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Lady Monarchs Open Season With Radford Friday Night

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: August 25, 2005
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Aug. 25, 2005

The Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs open the regular season at home Friday night when they host the Highlanders of Radford University. Game time is 7 p.m. in the ODU Soccer Stadium.

The Series ODU holds a 5-0-1 record against Radford, last beating them, 3-0 in 2002. Radford compiled a 10-6-1 overall record, and finished third in the Big South Conference. The Highlanders return eight starters and 18 letterwinners.

Last Week ODU won the Westfield Cup championship,which is the nation's premier pre- season collegiate soccer tournament. ODU knocked off 19th ranked Florida, 1-0, then beat host Akron, 1-0.

Below is the 2005 Lady Monarch season preview.

Following an improved 9-8-2 season in 2004, this season is looking to keep that upward momentum. Despite graduating six seniors, Head Coach Joe Pereira is positive his Lady Monarchs will still remain to be active competitors in the Colonial Athletic Association this year. The Lady Monarch squad plans on returning six impact players, all of which are seniors that will be looked up to for their leadership. Factor in the experience of the squad with the sharp looking incoming freshmen recruits and ODU appears to be a contender this season. "We have a very deep, very talented freshman group, we are excited for," Pereira says.

The Lady Monarchs will look to stay at the top of their game in 2005, after more than doubling the amount of goals from 14 in 2003 to 32 in 2004. "Being so close and knowing where we stack up with this group of players is exactly what we worked on the entire spring," Pereira says.

Frontline

One senior returns to the frontline this year for the Lady Monarchs as they continue to improve their game. Last season they scored a total of 32 goals in 19 games, more than doubling the amount from the previous year of 14 goals in 17 games. Senior Laura Beeman (Chalfont, PA.) and Sophomore Lisa McKenzie (Inverness, Scotland) will be the top returning forwards. Former 2004 CAA Player of the Week and First Team All-CAA Player Beeman, who led the team in scoring last year with 10 goals, will be supplying tremendous leadership on the team this season. Former CAA Rookie of the Week McKenzie, despite starting in only three games, saw action in all 19 games last season and accounted for five goals and four assists. She will be an up and coming leader to pay attention to throughout the season.

The Lady Monarchs welcome newcomer Katie Watson (Lorton, VA.) to the squad this season. Watson, a transfer from Marshall University where she led the team in goals and assists, is expected to be an immediate help to the frontline. Also contributing to the Lady Monarch front are newcomers Shavon Knight, and Jenna Pearson.

Midfielders

Despite losing 3 midfielders from last year's roster, Coach Pereira has positive outlook on this years' midfield. Returning to the Lady Monarch roster this season Heather Vaughan (Virginia Beach, VA), who has been plagued with injuries throughout her career is returning from spring practice in shape and healthy. "Heather Vaughan who is finally healthy and playing without a brace will be another huge piece of this year's midfield," Pereira says. Look for the midfield to be built around Vaughan this season; Pereira describes her as the "anchor of the midfield." Also returning are juniors Tracy Donachie (South Lanarkshire, Scotland), and Nichole Collins (Manassas, VA). Donachie played in all 19 games last season and will be a very valuable player this year bringing experience to the young midfield. Sophomore Beth Messier (Swansea, MA), will be returning as well to the Lady Monarch's midfield. She had an impressive freshman season last year playing in 14 games and establishing herself as a key impact player for the midfield.

In addition, freshmen Liz Brewster (Clifton, VA), Jenni Purdum (Vienna, VA), and Caroline Brown (Lansdale, PA) will be joining the Lady Monarch squad. "We have three freshman midfielders that we are very excited about and they should be significant pieces of the puzzles right away," Pereira says. "They're all very athletic with big frames that would be able to immediately improve our midfield."

Defenders

Coach Pereira is confident this year's defense will be as solid as last season's. Last year the defense helped the goalkeepers keep a 1.17 Goals Against Average and recorded three shutouts, one shutout came against James Madison University where just one-year prior crushed Old Dominion 5-1.

2004 First Team All-CAA player Kim Snyder (Virginia Beach, VA.) will be returning to the back this season. Snyder started and played in all 19 games last season and has proven to be an excellent utility player spending time last year in the front as a forward and back as a defender. "With her pace she can neutralize just about anything," Pereira says, "with that kind of break away speed she can hang with just about anyone."

Seniors Heather Jones (Waldorf, MD), Melissa Futrell (Virginia Beach, VA), and Danielle Heusser (Hummelstown, PA) will join the group of seniors returning to the Lady Monarchs backfield. Each saw significant time last year with the Lady Monarchs and will be the key experienced players returning to the backfield this season. Last season's Team MVP Futrell started and played in all 19 games last season, while Jones started in 12 of the 19 she played. Heusser recorded one goal and two assists in the 16 games she played in.

Abby Devnew (Virginia Beach, VA) and Stephanie Greene (Richmond, VA) will be returning for their second season, where they will look to make a contribution in 2005. New to the Lady Monarch's defense this season are Marilee Mastaler (Williamsburg, VA), and Laura Woods (Virginia Beach, VA).

Goalkeepers

Although losing both goalkeepers from last season, Pereira feels the freshman goalkeepers Colby Owen (Virginia Beach, VA) and Lauren Tupman(Virginia Beach, VA) will be a strength for ODU. "Sure we won't have the experience," Pereira says, "but we'll still be strong in the goal" Last year the senior goalkeepers kept an impressive 1.17 Goals Against Average, .74 save percentage, and recorded 3 shutouts.

Owen and Tupman will look to add to the Lady Monarch defense as they compete for position throughout the season. "It'll be one heck of a battle for the position," Pereira explains, "They're both very talented players."

Schedule and Season Outlook

The Lady Monarchs will need to overcome a tough early season schedule in 2005. Including two exhibition matches in Ohio against Florida and Akron, ODU will play on the road six times in their first seven games. Once again, the Lady Monarchs will be participating in the UNC-Greensboro/Adidas Classic September 2-4. The schedule eases up from September 16th to October ninth, as the Lady Monarchs will play six home matches compared to only one road match.

ODU opens their regular season at home against Radford, before going on an extended trip to North Carolina and facing Campbell on the road, along with Richmond and UNC-Greensboro at the UNC-Greensboro tournament. The ladies return to Virginia September 10th for an intrastate battle on the road against Liberty, before returning home on the 16th to open CAA conference play as they host William & Mary. The Lady Monarchs will also play host to CAA rivals Delaware, Drexel, Towson, and George Mason this season. Georgia State and Northeastern, the two newest additions to the CAA, will both welcome the Lady Monarchs to their home fields in 2005.

Coach Pereira is very optimistic about his Lady Monarch's chances to be a contender this season. "It's been awhile since I've been this excited about an upcoming season so I am very much looking forward to it," Pereira says. With last year's pursuit for first place in the CAA being separated by two points, Pereira foresees that not much will change for the 2005 season. ODU's improvement from a ninth place finish in 2003, to a sixth place finish in 2004 is expected to continue throughout the 2005 season. "We were right there, we had it in our hands and it slipped away the very last week," Pereira explains. "I think we will be that much more focused, our ultimate goal is to win the conference."

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