Aug. 29, 2007
There was the 2004 recruiting class that was ranked ninth nationally and was deemed to do great things upon its arrival to campus. They did not disappoint. Coupled with upperclassmen who already had a Big Ten Tournament championship and two NCAA appearances to their credit, the `04 class quickly got a taste of the good life as it helped spur the squad to an Elite Eight appearance.
Fast forward to 2007 and this more mature group is now the field general, ready for its final attempt at greatness. Joining them on their quest is the '07 recruiting class, judged No. 1 in the Big Ten and 13th in the nation by SoccerBuzz.com. With one and two years of experience to grow from, the sophomore and junior classes also will contribute a wealth of depth at every position and on every line.
Sky's the Limit
Mitchell shares similar attributes to Arbulu. At 5-9, she has a long stride which enables her to gain tremendous pace. Mitchell also will be used regularly on set pieces, as she is one of the best team headers.
Redshirt freshman Cassie Dickerson is slated to be a central defender after missing the 2006 season because of a knee injury.
As a junior, Amy Graeff's athleticism will complement her consistent habits. She is considered to be one of the hardest working players in the program.
The More, The Merrier
"With the ball at her feet, her speed, her athleticism and her ability to change direction are world class," head coach Lori Walker said. "She's extremely competitive every day in training and has really developed into a passionate leader on the field. The most special piece of Lara's game is her final pass. She just puts the ball on a platter and it's very easy to finish a ball that she slides between a couple of backs."
Also captaining the team with Mitchell and Dickenmann is defensive center midfielder Amanda Ball. She handles all the little details that make for a successful team.
Just at the right time, Ashley Bowyer transformed from a club/high school-level player to a collegiate one toward the end of 2006. Confidence is a good thing, and Bowyer had so much assurance, it propelled her right onto the U.S. Under-20 team for three matches in March.
As if there were not enough dangerous components to Ohio State's midfield, the Buckeyes added Top 25 (SoccerBuzz.com) recruit Emily Esbrook to the mix. Like Dickenmann, Esbrook's final pass is something to fear.
"I think our ability to maintain possession through the midfield and changing the point is going to be stronger than ever," Walker said.
What's it Like at the Next Level?
Dubbed a "soccer junkie" by Walker, Courtney "CJ" Jenkins has plenty of flair to her game, while fellow freshman Abby Merrell's presence can be felt throughout the field, standing at 5-10. Ali Whitehurst is also a rookie to watch, as she comes from a tough club system. Lauren Steuer may also see some time at midfield, as well as Marisa Simon and Shawn Skladany.
Fifth-year player Kate Linehan has endured a few knee injuries, but when she is in the game, she offers a counter-attacking style that deepens the OSU bench.
Then there is the passionate leader of the team - Caitlin Colfer. A playmaker at her core, Colfer has a good sense of the game. With that comes her knack to rally the team at all moments, and that is a role she has embraced.
She was a bit of an unknown at the start of 2006, but by the Big Ten Conference schedule, Ali Schwach had earned a starting spot. It is the intangibles that make Schwach such a valuable asset. Her passion and toughness is unparalleled and after sustaining a season-ending knee injury toward the end of the year, Schwach is anticipated to be in full form by the fall.
Lauren Thomas is a returning player whose breakaway speed and ceaseless energy is an important piece to any offense.
She seems to be a bit sneaky, slipping behind a defensive line and simply putting the ball into the net. At 5-1, Laura Roberts has taken advantage of some of her greatest traits. Her knack to score on breakaway chances will give opposing defenses fits. Genna Brand is another of the speedy players on the 2007 Buckeye squad.