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2003 Old Dominion Women's Soccer Preview

Courtesy: ODU Athletics
         
Release: August 13, 2003
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Aug. 13, 2003

The Old Dominion women's soccer program begins the 2003 season with a new hope and higher expectations as they look to find their way back to the top of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The Lady Monarchs welcome back nine of their starters from 2002, including all of their leading scorers. The team finished 5-12-1 last season with seven of those losses coming by just one goal.

"We have almost the entire team back this season which gives us a huge advantage since everyone has already learned their roles and knows our system. We all remember the experiences of last season and that has pushed the team to work even harder and prepare for this year," explained head coach Joe Pereira.

Coach Pereira is back for his ninth season at the helm of the Lady Monarchs. The 1998 CAA Coach of the Year is 68-74-8 at ODU and 212-134-21 in 14 years as a collegiate head coach.

In addition to the 21 returning letterwinners, Pereira signed three additional student-athletes for the 2003 campaign.

"Our squad this year is one of the deepest I have had here at ODU. Everyone will be working hard for playing time and that will benefit the entire program all season," added Pereira.

Forwards

Senior Diane Baucom (Va. Beach, VA) is the leader of a very talented Old Dominion frontline. In 17 games last season Baucom tallied four goals and three assists and is seventh in career points at ODU with 30. Last season's leading scorer Ashley Kramer (Jefferson Hills, PA) and sophomore Laura Beeman (Chalfont, PA) also return to solidify the Lady Monarch offense. Kramer led the way for ODU in her sophomore campaign last season with six goals, playing in all 18 contests. Beeman made an immediate impact as a rookie in 2002, starting 17 contests and tallying three goals and three assists.

Sophomores Meredith Worsley (Durham, NC) and Melissa Sheranko (Hershey, PA) will also look to build off the progress made as freshmen last year to provide depth at the forward spot. Worsley made 12 starts last season and scored three goals and looks to comeback from a broken foot while Sheranko played in all but one contest in her debut campaign.

"We have to improve our ability to finish and put goals on the board. That is the key for this season and our forwards will be responsible to get that done," said Pereira.

Midfielders

All of the ODU midfielders from 2002 return to provide the Lady Monarchs with one of the most talented midfielder core groups in the conference. Leading the way is junior Maura Linz (Prospect, KY) and sophomore Heather Vaughan (Va. Beach, VA). Linz led the squad with eight assists, including an Old Dominion record four against American. Vaughan quickly provided ODU with a physical presence and was the only Lady Monarch to start all 18 games in her first season. She was second on the team in goals scored (5) and points (12).

"Both (Maura) Linz and (Heather) Vaughan will continue to play significant roles as our leaders in the middle. They provide us with valuable experience and have greatly benefited from a year of playing beside each other," added Pereira.

Sophomore Danielle Heusser (Hummelstown, PA) is back for her second year after notching two goals with one assist and playing in all 18 games and making eight starts. Redshirt freshman Heather Jones (Waldorf, MD) will play a significant role this year coming back from last year's injury.

Adding more experience to the squad will be juniors Becca McLain (Va. Beach, VA) and Bea Gugliotti (Avon, CT). McLain stepped up as a sophomore seeing action in every contest last season, making six starts. Gugliotti played in 11 games in 2002 and provided two assists. Seniors Michelle Harrison (Gloucester, VA) and Erica Campbell (Redding, CT) and junior Courtney Rudd (Stephens City, VA) will once again provide much needed depth for the Lady Monarchs.

New to the squad for the 2003 campaign is Tracy Donachie (South Lanarkshire, Scotland), Brittany Ransom (Woodbridge, VA) and Mfikeyi Makayi (Lusaca, Zambia). Donachie is a very experienced player from Scotland who provides a great presence on the ball. Ransom will add an element of speed to the Lady Monarchs allowing them to spread out opposing defenses. Makayi has worked hard to earn a spot and will push for playing time all season.

Defenders

Seniors Shibaughn Stevens (Penfield, NY) and Kasey Johnson (Va. Beach, VA) return to anchor the Old Dominion defense in their final season. Stevens started all 15 games she appeared in last year and has played in 53 total games as a Lady Monarch. She scored her first career goal last season and will be the leader of a very experienced backfield. Johnson is coming off a career year last season in which she posted the first two goals of her career and played in all 18 contests. She also made a career-high 12 starts and added one assist for a career-best five points.

Rising junior Sarah Raible (Louisville, KY) played a crucial role last season making the move to the backline from the midfield and earning team Most Valuable Player honors. Raible was second on the team with four assists and appeared in the starting lineup 17 times. Sophomore Kim Snyder (Va. Beach, VA) also made the move to defender last season. Snyder came to ODU as an award winning forward but by the end of the season she was a starting defender for the Lady Monarchs. While playing up front Snyder scored three goals with one assist playing in 17 games with 16 starts. The speed tandem of Raible and Snyder will cause problems for opposing offenses throughout the 2003 campaign.

Junior Tina DiFerdinando (Boothwyn, PA) and redshirt sophomore Melissa Futrell (Va. Beach, VA) are fully recovered from knee injuries and will provide much needed depth for the backline.

Goalkeepers

Once again the starting goalkeeper spot is up for grabs as juniors Kristen Bailey (Hamilton, VA) and Stephanie Miller (Plymouth Meeting, PA) will battle for time.

Bailey came in last season and earned the starting nod in 15 contests after transferring to ODU. She posted a team-best 1.90 goals against average (GAA) with a 74 percent save percentage. Bailey earned two of ODU's three shutouts as she held James Madison and Radford scoreless.

Miller is in her third season with ODU and played in seven games last year with three starts in goal. She posted career-highs in all major goaltender categories including 23 saves and 373 minutes played.

No matter who earns the starting spot the ODU defense will be working hard to improve on their three shutouts and 1.97 GAA from a season ago.

Schedule and Outlook

Once again another tough and challenging slate of contests await Old Dominion in 2003. The Lady Monarchs spend much of the first month of the season on the road starting with their August season opener at UNC-Greensboro. They continue their travels into September with back-to-back appearances in the N.C. State Tournament and the Arkansas Tournament. At. N.C. State they face national powers Villanova and Tulane before facing Tulsa and host Arkansas the next weekend in Fayetteville.

"Being on the road for the first month will be difficult. We have to get off to a positive start at Greensboro and continue to improve the rest of the way. The tournaments right away will show us what kind of team we have and will prepare us for our conference matches," said Pereira.

ODU opens their home slate against Campbell on September 17th. They follow that with the start of the conference schedule with road games against long time foes James Madison and George Mason. They host non-conference home matchups with Virginia Tech and Radford during their CAA schedule with the Radford contest ending the regular season on November 1st. The CAA Tournament will begin on November 4th.

"The annual conference powers lost a lot of seniors last season so we are excited about our opportunity to step up this season. We have to continually press to once again be a part of the elite group in the conference," said Pereira.

After losing seven games last season by one goal the Old Dominion women's soccer program is focused on turning things around for the 2003 campaign. The nine returning starters will form a better equipped and experienced squad that has worked hard in preparation for a comeback this year.

"We know we were in every match last season. So this year we have to use our experience and talent to turn close decisions into wins. If we can learn our lessons from last year and concentrate on finishing our plays we will be fine," added Pereira.

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