Aug. 26, 2000
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's soccer team heads into its 2000 season
opener versus Detroit as the nation's No. 4-ranked team, according to the
recently-released preseason poll by Soccer America magazine.
Notre Dame-which faces Detroit on Sunday at Alumni Field (1:00
p.m.)-returns six of 11 starters from its team that advanced to the 1999
NCAA title game and posted a 21-4-1 overall record. The Irish hold the
fourth spot in the 2000 SA poll, behind '99 NCAA champion North Carolina,
Penn State and Santa Clara.
The rest of SA's preseason top 10 includes fifth-ranked Nebraska,
Florida, Stanford, Connecticut, Clemson and Hartford. Notre Dame's KeyBank
Classic (Sept. 8, 10) ranks as the nation's premier regular-season women's
soccer tournament and is the only Division I tournament in the 2000 season
that features four teams from SA's preseason top 20: Notre Dame, Santa
Clara, Stanford and Connecticut.
Notre Dame returned on Aug. 21 from a 10-day tour of Brazil, with
the trip including five games versus local professional clubs. The tour
provided the Irish with a chance to evaluate different options as they
pertain to replacing five starters lost to graduation.
"The trip was of tremendous value in terms of evaluating new
players and seeing how they fit into the team," said second-year Irish head
coach randy Waldrum. "We still are concerned after replacing the kind of
players-particularly goalscorers-that we lost to graduation. Somebody, or a
group of players, needs to step up and pick up the slack in that area. This
was a great year to do the tour and it eases our minds a little bit heading
into the season. Having three games before the big KeyBank Classic games
versus Santa Clara and Stanford also is helpful because that will allow us
time to answer some of the personnel questions we have and help the new
players ease into college soccer."
One of the primary questions marks heading into the 2000 opener
lies in replacing four-time All-American Jen Grubb, who anchored the Irish
from 1996-99 at central defender. The team's primary options include
inserting senior Kerri Bakker into that spot (she has appeared in 38 career
games, with three starts) or shifting sophomore Vanessa Pruzinsky-the '99
BIG EAST rookie of the year-over from the flank, with versatile senior
Monica Gonzales then potentially moving from forward to the defense.
"We are going to experiment with both options," said Waldrum.
"Kerri is more used to playing centrally in the back and in more
comfortable reading the game from that position and adjusting defensively
in that part of the field. On the other hand, Vanessa is one of the
quickest players and best all-around athletics on the team-in terms of
strength, power and physical play. We will look at both options and make
the decision that is best for the team, as it impacts that position and
others on the field."
Senior captain Kelly Lindsey returns at the other central defender
spot while junior Lindsey Jones is the likely starter at the outside spot
vacated by graduate Kara Brown.
The Irish return plenty of experience in the midfield, led by
three-time All-American and leading national player-of-the year candidate
Anne Makinen. Top candidates on the outside include junior Mia Sarkesian
and sophomores Ashley Dryer and Nancy Mikacenic while promising freshman
Randi Scheller should be in the mix as well.
Notre Dame will play during the 2000 season without the services of
freshman Melissa Tancredi, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament
during the summer (she was being considered as a candidate in the back).
One of Notre Dame's primary tasks will be replacing the firepower
lost in graduates Jenny Heft (80 career goals, 20 in '99) and Jenny
Streiffer (70, 19 in '99)-with Makinen (51, 13 in '99) and senior Meotis
Erikson (46, 14 in '99) among the top candidates to boost their
"Meotis is capable of a big season and we've talked to Anne about
being more selfish with her play, because she is a very dangerous and
unique goalscorer due to the combination of her finesse play, powerful shot
and sense of where she is on the field," said Waldrum of Makinen, who found
the net 23 times as a freshman in '97. "Anne has done a great job setting
up other players during her career but now it's time for her to be more of
a go-to scorer."
The "triple-A combination"-sophomore Ali Lovelace and freshmen
Amanda Guertin and Amy Warner-join Erikson, and potentially Gonzales, as
the other top candidates up front. "The combination of Ali, Amy and Amanda
up front gives our offense a new dimension due to their speed," said
Waldrum. " The key thing is that they develop into more consistent
finishers. One thing that often was overlooked about Jenny Heft was that
she simply found ways to score goals and we need our young speedsters to
cash in their ability by consistently putting goals on the board."
Three-year starter and Notre Dame career goals-against average
leader (0.63) LaKeysia Beene has moved on to the coaching ranks as a
current Irish graduate assistant, leaving the goalkeeping position open to
three capable players. Junior Liz Wagner is the likely opening-day starter
while sophomore Sani Post is day-to-day as she returns from a stress
fracture in her leg. Freshman Lauren Kent showed surprising development
during the Brazil trip and could see some game time in the earlygoing.
SOCCER AMERICA PRESEASON WOMEN'S TOP 20
|Team|| (1999 record)|
|1. North Carolina|| (24-2-0)|
|2. Penn State ||(21-3-1)|
|3. Santa Clara ||(23-1-0)|
|4. Notre Dame ||(21-4-1)|
|5. Nebraska ||(22-1-2)|
|6. Florida ||(21-2-0)|
|7. Stanford ||(15-5-1)|
|8. Connecticut ||(17-8-0)|
|9. Clemson ||(14-7-2)|
|10. Hartford ||(18-5-2)|
|11. UCLA ||(15-5-1)|
|12. Wake Forest ||(16-6-1)|
|13. Texas A&M ||(17-5-1)|
|14. William & Mary ||(19-4-0)|
|15. SMU ||(17-6-1)|
|16. Kentucky ||(16-3-2)|
|17. USC ||(14-6-0)|
|18. Virginia|| (13-9-0)|
|19. BYU ||(21-4-0)|
|20. Harvard ||(14-2-1)|