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2000 Women's Soccer Outlook


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July 27, 2000

Outlook-

In 13 seasons of women's soccer at The University of Tulsa, the Hurricane has finished below .500 just three times. And although one of those seasons was the 1999 campaign, TU Head Coach and his 13 returning letterwinners can't wait to begin the 2000 season.

TU finished an up-and-down 1999 season with an 8-10 overall record. But what has the Hurricane players and coaching staff so excited wasn't the hard truth that Tulsa allowed the most goals of any team in the Western Athletic Conference last year, but the fact TU also led all WAC teams in scoring.

So, Gore went out and solved his double-edged sword during the offseason by signing three goalkeepers and adding four defenders to a team that already boasted six players at that same position.

"We should be much improved overall from last year, especially on defense," Gore said. "We have three quality goalkeepers coming in and depth at each of our defender positions.

"I expect a lot more consistency this season. Our freshmen saw considerable action last year, so we have a very seasoned group returning. But, we also have 12 newcomers, so we'll have young depth competing at each position.

TU begins its fifth season as a WAC member and has finished among the top-3 teams in the conference in four seasons. Tulsa returns nine starters from a year ago including lone seniors Julie Davidson and Kelly Noonan. Both will serve as team captains for the 2000 campaign.

Forwards-

Noonan, an all-WAC second team selection as a sophomore returns to lead the Hurricane attack. Last season, she started and played in every game and produced two goals and three assists for seven points. Although her numbers were down last season compared to her first two years (10 goals and seven assists), Noonan became more of a "target" forward, or distributor for the Hurricane.

Also leading the Hurricane offense will be junior Melissa McCormick and sophomores Julie Twellman and Marcie Ferguson.

After a great spring season, McCormick heads into her third season at Tulsa with 10 goals and four assists for 24 points. Last season, she tallied six goals, which was second on the team, and two assists for 14 points.

Twellman recorded a magnificent season for Tulsa. As a freshman, she led the team with nine goals and five assists for 23 points. She was named to the all-WAC second team and to the Soccer Buzz Central Region all-Freshman Team. Twellman became the fourth TU player, and just the second freshman, to lead the team in all three scoring categories.

Ferguson played in 13 games last season and scored three goals for six points.

"All of our forwards have a knack for scoring. Kelly has become the type of player that can control a game without having to score, while Melissa and Julie are each very good at finding the net. Melissa pulled off a hat trick at the Texas A&M Tournament during the spring and Julie has become very good at beating opponents 1-on-1. Marcie should see more minutes this season as well," Gore said.

Midfielders-

Tulsa's midfield should be the strength of the team in 2000. Anchoring the midfield will be a couple of veterans-- junior Melanie Beaulieu and senior Julie Davidson.

Beaulieu is a two-year starter who has five goals and two assists for 12 points. Beaulieu has started all 37 games played over the last two seasons. After playing as a defender during her freshman campaign in 1998, she made the switch to the midfield position a year ago.

Davidson, who started her first 40 games as a defender, also made the move into the midfield last season. She responded with the best season of her career. Davidson scored six goals, which tied for second on the team, and collected a team-high five assists for 17 points.

Incoming freshman Emily Trost is one newcomer Gore expects to make an immediate impact because of her possession-oriented game and defensive work.

Sophomore Barbara Bohn is another player Gore sees playing more this season. After missing her true freshman season of 1998 with an injury, Bohn returned last season and played in eight contests.

In addition to Trost, for other newcomers- freshmen Jessica Leuenberger, Katie Schlecht and Eva Senitt, along with sophomore-transfer Liz Benoist- will all compete for playing time in the midfield. Benoist comes to Tulsa from Springhill College in St. Louis, Mo., where she was a 1999 first-team all-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference selection as a freshman.

"There's no question our midfield is the strength of our team. With Melanie, Julie and Barbara returning as well as a solid cast of newcomers, we should have a lot of stability in our midfield," Gore said.

Defenders

Tulsa's overall defense should be much improved with nine total defenders, including six returners from a year ago.

Heading up the cast will be juniors Beth Taruscio, Shannon Blatny and Kara Heer as well as sophomores Tracy Artis, Shelly Lehmkuhle and Megan Papenfuss.

Taruscio, a two-year starter, returns to the defender spot after playing as a forward during her freshman season in 1998. During her rookie season, Taruscio was named the WAC Mountain Division Freshman of the Year and was tabbed to the all-WAC first team as well as the Soccer Buzz All-America freshman squad. In two seasons, she has started all 37 games.

Blatny is also a two-year starter who provides great leadership, while Heer was the "most improved" player at the conclusion of spring drills. She has played in 30 games with nine starts.

Artis was the only freshman to start all 18 games last season. Lehmkuhle played in all 18 games and earned 10 starts last season. Papenfuss saw action in four games as a freshman.

Four freshmen will also compete for playing time including Stacy Morgan, Jessica Taylor, Angie Bowman and Keely Flynn. Taylor, who suffered a knee injury during her senior season, could miss the 2000 campaign.

"Our defense should be one of the most competitive positions on the team this season. Beth and Shannon are two-year starters and, after a great spring, Kara will look to secure a starting spot during the preseason. Tracy will once again challenge for a starting position, while Megan is developing into a very good defender. Shelly was a big contributor last year and should again compete for a starting spot this season.

"I expect all of our freshmen defenders to compete for playing time," Gore said.

Goalkeepers

If the Hurricane is to return to its winning ways, TU will have to have steady play at the goalkeeper position. Knowing this full well, Gore went after both experience and youth during the recruiting season by signing junior-transfer Corinne Bowman and a pair of freshmen in Breck Bankester and Pam Devore.

Bowman comes to Tulsa from Broome County Community College in Binghamton, N.Y., where she was a 1999 Junior College All-American. She led her team to a 28-5-2 mark in two seasons and posted a goals-against-average of 0.44 percent.

Bankester will compete with Bowman for the starting spot during the preseason, while Devore will also vie for playing time.

"Corinne has two years of college experience under her belt. She is very athletic and mobile. Breck is a very gifted goalkeeper with great athleticism. Both will compete for the starting spot. Pam has excellent technique and reaction. With a little bit of training and experience, she will also challenge for playing time," Gore said.

The Schedule

Tulsa's defense and goalkeepers will be tested early and often this season as the Hurricane face a very competitive schedule.

TU travels down the Turner Turnpike to open the season at the Oklahoma Shootout. The Hurricane will face in-state rivals Oklahoma (Sept. 25) and Oklahoma State (Sept. 27).

Tulsa opens the month of September at South Bend, Ind., against Notre Dame, the 1999 national runner-up, on Sept. 1.

The Hurricane storms into Springfield, Mo., to face Drury on Sept. 6, before returning to "Green Country" to battle Southwest Missouri State on Sept. 10 in the home opener for Tulsa. On Sept. 15, TU hosts cross-town rival Oral Roberts in the annual Mazzio's T-Town Shootout.

Tulsa begins its longest road trip of the season with Texas Tech on Sept. 17. The Hurricane then travels to Colorado College (Sept. 22), Denver (Sept. 24) and Arkansas on Sept. 27.

TU closes out the month of September with its WAC season-opener against TCU at home on Sept. 29. Two days later on Oct. 1, Tulsa hosts 1999 NCAA participant SMU.

The Hurricane invades the West Coast on Oct. 6 to square off against defending WAC champion Fresno State. Tulsa then travels up the coast to face San Jose State on Oct. 8.

Tulsa hosts new WAC member Nevada on Oct. 13 at home before welcoming Hawai`i on Oct. 15.

TU closes out league play on Oct. 22 at UTEP. The Hurricane concludes the regular season at home against non-conference opponents Arkansas-Little Rock (10/27) and IUPUI (Oct. 29.)

The 2000 WAC Tournament will be held in Fresno, Calif., Nov. 2-5.

"We expect to finish as one of the top teams in the WAC. We need to play consistent all season and find our form at the right time to finish well," Gore said.