Aug. 26, 2004
Northwestern has a lot of shoes to fill in women's soccer, despite the loss of just three players.
The Wildcats must release a pair of players who between them earned five All-Big Ten awards, Molly Greene (three, including two first-team certificates) and Aileen Guiney (a two-time first-team selection). In addition, NU must find someone to replace Kristen Pearce, who spent her last two years as the team's target player up front and was its third-leading scorer a year ago.
The good news is that head coach Jenny Haigh has plenty of talent to step in and fill the leadership roles.
"Everything is going to be a fresh start for us," she said. "We are looking to rebuild the team culture. We will have new leaders, and that will make this an exciting season."
Several seniors figure to lead the way. Up front, Ashleigh Garmon is among the school's Top 10 in goals scored; she had three goals and an assist last season, and is one of the best athletes in the Big Ten. At the other end, Carolyn Hack has started every match played the last three years and figures to lead the defensive corps.
"We have seven seniors who will fill many roles for us," said Haigh. "They could be a real source of strength for this year's team, so we are hoping they step up and provide leadership on and off the field. Their attitude will set the tone."
Haigh will have several options up front, and is hoping that depth and balance will lead to success: "we are looking for several people to step up and help us score goals. We will push people forward."
Katie Wright - a defender in high school - is NU's leading returning scorer from last year after scoring three goals and two assists. Tabitha Lowey had a pair of goals but was a constant threat both up front and on the wing, while Julie Lipinski's tireless energy allowed her to score four points last season.
In the midfield, look for sophomore Shannon Schneeman to lead the way - she started all but one match as a freshman last year, earning a spot on Big Ten's All-Freshman Team.
The defense returns plenty of players who have experience. In addition to Hack, Katie Gunderson started all 18 matches last season on the right side and Tori Bohannon went from walk-on to a starter in 17 matches on the left side. Another pair of seniors, Lindsey Veris and Kristiina Gilkey, saw limited time last season but have started plenty in their careers.
Finally, the goal figures to be manned by sophomore Whitney Jones after she played every minute in the cage as a freshman in 2003, compiling a 1.68 goals-against average and making 63 saves.
"We are enthusiastic about the experience Whitney had last year and how she has developed," said Haigh. "All those minutes she played last year have paid off. She is athletic, fit, and has the tools to be a premier keeper in the Big Ten. We expect her to take on much more of a leadership role; it is not going to be a stretch for her to be a leader as a young sophomore."
Northwestern also has several freshmen coming in, and Haigh expects them to step right in and help out.
"We feel the freshmen can step right in and help us immediately," said Haigh. "We are anxious for them to do their part."
The newcomer with the best credentials is forward Kelsey Hans, who was the high school player of the year in Minnesota last season and an NSCAA All-America. Her club teammate, Stephanie Krutsch, will also help on the defense. The other freshmen are defenders Danielle Iordanou and Beth Martin, and midfield/forwards Kelly Sitkowski and Caitlin Carr.