Ten Schools in Ten Days: Washington State Women's Soccer Preview

Sept. 8, 2005

Washington State Soccer Head Coach Matt Potter enters his third season determined to build on last year's experiences, developing a team eager and able to make Cougar soccer competitive at the postseason level.

'Experience counts no matter what the environment,' Potter said. 'We have a great senior class and the team continues to grow each day. We are focused on our continued progress as team and as a program. Our feet are firmly planted on the ground and we are excited about the challenges of the fall. This group will not be content to miss out or come as close as it did last season to postseason play, so expect to see that tone set right from the start of preseason.'

Potter led the Cougars to a 8-7-4 record during his second season as head coach, notching four wins against ranked opponents including the 3-2 upset victory over cross-state rival No. 12 Washington.

Potter is joined by Assistant Coach Lindsey Jorgensen who returns for her third season on the WSU coaching staff. The former Cougar keeper assists with all coaching duties and continues to focus on the training and development of the goalkeeping unit.

The Cougars return several top players including the team's leading point-scorers, forwards Alix Rustrum and Haley Thompson-Miller. Rustrum and Thompson-Miller combined for 14 goals and one assist for 29 points in 2004. The senior duo is joined by sophomores Brooke Bemis and Kim Bonnes as well as two newcomers, Natalie D'Amico and Megan Hyte.

'We have a great deal of depth in this position,' Potter said. 'Competition for places and playing time will be at an all time high. The many talents this group offers puts in a position to give different looks and play in a variety of styles without missing a beat. We return a good group of players who have gained valuable time competing against top competition and, more importantly, had success in finding the back of the net. Adding two newcomers to the group serves to excite us even more and as a staff, we look forward to the challenges of selection based on performance and needs.'

The WSU midfield saw the departure of several veterans in 2004 and returns just one starter, senior Carmen Anderson. Anderson leads a group of eager sophomores including Molly Alexander, Natalie Elkind and Shaye Harrel who look to build on great freshman seasons. The midfield unit is rounded out by junior walk-on Sasha Baines and sophomores Christy Crudo and Anna Miller.

'Our midfield group has handled change very well, both in adjustments in team style and shape,' Potter observed. 'I am excited about the versatility and work ethic of this group and eager to see how they handle the challenges of the season. If we are to do well, this group will have a major role to play as their play sets the tone for the team. We have an array of talent that can allow us to play in many different ways. That versatility will help us with our challenging schedule. We need to find ways to get more players scoring from midfield and this group has worked hard to address this need throughout the spring. It will be fun to see how the experiences of last season have benefited this young group and how they continue to push each other as they compete for playing time.'

The Cougar defense returns an experienced unit that allowed just 22 goals in 2004. Led by seniors Jennie Kunc and Ashley Lara, and junior Angela Fajardo, the Cougar back line looks to be tough in 2005. The upperclassmen are joined by sophomores Jessica Martinez and Allison Scurich along with newcomer Alex Butler.

'I am pleased with the growth of this group,' said Potter. 'They are well on their way to being an accomplished unit. We have a great deal of versatility and talent. It is an experienced and athletic unit that will need to be at its best if we are to succeed this fall. They are gelling and growing in confidence and have shown signs of being a resolute back line under pressure. If we are to build on the lessons learned from last fall this group will need to be resilient and steadfast. It will be exciting to see who steps up and shows the consistency in their performance to separate themselves from the group.'

Redshirt senior Katie Hultin leads a talented trio of Cougar keepers, sharing goal tending duties with redshirt senior Megan Miller and sophomore Brynn Bemis. Hultin continues her assault on the Cougar soccer career record books, ranking third with 3,423 minutes in goal, fourth with 164 saves, tied for third with 14 wins and third with a 0.97 goals against average.

'We are blessed in this position with both talent and leadership,' remarked Potter. 'Katie continues to shine both on and off the field but Megan and Brynn are both accomplished student athletes who would bless and grace any program. Each has shown the ability to take responsibility for our back line and have earned the respect and confidence of their teammates. Competition for playing time should be tremendous and history would say we are in great `hands'...no pun intended.'

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