After one year as a club team, the Mount Vernon Nazarene College women's soccer team is ready to lace up its cleats for real as the Lady Cougars get set for their first season of varsity competition in 2000.
Playing against primarily a varsity schedule in 1999, MVNC posted a respectable 4-7-1 record. With several key returning players and an outstanding recruiting class, the Lady Cougars are ready to make history in their first season.
"I am looking forward to this season with great anticipation," said head coach Jonathan Meade, who is entering his first official year as a collegiate coach after guiding the MVNC club team last season. "We have a roster full of talented players and we are now playing at the varsity level. Last season was a good experience, but it was difficult to maintain the intensity and motivation because we would practice for ten days before having the opportunity to play a match. This year, the team will be rewarded more frequently for their effort by playing a regular schedule. Also, knowing that records, statistics, and playoffs are all part of the mix has made the players more motivated about every practice because the taste of competition and success is just around the corner."
MVNC returns its top two point scorers from 1999 in the midfield. Senior captain Amy Seiffert scored three goals and led the team with five assists, while sophomore Kelly Evans scored a team-high six goals and added three assists. Seiffert and Evans will be counted on to provide experience, knowledge, and leadership at the center midfield positions.
Junior midfielders Krista Reynolds, Holly Shuler, and Sarah Kump will add speed and experience on the flanks. Reynolds, a captain, and Shuler, who scored three goals last season, both were key contributers to the club team in 1999. Kump will be playing her first season of collegiate soccer. Freshmen Sarah Rinehart, Mary Yoder, Emily Snyder, and Nicole Markel have all shown encouraging signs in the midfield as well.
Despite not returning any players at the forward position, the Lady Cougars have several skilled newcomers who are ready to step in and contribute. Senior Shelly Aldrich, who has played both basketball and softball at MVNC, will lead the way with strength, tenacity, and skill up front. "Shelly never quits, and she has a real knack for getting to the ball in the box," said Meade.
Aldrich will be joined by freshman Lisa Hinman, an All-State player from New York who scored 44 career goals in high school. "Lisa will compliment Shelly well up front," Meade said. "I can see the two of them doing a real nice job together and scoring lots of goals for us this season."
Senior Beca Scotland and freshman Janelle Wine will also see time at the forward position. Scotland is playing her first season of collegiate soccer, while Wine comes to MVNC after a stellar high school career.
Defensively, the Lady Cougars will be led by junior captain Tiffany Chappell at sweeper, junior Sheri Shuler at stopper, and outside backs Shauna Dickinson, Cheryl Balogh, and Katrina Iles. Chappell started every match for MVNC last season, while Shuler transferred from the University of Findlay. Dickinson, a junior, started in every match but one last season and recorded two goals and two assists. Meanwhile, Balogh was a Third Team All-Ohioan and Iles was a standout in soccer and track at their respective high schools. Sophomore Stephanie White and freshmen Kristi Tuck and Karen Stasiowski will also compete for playing time on defense.
Freshman Rita Mullins should start in goal for the Lady Cougars after posting 11 shutouts and being selected as the Ohio Heartland Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in high school. Sophomore Kinsey Tom will back up Mullins after seeing action in six matches last season. Tuck could also compete for playing time at keeper.
MVNC will be competing in the highly-competitive American Mideast Conference that consists of twelve teams. Two-time defending conference champion Tiffin University is ranked #18 in the NAIA preseason poll.
The Lady Cougars will travel to the Olivet Nazarene (IL) University Classic to open the season on Friday, September 1. MVNC will face Taylor (IN) University and the host Lady Tigers in the four-team tournament. Other non-conference matches will include Kenyon College, Lake Erie College, Huntington (IN) College, and a trip down south to Tennessee Wesleyan College and Covenant (GA) College.