The 2008 Edition of the BYU Women's Soccer Team Looks To Reach New Heights In 2008 (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)
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2008 Season Outlook
The defending Mountain West Conference Tournament Champion BYU women’s soccer team returns all but three starters, and the 2008 edition of the BYU Women’s Soccer team looks to carry on its winning tradition.
The 2008 season features a challenging national schedule that will take the Cougars to all corners of the country and over 25,000 air miles. The Cougars will take on teams from the top soccer conferences in the country, including the ACC, Big East, SEC, Pac-10, and Big-10.
“I am looking forward to seeing this team compete against some of the top teams in the country,” said head coach Jennifer Rockwood. “We have a returning core of players with a great amount of experience and very high expectations.”
Five seniors are poised to leave their final mark at South Field this year. Two-time All-American and Hermann Trophy candidate forward Katie Larkin dominated the offense with a team-high 15 goals and five assists. Larkin spent the summer with the U.S. National Under 23 team playing in competition throughout Europe including the prominent Nordic Cup. All-region defender Jessica Carter was a part of the BYU defense that allowed only 11 goals last season and had 14 shutouts. Starting outside back Amanda Draeger will also help to solidify the back line. Returning to defense for her final year, the Cougars return Karen Cook, who was sidelined most of the 2007 season with an ankle injury. A three-year contributor at the forward/midfield position, Katie Fellows Hodgkiss contributed three goals and an assist during the 2007 campaign, including the Mountain West Conference Tournament championship game-winning goal. Hodgkiss was also named the 2007 MWC Tournament MVP.
“This year’s seniors are collectively one of the most experienced senior groups we’ve had in some time,” said Rockwood. “Not only do they set the positive tone for the team, but also provide tremendous overall leadership. They have been a huge part of the success of our program over the past few years and are anxious to take the field for their final season.”
Joining Larkin and Fellows is freshman All-American Kassidy Christensen who was the team’s second leading scorer with 7 goals including several game winners. Christensen was also a MWC first team All-Conference player. Joining the offense is sophomore Becca Riddle who saw significant playing time last year as freshmen. The Cougars scored more than twice as many goals as their opponents (29 to 11), and outshot them 392 to 198. Returning from an ACL injury is Alyssa Vander Veur who had a strong spring showing, scoring three times during the Spring 2008 European trip.
“We are anxious to improve upon our offensive production from last season,” said Rockwood. “With several returning players and a slight formation change we expect to put even more pressure on our opponents.”
The 2008 Midfield
Even after losing prominent players Carolyn Swenson and Natalie Nate-Henriksen, the midfield will be in good hands for the 2008 season. A talented group consisting of juniors Andrea Willis, Kelsea Kakadelas, Whitney Feller, and sophomore Kristi Dow will control the middle of the field this year. Willis, an All Region and MWC First-Team selection, will be moved from her center back slot to the holding midfield position for the start of the season. Kakadelas had two assists and 46 shots last year and Feller had significant minutes for the team.
“Our midfield will continue to be the cornerstone of our team,” said Rockwood. “We will add greater emphasis to our wing play and providing better opportunities for our forwards to go to the goal. We want our midfield to be capable of scoring at any given time, and to be more effective in the attacking third of the field.”
The 2008 Defense
As in years past, the 2008 edition of the BYU defense will be one to be reckoned with. BYU’s all-time leader in shutouts, saves and goals against average Erika Woodbury graduated and left extremely large shoes to fill, but sophomores Aleena Shelton and Simone Seymour and 2008 freshman McKinzie Olson are eager to prove that they can continue the legacy of a strong presence in goal for the Cougars. Shelton received valuable minutes in goal during the spring season including the foreign trip, giving up only two goals in twelve games and helping the Cougars go undefeated in spring play.
With five returning defensive starters highlighted by All-Region defenders Jessica Carter and including Amanda Draeger, Karen Cook, and Nicole Urry, the Cougars’ stifling defense will be difficult for opposing teams to penetrate.
The 2007 nationally ranked defense was second in goals-against-average (0.402) and fifth in shutout percentage (0.609) and registered 14 shutouts.
“Our program has consistently been one of the top defensive teams in the country, and we expect to continue that tradition,” said Rockwood. “Replacing multi-record holder Erika Woodbury will be a difficult task, but we have keepers in place who I am confident will get the job done. We will continue to stress our high-pressure defense and work harder to win the ball back even further up the field. Defense is a team tactic and all 10 field players have a responsibility to will balls and create turnovers.”
The 2008 Incoming Freshmen
BYU’s 2008 freshman class adds six talented athletes to the team. Joining the team are Lauren Anderson, a forward from Danville Calif. (Monte Vista HS), Auna Janis, a midfielder from Orem, Utah (Mountain View HS), Hallie Keenan, a midfielder from Hacienda Heights, Calif. (Los Altos HS), Jennie Marshall, a forward from Modesto Calif. (Beyer HS), Dana Oldroyd, a defender from Orem, Utah (Timpanogos HS) and McKinzie Olson, a goalkeeper from Cottonwood Heights, Utah (Brighton HS).
“We are fortunate to have all of these talented and experienced student-athletes joining our program this fall,” said Rockwood. “Each and everyone on of them will have a positive impact on our team. They each come from successful high school and club teams where they were able to gain valuable training and experience that has prepared them for the Division 1 level.”
The South Field Advantage
Fans attending South Field in 2008 will notice a major upgrade in bleachers and facilities but still recognize the home field advantage that makes South Field a tough place for opponents to play. The Cougars consistently rank in the top-10 in attendance nationally.