2001 Women's Soccer Season Review

Jan. 4, 2002

CORVALLIS - After posting their best record since 1995 and narrowly missing a berth in the NCAA Tournament, the 2001 Oregon State University women's soccer team has plenty of accomplishments to be proud of. The Beavers finished the season tied for seventh in the Pac-10 Conference with a record of 10-8-2 (2-6-1 Pac-10), and had three players earn all-conference honors. It was a significant improvement over last year's record of 6-13-2, including a winless conference slate, and it appears to mark the beginning of a turnaround for the program.

'We weren't particularly surprised by the success we had, because we knew we would be stronger,' said head coach Steve Fennah, now in his fourth year at OSU. 'Obviously, we were very excited that it worked out that way.

'We now have three-year players who we felt could get it done,' said Fennah. 'You combine that with the fact that we had our first class that was ranked nationally in recruiting circles, and that was the reason we were successful.'

Tourney hopes unrealized

Although the Beavers were officially the Pac-10's seventh-ranked team according to the conference tie-breaking rules, the team was not invited to participate in the NCAA tournament. Fennah remained positive after the season, and is confident that his team will build on this year's successes.

'Yes, I think we were disappointed for a short period of time. Actually, a lot of coaches from various schools across the country have said that we were (slighted) by not being in the tournament. Maybe that's a fair comment, but we looked at it like we could have solved that problem ourselves. If we had won one more game, we would have been invited.

'That's part of the learning experience for a young team, to make sure they win games when they are in the position. So you can look at it and say, yes, it was a disappointment, but there was an overall great excitement about what we accomplished, and we can now use that as a learning experience.'

A season to remember

The season was highlighted by an early 2-0 win over perennial soccer power Loyola Marymount, a 2-1 overtime victory against No. 19 University of San Diego, an exciting 2-1 upset of third-ranked UCLA, and the Beavers' first Civil War win since both Oregon schools joined the Conference.

'The icing on the cake was the UCLA win,' Fennah continued. 'We actually didn't play as well against UCLA as we had in some other games, but we won that match, and that was huge for this program.'

Standout performers

Junior Katie Henderson had a breakout year after missing significant time in each of her previous seasons with injuries. Henderson led the team with seven goals and six assists for 20 points. She was closely followed by sophomore Lindsey Beem with 19 points, freshman Jillian Nicks with 15, and sophomore Courtney Carter with 12.

Jo Fletcher, backed up by Gabby Nejedlo in net, held OSU's opponents to 25 goals over the season, while their teammates scored 33 goals.

Beem and Henderson led the team with 45 and 44 shots, respectively, and Nicks made her goals count with three game-winning tallies.

Mandy Melendez' defensive skills were recognized with a second team All-Pac-10 selection, and Henderson and junior Morgan Crabtree both received all-conference honorable mention.

Several players also earned accolades for their performances off the field. Crabtree was awarded first-team Pac-10 All-Conference Academic honors, Carter was named to the second team, and Henderson and Melendez earned honorable mention. To be selected, each player maintained at least a 3.0 GPA and was a starter or significant contributor on the field.

Fennah praised his players' efforts, noting that several made marked improvements from past seasons.

'We had good performances out of a lot of people. Each of our captains (Kaady, Henderson, and Whitney Horn) did a huge job, on and off of the field, in their leadership of the team. Defensively, Mandy Melendez was strong, and offensively Jo Fletcher came in goal and made a huge impact. In addition, Crabtree developed this year into one of the best midfield players in the conference.'

Outlook good for next year

OSU loses only one senior, Leila Kaady, and will benefit next year from a sophomore class that has already played a significant number of games, as well as a large class of experienced seniors. Veteran transfer Jo Fletcher will again likely share the goalkeeping duties with Nejedlo, assuring the Beavers of another year of solid net-minding. The coaching staff is confident that the mix of new faces and experience will continue to bring success.

'Leila (Kaady) was a very strong player for us, she'll certainly be missed,' Fennah said. But, overall our squad will continue to improve. We played a lot of freshmen this year, and now they have a year of experience, so there's big improvement right away. And again, we have some very good freshmen committed, our recruiting class is looking very good.'

The Beavers will return all four of their top scorers, two experienced goalkeepers, and its entire defensive corps. With virtually the same personnel, an additional year of experience, and another group of talented freshmen battling for playing time, the future of the women's soccer program looks promising.

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