Soccer Team Opens Campaign With First Home Tourney

July 26, 2003

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UO Tournament - Pape' Field - Eugene, Ore.

8/29 Fri.  Rice vs. San Francisco          5 pm           Boise State vs. Oregon          7 pm

8/31 Sun. Boise State vs. San Francisco Noon Rice vs. Oregon 2 pm

Barely a month away, the Ducks host their first tournament - the UO Tournament - since returning to varsity status in 1996. Oregon opens its season against Boise State in the first-day nightcap at Pape' Field. The Broncos are guided by fourth-year head coach Steve Lucas who owns a 19-29-4 record. The squad returns after a 5-11-1 overall record last season, and finished ninth in the Big West with a 1-7 league record. The squad returns seven starters and 13 letterwinners, and lost 11 letterwinners. In Sunday's second-day finale, Oregon faces Rice who sported a 4-13-2 overall record in 2002 (and sixth-place, 3-6 record in the Western Athletic Conference). Head Coach Chris Huston - also a North Carolina-tied mentor (a 1992 graduate) - returns for his third season and owns an 11-22-2 record. This year's squad returns eight starters, and 14 letterwinners, and lost nine letterwinners. Both opponents will take on the Ducks for the first time in school history.

Quick 2003 Preview

* Team returns 5 starters from 2002 (Kelly Baird-F, Lindsey Werdell-MF, Cristan Higa-MF, Carlie Ashcraft-D, Christine Mintz-D)

* Offense returns leading scorer from 2001 - redshirt sophomore Nicole Garbin - but lost three of 2002's leading scorers

* Defense graduated a three-year starter in goal, and a pair of two-year starting defenders

* Midfielder and Eugenean Lindsey Werdell named captain for 2003 season

* 2003 schedule features nine NCAA qualifiers from last year, and six from the Pac-10, and also non-conference rival & national champion Portland

* Six newcomers will vie for immediate duty, including junior transfer and NCAA veteran Erin Englehardt from Virginia

* Bill Steffen and Jon Kiester return for eighth and third seasons as head and assistant coach, and former assistant Jon Galas returns after stint at Florida State

2003 SEASON PREVIEWWith 17 letterwinners and five starters back in 2003, the Duck women's soccer squad hopes to climb the Pac-10 ranks even after they graduated three of their top players on defense and a pair of forwards. Head coach Bill Steffen returns for his eighth year at the helm and looks forward to the return of top scorer and redshirt sophomore Nicole Garbin. The Wailuku, Hawai'i native missed last season with an ACL knee injury she suffered in Florida in an exhibition road trip the week before the season opener. Garbin broke the school record for game-winning goals her freshman season in 2002 (4), and also ranked top-10 all-time in season categories for shots (third, 42), points (sixth, 15) and goals (eighth, 5).

Quick 2002 Duck Soccer Season Recap

* Final Record: 2-14-2 (Pac-10: 1-7-1)

* Goalkeeper Sarah Peters led Pac-10 in saves per average (5.50 avg.).

* Mele French team's top offensive newcomer (2 goals, 1 assist, 21 shots, 6 SOG)

* Ducks face arguably toughest schedule ever (2 #1's,12 top-25s).

* Offense carries on without eight of top nine scorers from last year.

* Ducks play first-ever night game at home at Pape' Field.

* Head Coach Bill Steffen wrap ups seventh season at helm of Ducks.

* Pac-10 sends six teams to NCAA Tournament - its second-highest ever.

The Ducks braved arguably their toughest schedule in history without eight of their top nine scorers from the previous campaign, including sophomore Nicole Garbin, and came away with a 2-14-2 record. Heading into the postseason, the Conference of Champions again staked claim as the nation's toughest soccer conference with six teams top-25-ranked at some point the last two weeks of the regular season (including No. 1 Stanford and No. 4 UCLA), five squads that were NCAA veterans in 2001, and seven that were postseason qualifiers in 2000. Graduated senior captain Sarah Peters (2.04 GAA, 102 saves, 37 GA) faced 235 shots in 18 matches, and ranked first in the conference in saves average (5.50 avg.) and second in total saves (102). In the 2002 season finale vs. Oregon State, then-junior midfielder Lindsey Werdell scored on her second penalty kick in as many tries, after going top shelf a month earlier vs. No. 19 Washington at home. Against Arizona State, then-freshman Katie Abrahamson headed in her first career goal from five yards out at 81:24 in a 2-1 loss. Then-freshman Mele French scored her second career goal vs. Washington State that same weekend, after scoring earlier in the year against then-No. 23 Utah. At season's end, the Mililani, Hawai'i native French paced the team in goals (2-tied), shots (21-tied), and stood second in points (5-tied). Then-freshman midfielder Carlie Ashcraft scored her first career goal in October's opener vs. Portland State on then-freshman midfielder Cristan Higa's second and team-leading assist. Ashcraft ended the year tied for the team lead in shots (21) and shots on goal (8). Graduated senior midfielder Amanda Orand made the most of an unexpected start in late September against Wisconsin-Green Bay with her first two career goals, and also led the team in goals (2-tied), assists (2-tied), points (6), and stood second in shots on goal (7-tied). Graduated senior Sarah Denner claimed the Ducks' first goal of 2002 vs. then-No. 13 Florida State, then found the net again vs. Arizona to start a three-goal rally, and later assisted that night on the game-winner. The defender corps featured the other pair of now-graduated captains, seniors Lindsey Peterson and Robi Thayer.

Bill Steffen begins his eighth year as the Ducks' head coach and has directed the program since the athletic department added women's soccer in 1996. He has a 37-83-11 record in Eugene, after previously serving as a North Carolina assistant coach ('93-95), and helped the Tar Heels to two NCAA titles and another top-four finish.

Head Coach Bill Steffen has penned another of the nation's toughest schedules and features nine NCAA veterans from 2002, including last season's champs (Portland), two more Elite Eight reps (Texas A&M and Stanford), another Sweet 16 member (UCLA), four more final 32 adversaries (Arizona State, California, SMU, USC) and another NCAA first-rounder (Washington State). Last year, the Ducks faced 11 NCAA vets from the 2001 finale, including North Carolina who was a finalist in 2001 and their visit to Pape' Field was the Ducks' biggest crowd ever (1,588).

The Ducks will likely feature new faces at six starting positions in 2003. Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Domenique Lainez faces perhaps the biggest challenge after the graduation of Sarah Peters who made 38 straight starts to end her career and was the fifth goalkeeper taken in the WUSA draft last spring. Lainez missed the 2002 season because of a serious ankle injury from the first week of September. As a freshman, she played two games against Eastern Washington and Portland State and in 75 minutes, had two saves, allowed two goals, and shared a shutout against Eastern Washington when she played the entire second half. The San Francisco-area native was a Central Coast Section first-team selection and ODP and Region IV Pool veteran. The two vacant defender spots could go to Carlie Ashcraft of Salt Lake City, Utah- a 15-game starter in midfielder last year - and redshirt junior Dara Wone of Burnaby, B.C. who came off a strong spring. Up front, sophomore Nicole Garbin will slide into one of the two vacant spots. Among other forward possibilities, sophomore Mele French of Mililani, Hawai'i showed flashes of offensive creativity with team leads in goals (2) and shots (21) among her 17 games, including three starts to open the year. Redshirt freshman Andrea Valadez could also challenge for starting honors after missing her freshman season with a knee injury from August 2002. As a prep, the Torrance, Calif., native was a first-team all-league pick and helped team to CIF championships as a sophomore.

The Ducks welcome six newcomers - two transfers and four true freshmen - in 2003. Erin Engelhardt joins the Ducks as a redshirt junior after playing the 2000-01 and 2001-02 seasons for Virginia, and the latter included an NCAA trip. As a sophomore, she scored three goals and six assists, and had four goals and three assists as a freshman. Another transfer, redshirt frosh Sabrina DeMonte, joined the Ducks winter term after attending Harbor Junior College in Harbor City, Calif., last fall. As a prep, she lettered three seasons at midfielder and defender, and was the team's captain, athlete of the year and leading scorer in 2002 (15 goals, 11 assists). Among the freshman quartet, Emily Marrer of Glendale, Ariz., will vie for immediate work in goal for the Ducks. The four-year letterwinner played for the state champions as a freshman and junior, and was on pace to break the state shutout record when she signed in the spring (she had 54 then). Freshman Dana Richardson is one of Canada's top midfielders/defenders and her U-15 and U-17 B.C. provincial squads finished third and second, respectively in the national tournaments. Freshman Rachel Grushkin of Eureka, Calif., was a three-time team MVP when she signed in the spring, and was a first-team Humboldt-Del Norte first-team selection those three seasons. Closer to home, freshman forward Kaily Winther was a first-team pick for Eugene's Churchill high school as a senior and junior and league MVP as a senior. The 2003 youth movement follows one of Oregon's biggest newcomer classes in 2002 - a 13-deep group that included 10 then-freshmen, one then-sophomore transfer, and two then-juniors. Among the additions, then-sophomore midfielder Christine Mintz arrived from UConn where she played 17 games for the Sweet 16 finalist Huskies. Other newcomers that started matches last year include six then-freshmen (# of matches in ()) -- forwards Mele French (3) and Valerie Mayer (5), midfielders Cristan Higa (18), Caitlin Gamble (1) and Carlie Ashcraft (15), and defender Jessica Fetzer (10) -- and sophomore Christine Mintz (18).

Senior captain and midfielder Lindsey Werdell opens her final season tops on club in the consecutive start department with 36 straight after starting every match in 2001 (18) and 2002 (18).

The Duck roster featured 25 players from seven states and one province, including California (10), Oregon (4), Utah (3), Hawaii (2), Washington (2), and British Columbia (2), Arizona (1) and New Jersey (1).

The Ducks had a busy WUSA draft day last Feb. 3, as Sarah Peters was drafted in the fourth round with the 28th pick of the draft by the San Jose CyberRays. Former Duck assistant coach and former National Team defender Keri Sanchez was traded from the Boston Breakers to her hometown San Jose after being taken with the 12th pick in the inaugural draft in 2001. That first season she accounted for three goals, one assist and 1,829 minutes (second-most on the team behind Kristine Lilly). During the summer of 2002, she posted nearly twice as many shots (11) as any other defender on the team, started 13 games and played in a total of 16 contests. The previous year in 2001, she also earned a spot on the U.S. National Team after also earning a spot on the 1995 squad. Former Duck forward Chalise Baysa was offered tryout invites from three teams - Atlanta, San Jose and Washington.

When Keri Sanchez gave up her assistant position to focus on her pro soccer career, the Ducks tapped a familiar face for her replacement. John Galas, a 1997 graduate of the University of Oregon a two-year volunteer for the Ducks returned to Eugene after a three-year stint at Florida State. The Seminoles were NCAA qualifiers each year and two-time Sweet 16 qualifiers. Galas worked extensively with FSU's goalkeepers who featured a freshman trio in 2001 that posted six shutouts and helped the squad advance to the ACC championship game. In two NCAA games that season, the same group allowed only one goal. In his first season in 2000, senior keeper Sarah Crawford posted a career-high six shutouts and was the program's first All-ACC Tournament selection. Before moving to Tallahassee, Galas worked with the Liverpool Football Club in 1998 - one of England's premier club teams. He also served as a goalkeeping coach for the club's Community Coaching Scheme while attending the University of Liverpool where he received his MBA in the Football (soccer) Industries. Galas holds a USSF National 'B' Coaching License and completed his NSCAA National Diploma in January of 2001.

A walk-on early in fall practice 2002, redshirt junior and discus standout Mary Etter appeared in her first game against Wisconsin-Green Bay in September as the Ducks' second-string goalkeeper. The Everett, Wash., native played 32 minutes, made one save and allowed two goals. A two-time discus All-American and four-time NCAA qualifier for the Ducks (eighth in 2000 and 2002), Etter registered 13 career shutouts on the pitch as a three-year prep letterwinner for Snohomish HS, the 1997 state champs. Etter will again challenge for time with redshirt sophomore Domenique Lainez who began 2002 ahead of her on the Ducks' depth chart, but missed the season because of a serious ankle injury from early September.


Q: Give us a quick overview of the season.

BS: 'This will be an exciting season. Last year was a year of challenges and growth. We had a lot of younger players get experience against some of the top teams in the country. Portland won the national title, and North Carolina is traditionally in that role. Then factor in two other NCAA teams from the ACC and then the Pac-10 which had six NCAA teams, too. A lot of the players matured very quickly, and hopefully this year they can put that development into practice. Hopefully we're healthier than we were last year, and that will be a contributing factor our success.'

Q: Go through your key returnees at the main positions.

BS: 'At midfield, Lindsey Werdell is our captain and senior. She had a really a good spring and has continued to develop over the course of her career. She's made great strides in emerging as a more dominant person for us on the field. We want to keep her as involved as possible because she keeps others involved around her. Cristan Higa had a great spring and assumed a little more of an attacking role and want to her continue. Up front, Nicole Garbin will probably be the focus, and we look for her to be healthy again, and become one of the dominant players in the conference. Last year as a freshman, Mele French has had a taste of collegiate soccer up front, and we look forward to her becoming a more consistent scoring threat. In the back, Christine Mintz and Carlie Ashcraft really began to assert themselves in a more aggressive defensive presence in the spring, and we look for them to put that into practice this fall. They both have great potential and the sum of those two together will be exciting. Dara had a really Wone good spring and became much more confident and aggressive physically after coming off her ACL. We want her to continue to progress in this manner as we go through the fall. In goal, Domenique Lainez has been working hard to come back from an ankle injury. We look for her to really blossom this fall. She's always had a good physical frame, and now it's her time to assume the mantle of leadership. The past three years, Sarah Peters has given us terrific leadership in net, and Dom has had a chance to understudy with Sara. Emily Marrer comes in as a freshman and has strong club experience and is very determined. She will push and work and develop as quickly as she possibly can. In her first fall for us last year, Mary Etter was a real sponge absorbing and applying a lot of new info quickly, and really demonstrated her athleticism. We look for her to continue that.'

Q: Talk about this year's schedule.

BS: 'This year's schedule will be very challenging but in a more systematic way than years past. We build by having some home matches early, than go on the road for some challenging games out of region, then in-region. We're excited because the final non-conference weekend we have Portland and Weber State - it's a tremendous way to wrap up the non-conference weekend by playing the defending national champion. After that, the Pac-10 should be an interesting two months. The teams are always changing, and right now it look like it could be anybody's race. The Pac-10 has developed even quicker than the level of soccer across the country, and we're excited to see how it's become the top conference in the country.'

Q: Talk about the team's overall strengths - it's speed, strength, skills, etc.

BS: 'This is the most athletic team we've had since I've been year. The question marks will be how healthy we are, and also how quickly we can gel as a team. If we can do that early on, we expect to be successful from the start. I think this group is very determined and has a great amount of desire.'

Q: What did you see from the spring workouts from the returnees?

BS: 'Compared to past years, there was a lot more growth this spring. It makes sense in that they were a lot younger in the fall, and they needed time to develop after being thrown against the third-toughest schedule nationally right off the bat. I think they learned a lot about each other. As a result of those lesson, I think this year you'll see improved confidence and experience out of them. This is a very old, young team - they have a tremendous experience level already at a very young age.'

Q: What are the key things this year's squad will need to concentrate on?

BS: 'They'll have to finish opportunities on the field. We'll be solid at creating things, but we need to make sure we finish chances. Given the schedule and how it builds, it will be important to start well and build as a squad.'

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