Aug. 20, 2008
The goal for the 2008 Ohio State women’s soccer team is simple: win enough games to be in a position to compete for a Big Ten championship and accumulate enough impressive performances throughout the season to guarantee a spot in the NCAA tournament field.
It will be easier said than done, especially with a team that features 24 freshmen and sophomores on the 29-person roster. But it is a viable goal. In fact, competing for championships and NCAA berths is always the goal at Ohio State. The team accomplished its goal last year, making the program’s fourth appearance in the NCAA championships in the last six years.
Enough key performers from last year return to provide leadership, including seniors Lisa Collison, Caitlin Colfer and Amy Graeff and juniors Ashley Bowyer and Lauren Robertson. They will have all the help they need from a sophomore class that is experienced, talented and has been fast-tracked to take on leadership responsibilities.
EXPERIENCE AT EVERY POSITION
Despite being few in numbers, Head Coach Lori Walker will have a senior or junior working at each line position in front of the veteran and competitive goalkeeper Robertson. Graeff is with the defenders, Bowyer with the midfielders and Collison and Colfer with the forwards.
Additionally, nine sophomores with significant game experience return: defenders Lauren Beachy and Lauren Steuer, midfielders Alex Burzynski, Emily Esbrook, Courtney Jenkins and Shawn Skladany, and forwards Genna Brand, Laura Roberts and Ali Schwach. A 10th sophomore – Cassie Dickerson – has been injured in each of the past two fall seasons but she has played and practiced with the team through two spring camps. She knows what’s going on and what needs to be done in the center of the defense.
Offensively, Ohio State will be led at forward by Collison, who has more career goals than everyone on the team combined – 28 for Collison and 21 for the rest of the team – and who displayed a confidence this spring that Walker has not seen since her freshman year when she tied the school season record with 13 goals.
Colfer is experienced, savvy and she understands Ohio State soccer. She has played in 49 games, started 27 times and her nine career assists lead all current Buckeyes and rank 16th all-time at Ohio State.
Brand and Roberts played in 20 and 17 games, respectively as freshmen and had three goals between them.
Schwach returns after missing the 2007 season (injury). She can score – she tallied twice in 2006 – and create space through hard work and constant motion and movement.
Two highly regarded freshmen – Paige Maxwell and Taylor Moront – will be pushing for playing time right away. Maxwell was an NSCAA/adidas high school and youth All-American in 2007.
The most experienced line for Ohio State heading into the season is at midfield, where five letterwinners from 2007 return and led by Bowyer. The junior midfielder, who has participated two consecutive years at the U-20 National Team training camp, is talented, poised and ready for a breakout season after starting all 42 games the last two years and totaling 12 points off four goals and four assists.
Three sophomores who combined for 26 points in ’07 and a fourth who played in nine games provide Walker and the coaches with depth and skill at the position.
Versatile Burzynski led the team with six goals in 2007 and was second with 14 total points. Jenkins battled through an injury-plagued ’07 to also start 20 games and to play well enough along all three lines to make the Big Ten all-freshman team and the Soccer Buzz East Region all-freshmen team. Esbrook is an attacking, playmaking midfielder who has terrific vision and who has a dangerous final pass. She picked up three assists last season and played in 22 games.
Skladany played in nine games last year and is coming off a spring season where she gained a tremendous amount of confidence by “letting the game come to her,” according to Walker, and by working extremely hard.
True freshmen midfielders are Caitlyn Martin and Brooke Taylor from strong Ohio club programs Ohio Premier and the Internationals, respectively.
The senior defender is Graeff, who is the model player on the team in terms of improvement and working hard to improve. A recipient of the team’s most improved player award, Graeff brings the experience of 35 games and 14 starts to the line.
Steuer, a sophomore but who is in her third year with the program, was voted as the team’s defensive MVP last year. An exceptional 1v1 defender, Steuer is consistent, knows how to prepare for a game and is one of the program’s rising young performers.
Beachy made 13 starts and played in all 23 games last year. She tallied three assists to rank second among the team’s defenders in points.
Dickerson has not seen a regular season match yet due to injury, but the third-year sophomore, who competed with the team this spring, is considered by Walker to be a “huge part of the back line.” Dickerson is a fierce competitor who brings a level of calmness and fun to the field.
Six true freshmen play along the back line: Colleen Brady, Brittany Contacos, Lauren Cusick, Kelsi Landry, Danielle Scoliere and Elizabeth Sullivan. The back line lost three starters, so there is potential for a true frosh to make an impact in 2008.
Junior Robertson is the only goalkeeper on the team with real game experience. She is has started 40 of 42 games and is coming off a terrific sophomore campaign, a year in which she made the Big Ten all-tournament team, recorded seven shutouts and stopped two penalty kicks.
Red-shirt freshman Kristen Touche is an excellent athlete who played well when given the opportunity this spring in scrimmage games.
Lauren Pasquesi is another red-shirt freshman who brings great spirit to the team but who was sidelined by injury for much of her initial campaign. True freshmen goalkeepers include Katie Baumgardner and Kendall Maxwell.