Aug. 25, 2005
Michigan State notched 12 wins during the 2004 season, reaching the double-digit win plateau for the fifth season in a row. The Spartans feasted on non-conference opponents to the tune of a 9-1-0 record. In Big Ten play, however, MSU lost four times by just one goal and finished with just a 3-6-1 conference record. In 2005, MSU will rely heavily on the leadership of a six-member senior class that has produced a 36-22-3 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament during its first three years in East Lansing.
"They were disappointed in their Big Ten finish last year. We certainly have some terrific leaders; their work ethic and more than anything else, the way they play the game, will set a good example for this team." said MSU head coach Tom Saxton.
In total, 18 letterwinners return from last year's team, providing coach Saxton with a wealth of depth and experience. The Spartans will count on that experience to turn the tide in close contests as they try to establish themselves at the top of the Big Ten Conference.
Gone is Lauren Zacharski, who finished fifth in team scoring last season with three goals and six assists. Still, Saxton expects the Michigan State front line to be the most complete unit on the team. Senior Emma Harris returns as the center target for the Spartan attack. Harris is a fantastic passer and enters the season ranked seventh on MSU's all-time assist chart with 17. A four-year starter and a dangerous back-to-pressure player, Harris led the team in goals (5) and points (15) during the 2004 season. Fellow senior Dana Voorheis chipped in four goals and added a pair of assists last season. Voorheis is a versatile forward, able to play either inside or on the wing, with an ability to score the big goal. Junior Jenee Witherspoon and sophomore Breana Ballard will bring plenty of speed to the Michigan State front line. Both players posses the ability to get behind the defense and pressure opposing teams. After going scoreless in 15 games last season, Ballard found the back of the net seven times in two spring matches. Sophomore Heather Riley, who battled injuries last season, senior walk-on Shannon Collar, a three year club player, and speedy freshman Lauren Carter, will also see minutes at forward for the Spartans.
Despite losing three integral parts to last season's midfield in departing seniors Abby Sheppard, Ashley Lawson and Adrienne Treado, who combined for six goals and 11 assists, Michigan State boasts strong depth in the middle. Senior Erin Konheim will drop back to the midfield and team with sophomore Maureen Pawlak. The duo will be counted on to carry the playmaking load from the outside, while at the same time creating offensive opportunities for themselves. Pawlak tied for the team lead in scoring, notching 5-5-15 and playing in all 20 contests, starting seven for the Green and White. Konheim scored five goals and posted four assists to finish third in scoring with 14 points. In the middle, junior Linsey Laskowski and sophomore Lauren Astry will vie for the opportunity to replace Treado. Laskowski is a strong defender who is one of the team's strongest ball winners. Astry is a mature and talented presence who is capable of playing inside or outside. Another strong playmaking presence is available in redshirt sophomore Callie McCarthy. Hard working and strong in the air, McCarthy could see time at either of the outside positions. A deep and talented incoming class will provide depth for the midfield unit. Freshmen Kristi Timar, who may also see time at forward, Kelley Amormino and Michelle Telebar, both capable of sliding back to defense, round out the midfield.
Senior Nina Mastracci and sophomore Erin Doan return to anchor the Spartan back line. Mastracci, a quick and gifted player, whose skills endear her to an outside position, will often attack from the back and is always dangerous serving the ball out of set pieces.Doan started all 20 games during her first season at Michigan State and continued her strong play through the spring. A highly touted recruit just last season, Doan, who battled minor injuries during the 2004-05 campaign, has already assumed a leadership role on the MSU defense. Senior Emily Wiegand can also serve the ball from the left side and brings a wealth of experience to the Michigan State defense as a fifth-year senior. Redshirt junior Ann Hagel provides coach Saxton with a viable option on either side of the defense. Katherine Peters, Kelly Hannon and Taryn Lee will battle for playing time at the centerback position. Peters, a senior, played ten games last season in a back up role for the Spartans. A sophomore, Hannon was recruited as a midfielder but found a home as a defender last spring. Hannon is an imposing physical presence who is capable of dominating 50/50 balls. Also a sophomore, Lee played in five games last season before suffering an ACL tear that ended her freshman season. She is one of the team's fastest and most athletic players. Junior Lauren Gallinger and redshirt freshman Katie Boyd will provide important defensive depth for Michigan State.
Last season, Erin Carlson started all 20 games in her first year as a starter and allowed just 21 goals. Carlson turned an early season question mark into a strength for the 2004 Spartans. This season, six goalies will compete for the opportunity to fill the void left by Carlson's graduation. Redshirt sophomore Nicole Galas returns for her third year with the program. Galas is the only goalie on the Michigan State roster that has played collegiate minutes, picking up nine minutes in one game last season. She has the ability to control field position with a strong leg. Redshirt freshman Julia Rice also practiced with the team last year and played significant minutes during the spring. True freshmen Demi Bruck, Lindsay Wrege, Danielle Petri and Ashley Crandall will also compete for playing time in the Spartan net.