lindsay McCarthy led the newcomers with five goals, three assists and 13 points, ranking her second on the team in goals and third in points. The Absegami, N.J., native netted her first career hat trick in Indiana's 3-0 win over Oakland on Sept. 30. She became the first freshman in school history to record a hat trick. Her six points also set a school record for a freshman.
"I think Lindsay started the year off with a bang and then got into a normal freshman lull," said Lyon. "Then in the middle of the year she really picked up her play and was a legitimate scorer for us."
Freshman defender Beverly Markwort recorded just one point on the year, but it was her defense that stood out the most. Often told to shadow the competitions best player, Markwort was honored for defensive prowess by the Big Ten coaches as she was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team at the end of the season.
"Bev was outstanding for us all season long," said Lyon. "She had a few nagging injuries all year long and it caused her to miss a few games, but she played great and really solidified the back of our defense."
Kristen Radcliffe and Suzy Teixeira also enjoyed a large amount of playing time on the year. Radcliffe played in all 19 games with a freshman-high 16 starts, and finished with four goals and nine points on the season, third and fourth, respectively, on the team. Teixeira was the product of hard luck all year long as she saw two of her 14 shots hit off the post as well as six others saved by the goalkeeper. Nonetheless she showcased a tough and gritty attitude all season and will be an asset to the team for years to come.
"Kristen was a player that was feeling her way back from a torn ACL that occurred as a senior in high school and at the end of the year she was finally starting to excel like we thought she would," said Lyon. "Teixeira was always a threat with the ball, and I think we missed her as much as anyone when it came down to the conference tournament against Penn State."
Grodek, a two-time first team All-Big Ten performer, was the lone senior on the IU squad. One of the team captains, the midfielder was a four-year starter for the Hoosiers and will leave Bloomington with 74 games played and 69 career starts, both fifth most in Indiana history. The Barrington, Ill. native is IU's career leader in Big Ten goals with 12 and second with 25 conference points, and overall stands in fourth place in school history with 26 goals and 58 points.
"It is going to be hard to replace her both on and off the field," said Lyon. "But someone will have to step up just like when Emily Holtz, or Erin Hesselback left and that is what being a top program is all about."
The 2004 squad achieved many of its goals as coach Lyon looks to build the program and gain its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1998. With 23 of 24 letterwinners expecting to return next season, the 2004 campaign no doubt served as a stepping-stone for future success.
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