OSU Opens Its Bid For NCAA Appearance With Two Matches In San Diego

Aug. 27, 2003

CORVALLIS, Ore. - -

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Friday, Aug. 29, 4 p.m. - Oregon State (9-9-2, 2-7-0 Pac-10 in 2002) at San Diego State (13-7-0, 3-3-0 Mountain West Conference)

Sunday, Aug. 31, 11:45 a.m. - OSU at San Diego (11-7-3, 3-3-1 West Coast Conference)

A LOOK AT SAN DIEGO STATE: The Aztecs return 10 starters and 15 letterwinners from last year's squad, including three-time first-team MWC forward Kim Castellanos, who tallied 26 points on 10 goals and six assists last year.

OSU HISTORY WITH SDSU: The Beavers and Aztecs renew a five-game series in which OSU owns a 4-1-0 record; the last meeting was a 3-0 OSU win in 1995 in Corvallis. The Beavers only loss was a 1-0 decision in 1991. In all, OSU owns an 11-3 advantage in goals scored.

A LOOK AT SAN DIEGO: Five of USD's top six scorers return from a team that advanced to the NCAA College Cup last year, including scoring leader Brook Roby, who tallied 21 points as a sophomore midfielder.

OSU HISTORY WITH USD: OSU is 1-1-0 with the Toreros. The Beavers claimed a 2-1 overtime win in 2001, and lost 4-0 in 1996.

PREVIEW: Firepower. Experienced firepower. That's perhaps the most prominent aspect of head coach Steve Fennah's 2003 OSU women's soccer squad when looking at a roster and last year's statistics. A close second to that is the team's youth: just one senior, team scoring leader Courtney Carter, returns from last year's group that went 9-9-2, and only four juniors accompany her on the roster. Six starters are back.

But again, there's the firepower. Five of last year's top six scorers return - only Katie Henderson, the school's fourth-all-time points leader, is gone.

Of the quintet, Brianna Monka (17 points in 2002), Stacey Mescher (11 points) and Tessa Baker (7 points) are sophomores this year. Lindsey Beem (11 points) returns to her midfield position as a junior.

Carter, whose 19 points last year placed her eighth in the Pacific-10 Conference scoring race, enters her final campaign with 37 career points (15 goals, 7 assists) - good for 10th on OSU's all-time list. With 30 career points (10 goals, 10 assists), Beem is 12th.

In addition to his team's youth, Fennah cited athleticism as a major factor in OSU's quest for the NCAA Tournament - a goal which has been tantalizingly close the last two years.

'In one sense, the last couple of years have been very encouraging and very good for us because we got back to back years with quality winning percentages,' Fennah said. 'So it's been a great step forward, but we want to play in the tournament.

'We have a young squad this year, so experience is going to be a big factor. We feel good about the fact that our freshman and sophomore classes are very, very good, and I think that's widely recognized, but we need them to play as older players.

'I think that's going to be one of the keys, is how we deal with lack of experience.'

The Beavers' 12-day, five-game preseason trip to Costa Rica - which features two matches against the Costa Rican National Team - should give the newcomers a valuable taste of competition at a higher level.

'I think that is very important,' Fennah said. 'In this instance we felt that with a young squad, it would be great to have those games under our belt. I think that practice and preparation and the ability to play some games will be a big plus for us.'

The following is a breakdown of the 2003 squad.

Forwards (Catherine Betts, fr.; Tessa Baker, so.; Courtney Carter, sr.; Janelle Joy, jr.; Stacey Mescher, so.; Jill Nicks, jr.)

First things first on the front line: stay healthy. As a unit, the forwards were hit with injuries last year, and several members have been rehabilitating during the offseason. Letterwinners Janelle Joy (11 games) and Stacey Mescher (4 goals, 3 assists) escaped without injury.

'Up front, the key for us is to keep our strikers healthy,' Fennah said. 'If they're healthy, I'm excited about the talent we have to score some goals. It's crucial that they are able to develop an understanding of how they play together; if they do that, they have the speed and skill to do well.'

Offensively, the Beavers put up 98 points last year along with a school-record 297 shots. The five returning players accounted for 40 of the 98 points.Midfielders (Lindsey Beem, jr.; Shelby Crabtree, so.; Sara LaFleur, fr.; Liz Money, so.; Brianna Monka, so.; Kelli Washburn, fr.)

The deepest, most experienced area of the park for the Beavers is the midfield. Beem (3 goals, 5 assists), a team captain, and Monka (7 goals, 3 assists) were among the team's top scorers last year and lead a versatile unit with plenty of depth. Crabtree (20 games, 5 starts) saw significant action as a true freshman last year as a holding midfielder.

'This is our most experienced area,' Fennah said. 'Lindsey Beem and Bri Monka were mainstays here last year, and we return players (Crabtree, and Money) who did well last year alternating in the lineup for Morgan Crabtree (who played much of her senior year injured). It's an area where we feel we have some strength.'

Fennah is counting on some of the freshmen to contribute right away as well.

'We have some good players coming into this area. Both Sara LaFleur and Kelli Washburn will compete heavily for spots right away.

'We have a group of midfielders who can go forward and score goals as well as defend and win challenges.'

Defense (Jen Crump, fr.; Melena Ertler, jr.; Tiara Hong, fr.; Cara Miller, so.; Liz Money, so.; Stephanie Padilla, fr.; Alison Vislay, fr.; Shelly Wallace, sr.; Kelli Washburn, fr. Lauren Wipple, fr.)

This is the youngest unit on the field with five freshmen; only Ertler, Miller and Money saw action on a defensive group that posted six shutouts in 2002. Ertler is the only returning starter.

Though inexperienced at the collegiate level, talented newcomers will compete for time to replace three starters from last year's group.

'We definitely need some of the freshmen to step up right away,' Fennah said. 'Aly Vislay has competed at a very high level of youth soccer, as well as Kelli Washburn and Jen Crump. Between those three, we expect to see some contributions right away. Stephanie Padilla, although we may play her in the midfield, could claim a spot in the back.'

Ertler, a team captain, has started 38 of 39 games in which she has played over her first two seasons, and will be counted on for stability in the backfield. Miller played in 15 games (4 starts) as a freshman and Money saw time in the backfield as well.

'Melena Ertler has played nearly every minute of every game she's been healthy for since she's been here, so we'll rely heavily on her to step up and be a leader for us there. We expect to see continued progress from some of the sophomores who did well as freshmen last year.'Goal (Amy Johnson, so./tr.; Melissa Onstad, fr.)

With the loss of OSU recordholder Jo Fletcher (1.24 career goals-against average) and the transfer of reserve Alicia Artuso, the Beavers will look to newcomers Amy Johnson and Melissa Onstad to mind the net.

Johnson transferred from Utah State, where she compiled a 1.33 GAA in 270 minutes of action as a freshman.

'It's a little unusual to have two new goalkeepers, but we feel good about both of them and their abilities,' Fennah said. 'Each of them has particular strengths, so it will be a case of seeing which one has the overall package to win the starting spot. I wouldn't be surprised if the two of them battle for that spot and it changes over the course of the season.'

With a schedule featuring 10 opponents that competed in the NCAA Tournament last year, the Beavers will need to mesh their considerable talent and athleticism quickly. OSU opens with six of its first eight games on the road, including tilts at 2002 NCAA Tournament teams San Diego (Aug. 31), Wake Forest (Sept. 14) and Pepperdine (Sept. 21). In addition, OSU has a preseason date at defending national champion Portland (Oct. 4).

OSU will play its usual allotment of nine Pac-10 teams, six of which were postseason competitors in 2002.

'We have a very tough schedule this year, so it will be very important for us to get off to a good start,' Fennah said. 'The combination of pulling the experience together, the athleticism and the overall pattern of how we play will be the key for us making the tournament.'

OSU OPENERS: In its 15 season openers, OSU is 5-9-1, but is 1-0-1 in its last two openers. The Beavers haven't had an opening game at home since 1995 when they beat Connecticut 2-1, and have played their last six openers at neutral or opposing sites.

COSTA RICA: Oregon State returned from what turned out to be a four-game, 12-day tour of Costa Rica on Aug. 24 after defeating three professional squads and playing the Costa Rica National Team to a standstill for a half.

Originally slated to play five games, the team's second match with the national team - the final game of the trip - was rained out due to a torrential downpour.

OSU opened its tour on Aug. 14 with a 4-3 win over the professional squad Goicochea, which was the First Division runner up this year.

OSU then defeated the First Division champion Desamparados twice, 4-1 on Aug. 15 and 3-0 on Aug. 18, before dropping a 3-0 decision to the national team.

Janelle Joy, a junior, led the team with four goals in the first three games, and Stacey Mescher added two scores and three assists.

'Overall, it was an excellent tour,' OSU coach Steve Fennah said. 'Our team came together and gained valuable experience. We played well overall and achieved our goals we set for the tour.'

The team also saw several world-renowned sights, including the Arenal Volcano, the Tabacon Hot Springs and Playa Tambor.

CARTER OUT: Senior forward Courtney Carter will miss the 2003 season with a broken fibula and tibia in her left leg. The West Linn, Ore., native broke the bones in the team's second match in Costa Rica against the professional squad Desamparados on Aug. 15 in a collision with the opponent's goalkeeper.

Carter led the team in scoring last year with 19 points on eight goals and three assists. Seven of her goals came in three games, including a hat trick in a 5-1 win over Air Force on Sept. 27. She tallied two scores in a 5-2 win over New Mexico on Oct. 4 and in a 5-0 win over Arizona on Oct. 27. Her other goal came in a 3-1 loss at California on Oct. 20. She moved into 10th on OSU's career points list with 37 on 15 goals and seven assists. Her 15 goals are the ninth-most in OSU history. Her 19 points were tied for 10th on the season list, and her eight goals tied for seventh. In the Pac-10, she tied for eighth in scoring and seventh in goals scored.

BEEM ME UP: Junior Lindsey Beem enters the 2003 campaign tied for 10th on the school's all-time assist list with 10. She had five in each of her first two seasons, and has 10 career goals to boot. Beem scored seven as a redshirt freshman and three last year as a sophomore. She was fourth in the Pac-10 in shots with 56 last year, and 10th in assists. Last season's numbers placed her in a tie for 10th on OSU's all-time season points list.

BATTLE IN THE NET: The competition to see who will replace OSU career goals-against average recordholder Jo Fletcher is between two newcomers, freshman Melissa Onstad and sophomore transfer Amy Johnson. At Utah State, Johnson made 15 saves and sported a 1.33 GAA in six games.

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