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Oct 17, 2003

The Buffs are 11-1-1 going into this weekend's contests against Kansas and Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Already a record breaking season for this year's team, the players and coaches are all very excited about the success that they have already experienced, but they always stay true to how they play the game.

'Our strategy hasn't changed all season,' head coach Bill Hempen remarked. 'They go into each game expecting to win. They know that they can do it, and they are succeeding. That was a big problem I had in the past.'

There are 20 players on this team, but the junior class of Jen Thais, Ellen Falender, Alyssa Burgess and Shannon Kellogg can remember when times weren't so great, but have continued to show leadership to their teammates, excellent play on the field, but above all, they have shown that they will never give up.

Jen Thais has already made a place for herself in the Colorado record books.  She once held the title for most assists by a sophomore and was second for most shots taken by a second year player. She is already listed among the top-10 all-time in four career categories. She is the co-captain of the squad and is definitely proud of her team.

'We have so many new players, and everyone on this team is good,' she remarked. 'And the coaches are just awesome!"

Thais was unable to play in last weekend's 6-0 shutout against Minnesota and CU's 0-0 tie at Oklahoma due to a concussion. These were the first games of her collegiate  career that she was sidelined.

'Emotionally, we had to play harder without her on Friday,' Bill Hempen said. He then added, 'And we definitely could have used her on Sunday.'

But even a concussion won't keep Thais off the field for too long, because she loves the game too much.

'I wouldn't play if I didn't love it,' Jen said, but quickly added, 'but it makes the game better when we win.' She admits to being a highly competitive person, but her fans, teammates and coaches would want it no other way.

'She is the emotional, spiritual and physical leader of this team,' Hempen commented. 'Paul [Hogan] and I were talking about how important Jen is to this team, and we said she was like ?the straw that stirs the drink.' She keeps us all together.'

Last weekend being the exeption, Thais has been on the pitch 47 consecutive games with 47 starts.  She put up solid numbers during her freshman campaign as she was the team's leading scorer and points producer. She was even more successful her sophomore season, increasing her point total.  In the classroom she was an Academic All-Big 12 performer and she also received the McCallister Scholar Athlete Award following her sophomore season.

As a junior, Thais was handed captain duties.

Tremendous success, all-around admiration and the responsibility as the leader and captain of this program does not give Thais an inflated ego. She stays humble about her skill and what she has accomplished. When asked what she personally needs to improve, she responded, 'Every aspect of the game!' As far as her team is concerned, she said, 'Well, there is always room to improve, as an individual player and as a team. We always want to be the best we can be.'

Right now, Thais is just so happy to be on such an amazing team. 'It feels awesome to win,' she said with a great big smile on her face. 'It's fun---it's really fun!'

Referred to as the 'spark' of the 2001 walk on class, Alyssa Burgess has shown  tremendous strength both on and off of the soccer field.

Burgess has found her way on to the points column each of her three seasons here at CU, and has played in every match of her two-plus years (49), starting 41 of those contests. Hempen's true 'utility player', She has played in three out of four positions as a starter and has found success in all of those positions. She took the corner kicks [with Fran Munnelly] during the 2002 season and scored the game winner against Northern Arizona.

She carries 3.821 GPA as an accounting major (that is the 14th best GPA among student athletes). She has been on the Dean's List for four consecutive semesters and she was named to the 2002 Academic All-Big 12 team.

How could you describe Ellen Falender? Infectious attitude. The best laugh on the team. Willing to do anything. Good at every position. Well, at least that is how Hempen describes her.

'She just has such an amazing attitude,' he remarked. 'It's infectious, and she does anything I ask her to do. It's great to have someone like her on the team because she can play any position, and she plays them all well.'

In two-plus seasons she has started 14 of 42 contests and has put numbers up in both the goals and assists columns. She can play midfield, defense and forward, and this season, she is focusing more on the latter. Ellen is 'up for any' position, but right now, she feels that she plays the best when she is playing as a forward. She wants to work on her confidence once she has the ball, and says that her team will get much better if 'they just continue to build on the good things we have done so far.'

Another amazing attribute about Ellen is her outstanding academic achievements. She has the best GPA among her teammates with a 3.842 going into her junior campaign. She has the ninth highest GPA among the 300-plus student athletes at Colorado. She has also appeared on the Dean's List for four consecutive semesters, and pulled off a 3.944 GPA in the spring of 2002.

After joining Hempen's first team as a walk-on, she has stayed with the team through thick and thin and is so excited to be achieving such great success. When asked about the success of the team this season following a first season of challenges and last year's improvement, Falender responded, 'There is just a chemistry that this team has that hasn't been there in the past. I mean, the hard work....that has always been there. Now it's just paying off.' Hopefully that hard work will lead to Falender's ultimate season goal for her team, a bid into the 2003 NCAA Tournament.

One of the most exciting things about this season for Falender is the fan support. 'They are so supportive,' she said. 'People always come up to me and say, ?Hey, I saw your game! Great job!' That just means a lot to me.'


Shannon Kellogg was primarily a practice player during her freshman season here

at CU, but after coming off the bench for the 2001 game against Kansas, it was evident that there was more than meets the eye to this player.

She proceeded to play in 13 games her sophomore campaign, two of those as a starter. She connected on her first career goal off her first career shot as a Buffalo at Texas Tech last season and took another shot against Nebraska.

Kellogg is a psychology major holding a 3.446 gpa, showing up on the Dean's List for both the fall and spring semesters in 2002.

Kellogg is redshirting this season, due to a torn right ACL injury that she suffered during the spring season, but her sideline support both in practice and games has not wavered.

As the season progresses,this team continues to improve and strive for the excellence that Hempen expects of his team. The amazing thing about this team, is that they now expect excellence from themselves. With the leadership of Jen Thais, the laughter of Ellen Falender, the consistency of Alyssa Burgess and the support of Shannon Kellog, the team is sure to go as far as they want.

When asked about her goal for this season, she responded, 'I just want to prove what we are. I want to prove to everyone that we can do it.'

Jen, that's not a problem anymore.