NewsMVNU Women's Soccer Team Ready for 2002 Campaign
written by Dave Parsons, Sports Information Director
MOUNT VERNON, Ohio - After back-to-back winning seasons in the first two years of the program's existence, the Mount Vernon Nazarene University women's soccer team is ready to build off that success and take things to the next level when the 2002 season gets under way.
The Lady Cougars finished the 2001 campaign with a 14-9-0 record on the heels of an 11-8-0 mark the previous year. By posting a 10-6-0 American Mideast Conference record, the team qualified for the NAIA Region IX Tournament for the first time. MVNU dropped a hard-fought 3-2 decision in overtime to Houghton (N.Y.) College, the eventual region champions, in the quarterfinals. The Lady Cougars rebounded to defeat Baptist Bible (Pa.) College in the National Christian College Athletic Association East Region championship match to advance to the NCCAA National Tournament for the first time.
Head Coach Jonathan Meade, who has compiled a 25-17-0 record while leading MVNU the past two seasons, returns 13 players from last year's squad. "I am very excited about this team," said Meade. "First and foremost, we have a good group of personalities that have meshed well and will provide the foundation to the continued positive team dynamic that we have had in the past."
"The youth movement has now reached the next level, and I believe that the players and I have learned from the mistakes we made as a new program," Meade added. "I really feel that this team has the experience to compete at a high level and do well. Believing, though, is just the first step. Now, we have to put that belief into action."
Sophomore Catherine Hess will lead the attack at the forward position. Hess tied for the team lead last year with 13 goals and added seven assists as she was named to the AMC Honorable Mention Team and the NCCAA All-East Region Team. She will be joined up front by sophomore Jessi Gates and freshmen Kristen Votapek and Holly Dyer. Gates recorded two goals and one assist in 2001, while Votapek was named to the Fort Ancient Valley Conference First Team and Dyer posted seven goals and six assists as they wrapped up their high school careers.
The Lady Cougars should be strong in the midfield with three starters returning. Senior Bethany Seiffert compiled nine goals and eight assists last year as she was named to the AMC Second Team, the NCCAA All-East Region Team, the NAIA Region IX First Team, the NCCAA Honorable Mention All-American Team, and the NAIA Honorable Mention All-American Team.
Senior Kelly Evans and junior Lisa Hinman will also help control the midfield for MVNU. Evans recorded five goals and three assists in 2001, while Hinman tied for the team lead with 13 goals and matched the school's single-season assist mark with 10 as she was named to the AMC Second Team, the NCCAA All-East Region Team, and the NCCAA All-National Tournament Team. Hinman is now the program's career leader in goals (33), assists (15), and total points (81).
Senior Stephanie White, junior Sarah Rinehart, sophomore Sarah Helbert, and freshmen Leanna Goss and Bethany Rockwell will also compete for time in the midfield. White returns to the team after taking a year off, while Rinehart and Helbert both contributed to the team's success last season. Meanwhile, Goss recorded one goal and three assists in her final high school season, and Rockwell tallied five goals and three assists while earning Ohio Capital Conference First Team honors as a senior.
MVNU's defense is anchored by returning juniors Cheryl Balogh, Karen Stasiowski, and Katrina Iles. Balogh contributed five goals and seven assists in 2001 as she was named to the AMC Honorable Mention Team and the NCCAA All-East Region Team. Stasiowski and Iles combined to help the team post seven shutouts and allow only 34 goals in 23 matches a year ago.
Senior Krista Reynolds and freshmen Audrey Hager and Deborah Shinaberry will also help add depth to the back line. Reynolds compiled four goals and four assists in 2001 as an AMC Honorable Mention and NCCAA All-East Region Team selection, while Hager and Shinaberry were each named to the District All-Star Team following their high school senior seasons.
Junior Kristi Tuck and sophomore Meghan Schymanski will battle for the starting goalkeeper spot after splitting time during the 2001 season. Schymanski recorded three shutouts and a 0.99 goals against average, while Tuck posted two shutouts and a 1.85 goals against average.
MVNU's schedule should prove to be its most challenging one yet as the Lady Cougars will look to compete for the program's first AMC title. This year, the AMC is split into two divisions with MVNU competing against Tiffin University (#25 in the NAIA preseason poll), Malone College (received votes in the NAIA preseason poll), Walsh University, Ohio Dominican University, Cedarville University, Urbana University, and Shawnee State University in the South Division.
In addition, the team will take on Geneva (Pa.) College and Bethel (Ind.) College at the Malone Tournament to open the season on August 30-31. MVNU will host Houghton (#14 in the NAIA preseason poll), Indiana Wesleyan University (#22 in the NAIA preseason poll), Otterbein College, Kenyon College, and Nyack (N.Y.) College in non-conference matches. The Lady Cougars will also travel to Cornerstone (Mich.) University, Notre Dame College, Capital University, the College of Wooster, and Grace (Ind.) College.
"This is probably our most talented team yet," said Meade. "However, we will also be playing our most difficult schedule to date. Every team we play this season will push us to perform at our highest level if we are to be successful."
MVNU will kick off the 2002 season at 2:00 p.m. on Friday when the team takes on Geneva in the first round of the Malone Tournament in Canton, Ohio.