Bearcats Look for Consistency, BIG EAST Tournament Birth

Aug. 23, 2006


     A young and inexperienced Bearcat team struggled through its first BIG EAST schedule in 2005, and in 2006, UC will look to improve on its consistency and make a run in the conference tournament.  With nine seniors, the Bearcats have been through the battles and will have some experience to lean on heading into their second season in the BIG EAST. 

     Head coach Meridy Glenn enters her 24th season with a sense of urgency.  The team has the talent level to compete in the BIG EAST and after a few down years, the tenth-winningest coach in NCAA women's history is looking to lead the Bearcats to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in her tenure and for the first time since 2001.


The Right Ingredients

     With nine seniors and a sophomore class with a year's worth of BIG EAST experience, the Bearcats have the talent and the depth to make a splash in the conference this season.  UC returns nine starters, including five of the top six scorers from 2005.  The addition of a solid recruiting class and a few transfers gives the Bearcats something they haven't had in a while: superior depth.  The team has a hunger to return the Bearcats to the dominance that they savored during their time in Conference USA.  



     The forward position is filled with young, talented scorers who will shape the Bearcat attack for the next several years.

     The top 2005 scorer returns in sophomore All-Ohio selection Jenn Johannigman (6 goals), as does classmate Kristin May (1 goal, 2 assists).  Senior Ana Farmer provides leadership and playmaking ability as a striker and looks to have a major impact in her final season.

Teresa Smolilo will offer tremendous depth at such an active position.

     Newcomer Erin MacDonald has an attacking mindset and will push for time as well.



     All four starters return to the experienced midfield.  Senior captain Becky Imhoff, who has started 54 of 55 career matches, holds down the central midfield spot for UC.  She led the Bearcats and ranked ninth in the BIG EAST with six assists in 2005.  Fellow senior Kate Norton returns after starting in all 18 matches a season ago.

     Sophomores Chelsea Kindschuh and Lindsey Noteboom are back after making 15 and 16 starts, respectively.  They will be pushed by seniors Anna Barrett and Jessica Legge. 

     Newcomers Melissa Bigg, who was named a Top 20 International Recruit by Soccer Buzz Magazine, Stephanie Brindle, Lisa Clark and Heather Neiser round out a deep corps of midfielders.  With the youth movement pushing the veterans, the Bearcats have a solid foundation in the all-important midfield.



     Three-fourths of the defense returns, including All-Ohio selection Kim Sykes.  Junior Gigi Ernst, who has started all but one match in her first two seasons, returns as do senior Ashley Roush and redhsirt junior captain Rachael Epps.  The leadership and communication abilities of the three returnees will be paramount in holding the defense together. 

     Senior Heather Haney provides an offensive option out of the backfield and newcomers Erica Maine and Tricia Gardner will battle for playing time in a veteran lineup.



     With the graduation of Sherry Slye, the Bearcats are young and inexperienced in goal.  Brittney Hansen was with the squad during 2005, but did not see time and earned a redshirt.  She will battle newcomers Andrea Bouldin, Andrea Kaminski and Sherry Lyle for the starting job.

     Bouldin, who played at Eastern Michigan in 2005, returns to her hometown as the lone Bearcat keeper with collegiate game experience.  Kaminski was the conference player of the year as a senior and held a 0.69 career goals against average as well as 44 career shutouts.  Lyle was a three-time team MVP at Westerville North High School and posted a miniscule 0.06 goals against average as a sophomore.


The Final Word

                "I expect these kids to compete," Glenn said.  "I expect a winning attitude from the girls on the field and off.  We improved last year in that we started playing exciting soccer.  The goal now is to win.