Aug. 25, 2005
After capturing the 2004 Big Ten tournament title, reaching the "Elite Eight" of the NCAA tournament on their home field and posting an OSU women's soccer all-time best record of 19-4-3, the 2005 Buckeyes return their Top 3 scorers and the core of their attack in Lara Dickenmann, Lisa Grubb and Danielle Dietrich, in addition to a defensive unit that allowed an OSU record-low 18 goals led by All-American Melissa Miller and co-captain Emily Francis. Head Coach Lori Walker, who embarks upon her ninth season at the helm, is prepared to guide this new group of Buckeyes and is focused on the future.
Although the Buckeyes will miss the guidance of a vocal senior class from a year ago, leadership will be a non-issue, as OSU will have an abundance of Buckeyes who will be willing to direct the team on all ends of the field. Dietrich, Grubb and Megan Stickler will comprise the 2005 senior class with Grubb, who became the Buckeyes all-time goals leader with 51 career scores, developing into a more outspoken asset as she assumes the role of co-captain.
Additional key contributors to leadership include Francis, Miller and Dietrich, who is only 1-of-3 players to register 30 points in a season at Ohio State. Walker anticipates that both Francis and Dietrich will add important intangibles to the team, such as being aware of the squad's daily off-the-field lives and providing a lighter and more carefree approach to the game, which can become a vital edge towards the end of the season. Miller, a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) Second-Team All-America recipient is expected to assume a more aggressive and vocal presence after the departure of two-time team MVP Erica Nollen. In addition, sophomore Keiana Mitchell is expected to offer her respective leadership abilities in the backline after starting 12 matches, including seven during the postseason.
The 2005 squad boasts several strengths, ranging from defensive effort to a wealth of proven collegiate goal scorers. In 2004, the Buckeyes limited their opponents to 246 shots and 18 goals, and OSU's stifling defense will be a staple to the squad's success in the upcoming season. Because of the tremendous depth that characterizes the team, Ohio State will look to set the tone in its matches and maintain a free-flowing attack, which became a successful tool for OSU last season. With unparalleled depth, the Buckeyes will have help at each position, locating and developing varying lines on the field.
In the backfield, Ohio State boasts a trio of defenders in Miller, Francis and Mitchell. Miller and Francis, who started all 26 contests and Mitchell, who started 12 games, will look to lower the Buckeyes' record-setting goals against average of 0.67. A deep bench will be crucial in 2005. The tandem of junior goalkeeper Shannon Neely and sophomore Staci Sinkway will rotate much of the 2005 season, as Walker plans to utilize each keeper's respective strengths.
Dickenmann, Dietrich and Grubb will anchor a deep offensive nucleus, where all three have the potential to frustrate defenses. Dickenmann, a Soccer America Most Valuable Player recipient, shattered OSU single-season records in goals (13), assists (12) and points (38) and was named Soccer Buzz Freshman of the Year. Dietrich will be playing more in the midfield, as opposed to playing up top and Grubb, who was named a NSCAA Second-Team All-Great Lakes Region All-American in 2004, will look to remain a consistent force after tallying 12 goals and 10 assists for 34 points in 24 starts last season.
Forwards Heather Young and Carleta Arbulu, along with midfielder Stickler will add an increased presence after making their OSU debuts last season.
The Buckeyes added five prospects to the squad in 2005. Lisa Collison, Caitlin Colfer, Amy Graeff, Courtney Cripps and Christine Lu all join the Buckeyes this season. Collison, a forward from Niagara Falls, Ontario, was a starter for the U-19 Canadian National Team and represented her country in the 2003 Pan American Games. Collison also was the top goal scorer for her Ontario provincial team, leading the squad to three-consecutive national championships.
Colfer, who graduated early from high school to join the Buckeyes in March, will provide added savy and scoring ability. With the early start, Walker predicts Colfer will be a versatile player, who can play any line. A product of Colonie Central High School in Albany, N.Y., Colfer twice was named an NSCAA/adidas High School All-American (2003 and `04). In addition, Colfer led the Yankee United Hurricanes to the Connecticut U-17 state cup championship in 2004 and was a member of the Albertson Express U-18 team, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation and won the state championship for four consecutive years (2002-05). She also was selected to play on the Region 1 ODP and was the representative for Team USA in the 2004 International U-17 Tournament in Castlebar, Ireland.
Additionally, Walker and her staff landed an exciting Ohio product in Graeff defender. A two-time member of the ODP Region II team, Graeff played for Westerville North High School and was a member of the 2002, `03 and `04 district and state teams. Graeff also was the 2004 OCC Player of the Year and earned numerous all-state awards.
The Buckeyes also will use the services of a pair of Georgia student-athletes in Lu, a midfielder, and Cripps, who is a goalkeeper. Lu, a native of Peachtree City, Ga., was a standout member of the Peachtree City Lazers, where she led her team to the 2004 Region III finals. Lu participated with the Region III Pool from 2000-02 and played for the Georgia ODP for three years.
Cripps played goalkeeper for the United Quest team and was a four-year letterwinner at North Cobb High School. Her United Quest team won the 2004 State Cup Championship and was runner-up in 2002. She was named to the Georgia All-State team from 2002-04 and was selected to the regional camp team in 2002 and `03.