Lady Monarchs Open Season Against ECU Friday Night

August 24, 2006
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Aug. 24, 2006

NORFOLK, VA-- The ODU Lady Monarchs open the 2006 regular season Friday night at 8:30 against the Pirates of East Carolina. This will be the second game of a soccer doubleheader as the men play Maryland at 6:30. ODU won 12 games last year and return seven starters from that squad.

The Lady Monarchs are coming off a 12 win season where they finished fifth in the CAA. While ODU lost the leagues' Player of the Year and leading scorer in Laura Beeman, the Lady Monarchs return seven starters and 15 letterwinners from that squad and expect to be in the hunt for CAA laurels.

"We are excited about this season," said Pereira. "We have a very deep and talented squad, and are coming off one of the best seasons ever with the hope the returning group is ready to step into important roles for us. We have another strong recruiting class which should give us the push we need to be very strong and battle for the CAA crown. Last season, six of our 11 starters were newcomers."

FORWARDS The Lady Monarchs lost CAA Player of the Year and All-Scholar performer in Laura Beeman, but will look to returnees Katie Watson ,Lisa McKenzie, Jenna Pearson, Shavon Knight and Brittany Ransom to step up at this position. Newcomers Samantha Breenan and Caroline Plank are also expected to add to the depth. Watson ranked second in the CAA in assists and assists per game while Pearson earned CAA All-Rookie honors. Pearson and Shavon Knight each scored five goals last year and Watson assisted on seven.

MIDFIELDERS This is the Lady Monarchs strongest spot with everyone returning from last year's squad. Fifth year senior Heather Vaughan anchors this spot with Caroline Brown, Tracy Donachie and Beth Messier. Newcomers who should battle for playing time include Jodi Knorowski, Danny Hammer, Brittany Kortz. Vaughan scored five goals and assisted on three others last season.

DEFENDERS This was a major emphasis in the spring as well as the incoming class as ODU lost three of four starters to graduation. Heading this position is fifth year senior and team captain Heather Jones. Elizabeth Brewster and Jenni Purdum saw significant playing time in the spring along with Marilee Mastaler and are expected step into those spots. Newcomers Chika Umejei, Kirsten Walker, Sara Dodo and Christina Ray should battle for playing time and add depth in this area. The Lady Monarchs tallied five shutouts last season.

GOALKEEPERS The Lady Monarchs return two of the CAA's finest young goalkeepers in sophomores Colby Owen and Lauren Tupman. Owen was sixth in the CAA in shutouts with four. "They both got a lot of experience last year and we should be very strong in the net," said Pereira.

SCHEDULE AND OUTLOOK The Lady Monarchs play another solid schedule which includes 11 CAA games and eight non-conference games. ODU will travel west to Northern Colorado and Wyoming. `That trip will provide an early test for us," said Pereira. "It's a long season, and we play 11 games in the CAA which makes it very tough. We faded down the stretch last season, but hopefully we learned from that and know we need to be more consistent."

ODU opens the regular season at home with East Carolina on Aug. 25th. The Lady Monarchs will also host Fairleigh Dickinson, Campbell and Liberty. ODU will then host three of the leagues top four teams in defending tournament champion Hofstra on Oct. 1, regular season champion VCU on Oct. 6 and JMU who beat ODU in the CAA quarterfinals last year on Oct. 8.

This years' CAA Championships will be at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex, Nov. 2-4 with the quarterfinals at the site of the higher seeds.