Young Bearcats Face Challenges In 2005

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GOBEARCATSDOTCOM
Women's Soccer |

Aug. 2, 2005

Expectations The time for rebuilding is done. This year the University of Cincinnati enters the BIG EAST Conference, one of the most competitive leagues in the nation. With a schedule that includes six 2004 NCAA College Cup participants and a league that boasts the defending national champion (Notre Dame), the young Bearcats will need to grow up quickly.

Merdiy Glenn opens her 23rd season as head coach at UC with the goal of returning the Bearcats to the dominance they showed for the majority of her tenure. Glenn has led the Bearcats to six NCAA tournaments and a 235-140-28 record, while coaching five NSCAA All-Americans.

A Young, Deep Team With only four seniors, the Bearcats expect big things from their bevy of talented underclassmen.

Four of last season's top players were lost to graduation, as top scorers Lisa Stephens and Amy Mink, as well as All-C-USA selection Renee Balconi and goalkeeper Tracy Hale, departed. Hale left as the program's all-time leader in goals against average, while Stephens was one of only four Bearcats in school history to start every match of her career. While those former stars will be tough to replace, Glenn expects to get leadership and game experience from her younger players.

Ten underclassmen started five or more matches last season, including junior Becky Imhoff and sophomore Gigi Ernst, who started each of UC's 18 matches in 2004.

Forwards The forward position is one filled with talented youngsters who will be given every chance to contribute this season.

The top two returning goal scorers, sophomores Andrea Haney and Amanda Ryan, will lead a young position. Senior Marie Strelka, who suffered through an injury-plagued 2004, will be looked upon for leadership and scoring punch.

Four newcomers will have the opportunity to contribute immediately. Freshmen Jenn Johannigman, Kristin May and Teresa Smolilo will give the Bearcats a talented pool with which to build.

Midfielders Veterans Becky Imhoff and Lauren Buland return to solidify an experienced Bearcat midfield.

Imhoff, a junior, was an All-Ohio selection in 2004. The team's second-leading scorer in each of her first two seasons, she earned C-USA All-Freshman honors in 2003. Buland, a senior, has played in 53 contests over her first three seasons with UC.

The midfield boasts more experience with the return of juniors Anna Barrett, Jamie Clark, Kate Norton and Ashley Roush. Norton and Roush battled injuries last season, but both are healthy and ready to contribute in 2005. Norton started 19 matches as a freshman, while Barrett and Clark have played in 16 and 34 matches, respectively, during their careers.

Newcomers Meredith Whitehead, Chelsea Kindschuh, and Lindsey Noteboom will be shuffled into the rotation and will have the opportunity to contribute to the team's deepest position.

Defense The backline should be a strength for UC in 2005, despite the loss of All-C-USA performer and three-year starter Renee Balconi.

Junior Jen Leiter, along with sophomores Cara Alldred, Gigi Ernst and Rachael Epps, are the frontrunners for starting positions in the backfield. Each started at least 10 matches last season, with Ernst making all 18 starts as a true freshman.

Jessica Legge played in 18 matches last year, drawing six starts, and will be added into the rotation on defense, as will incoming freshman Kim Sykes.

Goalkeeping Senior Sherry Slye and sophomore Jen Doerflein will handle the goalkeeping duties. After splitting time the last two seasons, Slye will be the main option between the pipes. She led the Bearcats with a 1.45 goals against average and 47 saves in 2004.

Doerflein is a talented second-year keeper who saw action in five matches last season with four starts. She will push Slye for time in goal.

Freshman Brittney Hansen has a winning pedigree. She led Toledo's St. Ursula Academy to the state semifinals as a senior and won a state championship with the Pacesetters Soccer Club.

"This will be a very exciting year for us," Glenn said. "We have a lot of young players that are getting better every day. We have experience at every position to groom the younger players. This will be a great year for the team and for UC as we head into the BIG EAST."

 

 

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