Aug. 26, 2004
The Boilermakers enter 2004 with a new look and a host of fresh faces. Graduation Day removed six of last year's full-time starters including, forwards Annette Kent and Courtney Coppedge, midfielders Jennie Moppert and Kelly Haxton and defenders Jenny Kinkead and Mary Masck.
Regardless of the notable absentees, the few returning upperclassmen are expected to improve on what they accomplished in 2003. Last season's team was led by veterans on both halves of the field, providing the Boilermakers with a high-scoring offense and an impenetrable defense. The team finished with a 14-6-3 record as it advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
For the same successes to occur in 2004, head coach Rob Klatte is not only counting on his veteran starters to improve, but he's also expecting last year's reserves to challenge for playing time. He is also hoping that a handful of this year's freshmen will contribute immediately.
"This year is reminding me of the 1999 and 2000 seasons, in that we have a core of good players we can build around," said Klatte, who is in his 12th season as a head coach. "We also have a number of good players coming in as well, but you just don't know how quickly they are going to gel and how quickly they are going to adjust to their roles. I think we will receive great leadership from everyone, but in the same vein, our returning players are going to be challenged by the newcomers, who are more than prepared to come in and compete."
"Lauren has to understand that she will not be receiving much pressure from the coaching staff to score goals; she has always put the pressure on herself," said Klatte. "I want her to remember to be patient and play within herself."
Klatte said the team will miss the physical games of Kent and Coppedge, but believes his Boilermakers are going to be just as dangerous up front, since the attack roster is more than capable of scoring from a variety of different areas. He is also excited about some of the incoming freshmen (Parissa Eyorokon, Shauna Stapleton) and says their unique technical abilities will be a positive addition.
Heading into the regular season, regulars Jayme-Lee Biamonte and Kim Comisar will handle the center midfield positions, while Becca Robison will patrol the outside.
"Becca played really well during the spring season," said Klatte. "She is consistent, competitive, and an all-around great team player. Becca will accept any role that is given, whether it is on the bench, loud, playing five or ten minutes or the entire match. She is the type of player that will rise to any occasions."
Some of the freshmen, like Shauna Stapleton, Jordyn Shaffer and Jill Sarbaugh, can also be expected to play into the midfield mix. Klatte believes that Shaffer has the ability to come in and serve in the defensive midfielder position, as does Arin Yarc, who fits the physical mold that Kelly Haxton brought to the team in 2003. Comisar also played very well at defensive midfield this spring, but is expected to stay up front as an attacking midfielder.
A positive factor regarding sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Mason playing behind a young defense. is that she has been in environments (club and high school) where she was seeing thirty to forty shots per game. Klatte notes that one of her strengths is the ability to stay focused and make a large number of saves.
"Mason is not going to have a bad defense in front of her, we will train them and her to communicate and operate as a cohesive unit," said Klatte." Between (Maureen) Carey and Mason we possess a solid goalkeeping duo."
If Klatte has any criticisms on Mason's game, it's that she needs to work on being more consistent in catching and holding onto the ball, and also needs to become a more vocal leader. Mason learned this last year that the players have a large amount of respect for her because of her training habits and herself as a person. That level of respect can only increase if she develops her on-field communication skills.
Carey, a senior who backed up Mason in 2003, can play right now, but is not under heavy training due to a wrist injury. And even though Carey was last year's backup, Klatte has made it a point to tell them both, that the best player will start.
This past summer Carey has been working at camps and driving to Milwaukee twice a week to train with Sesselmann's team, going out of her way to make sure she is focused and ready.
"If Maureen's hand is not healthy, and she is out, then we are down to one goalkeeper," said Klatte. "Not only do game situations become more difficult, but training becomes a hardship, as well. They feel like they have to play injured, so they are going to carry those little injuries into training and not give themselves the opportunity to get better."