2004 Husky Women's Soccer Outlook
Aug. 24, 2004
SEATTLE - Washington's Lesle Gallimore is the 'Dean of Pac-10 Coaches.' She begins her second decade as head coach of the Husky women's soccer program.In her first 10 years, Gallimore led UW to seven NCAA Tournament appearances. She amassed records for Pac-10 coaches with 113 overall wins and 47 conference victories.The pinnacle of her tenure was 2000 when she directed the Huskies to a Pac-10 championship and the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Washington is the only school outside the state of California to claim the conference crown.'That was a special season and it proves that it can be done at Washington,' Gallimore explained.'I have been really fortunate to work here for this long and really build something that is special. I think, going into the second decade, I have a lot more to give and there are still some things that we want to accomplish.'Any accomplishments in 2004 will be built upon an outstanding 2003 season. Washington compiled an 11-7-3 record last year, finishing fifth in the Pac-10 with a 4-4-1 mark. UW defeated a pair of ranked teams and tied two others.Three of the Huskies' seven losses came against teams ranked among the top-10, including a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 1 North Carolina which went undefeated and won the NCAA title. In the first round of the NCAA Tournament, UW outshot Nebraska 20-10, but lost on a late free kick goal that deflected off a defender and trickled into the goal.'One of our goals early on is going to be to just become a team as quickly as we can,' said Gallimore. 'Long term, we really want to make the push to get as far in the playoffs as we ever have and we are a goal here and a second there away from a college cup. We look at the teams last year that were in it and we have done this several years where you have taken three of those teams into overtime and tied two of them and it certainly keeps you motivated to want to get to that level. A lot of kids on our team have been on that edge of success and they are hungry for it.'The seven-player senior class has participated in the playoffs in two of their previous three years. The rest of the team is young as only one junior is on the roster along with seven sophomores and nine freshmen.'The 2004 season is going to be an interesting one for us because we have a very interesting mix of experience on our team,' Gallimore explained. 'We have a very top-loaded and bottom-loaded team, we have sixteen freshmen and sophomores with very little game experience and eight team members that have a ton of experience and have all played a significant amount since their freshman year. This year is going to be a tale of how well youth and experience can mix and how quickly.'I think talent-wise we could be as good as any team we've had. We have some talented kids on our team, particularly our returners who have had a lot of game experience.'Although just five primary starters return, Washington's roster includes nine players that have started at least four games during a season. In total, 14 letterwinners are back.Highlighting the list of returning talent is the potent one-two scoring punch of senior Tina Frimpong and junior Kim Taylor. The two All-Pac-10 performers combined for 18 goals and 12 assists in 2003.'Kim and Tina are good players and they play off of each other very well. They are two totally different types of players and they are great to have on the front line.'FORWARDSFrimpong is a legitimate All-America candidate who shared Pac-10 Player of the Year honors with UCLA defender Nandi Pryce. Frimpong led the conference with 13 goals in 2003. Her 27 career tallies are seven shy of the school career record of 34 goals established by current UW assistant coach Tami Bennett.'Tina wants to have her best year ever at Washington during her senior year, but that will be tough to do to top last year. She is not going to sneak up on anybody, but that is also the beauty of our team because our team is not geared around Tina. There are plenty of other capable people, so if they want to send one to three players to her than I really think that we have enough good players at other attacking positions to make up for it.'One of those other attacking players is Taylor, an honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection in 2003. She scored five goals and distributed eight assists last year.'Kim has a great attitude and she has so many aspects to her game. Kim does so much of the work load out front for us and she provides so much emotional lift for our team when she plays because she cares so much. The way she trains in the off-season and the way that she trains in practice and how much she wants to be better herself and make the team better.'A potential impact player could emerge in the form of sophomore Alec Mills. She netted two goals in limited time last season.'Nobody shoots harder than her on our team. If she can prove in practice that she can be consistent about holding the ball and getting shots off, then she is going to be a nice surprise for us.'The forward line is bolstered by the return of sophomores Shannon Dillon and Katie Johnson along with freshmen Colby Branham and Katy Dowling.MIDFIELDERSThe position undergoing the largest turnover is the midfield. Gone are longtime starters Jaime Carstensen, Melissa Bennett and Dana Dibble. The lone holdover is senior Nikki Gamble who will direct the team from her center midfield position. Gamble had two goals and two assists as a Husky last season after transferring from Iowa State.'She is so skillful and she covers so much space with great vision and she is a work horse. She is a player that has to have the ball a lot for us, so we are excited about playing her there and we played her there in the spring and she looked good.'Vying for starting spots in the midfield are seniors Cassie Giles and Kelley Schweighart who both battled injuries throughout their careers.'If our midfield is healthy, Kelley Schweighart, Nikki Gamble and Cassie Giles are good players. I think Kelley Schweighart is regaining her form of confidence in the attack and she is clearly one of our best defending midfield players.'Schweighart tallied one goal and three assists last season. She started eight games and Giles drew five starts.Sophomore Whitney Fenton will also factor into the midfield picture after an impressive spring showing.Two highly regarded freshmen will battle for starting berths in the midfield, Dana Johnson and Dani Bridges. Johnson played in the prestigious McDonald's All-America game. Bridges is also slated for forward duty.'Dana Johnson is just a flat out soccer player. She is a lot like Nikki Gamble in her work rate and her ability to cover the field with her skillfulness with the ball,' remarked Gallimore adding that Dani Bridges is 'as good as they come as far as on the dribble and attacking.'Two other freshmen, Robin Alexander and Sophie Spickard, are also poised for playing time in the midfield.DEFENDERSWashington's defense features two three-year starters in seniors Nicole Martinez and Kelli Smith. The veteran duo, with 105 career starts between them, anchors a unit that posted eight shutouts last season while yielding less than one goal per game (0.91).Martinez is a fine athlete who has been positioned in the center of the defense since her sophomore season. Smith has appeared on the outside of the defense since her arrival.'Nicole is a gamer and she is going back for her final year at center back. Her speed, her touch, her timing on tackles, just her ability to get it done every day is really irreplaceable for us,' Gallimore said.''It is going out on a limb to say this, because of all the great players on our team, but Smitty really is our best soccer player. She definitely knows what needs to happen, she's vocal about it and she gets everyone organized.'A fixture in the midfield her first three years, Clare Rustad moves to defender for her senior season. That is not a foreign position for Rustad who earned 24 caps for international appearances with the Canadian National Team as a defender.Rustad is an imposing presence who is strong in the air and will be available the entire collegiate season. She missed parts of her previous three years due to national team commitments.The other outside defensive position is open for competition. The inside track for the starting job goes to sophomore Shaela Ward who looks to be a mainstay on the defensive flank for the next three years. Ward saw limited action last fall, but showed well in the spring session.Also vying for time on defense are freshmen Dana Stirn and Whitney Clark.'Dana Stirn is a very good left-footed player and she plays well on the left side. is really tenacious as a defender and just her attitude shows that she is not going to be intimidated by the level.'Sophomore Robyn Shelby looks to get on the field after red-shirting last season due to injury.'The solid group of Smitty, Nicole and Clare out back helps us because Kelsey Rasmussen is going to be as good a keeper as we have had.'GOALKEEPERSSophomore Kelsey Rasmussen takes over the goalkeeping chores on a full-time basis after sharing time with Lisa Brookens last fall. Rasmussen compiled a phenomenal 0.55 goals against average while shutting out three opponents while participating in two other shutouts. She surrendered just three goals in seven games, including four starts.'With the exception of Hope Solo, Kelsey, early on, probably shows the most promise out of any keeper that we have had. She has terrific training habits and a terrific attitude towards the game.'UW's other goalkeeper is freshman Lizzy Showman, a product of Seattle Prep High School.'I think that Lizzy Shoman is going to be a great backup her freshman year and she is very anxious to learn. She has a great training partner in Kelsey Rasmussen and a great coach in Amy Griffin. The expectation is that she has a ton of potential and if we need to play her we will be comfortable doing that.'Both shot stoppers have the luxury of training with assistant coach Amy Griffin (formerly Allmann) who was a goalkeeper on the U.S. National Team (1987-1991).THE SCHEDULEThis year's schedule won't be easy as UW meets 11 opponents that participated in the 2003 NCAA Tournament, including semifinalist UCLA. The Huskies encounter seven teams listed in the Soccer America preseason rankings, four of them top-10 team.The opening three games are against No. 9 Penn State, No. 18 Ohio State and No. 8 Tennessee. UW also visits No. 6 Portland and plays No. 10 UCLA, No. 14 Stanford and No. 20 Arizona State.SUMMARYThe senior class will have a lot to say about the Huskies' success in 2004.'There are enough seniors where there is always that sense of urgency to get it done,' Gallimore concludes. ' With as good a game as we played in the first round of the playoffs against Nebraska last year, with as good a team as we had and as good a game we played, it was a little bit of a let down for them and they just don't want to see that happen again.'While the seniors have one final season to leave a legacy, their coach has already left her mark.'I know this is the job that I want to be in and I know that Washington is the place that I want to be, I have been really fortunate to work here for this long and really build something that is special. We have been totally embraced by the community, the players and the coaching staff, and this is a great soccer city.'