Thursday, September 30, 2004


Rice, Hawaii could
push SMU

Southern Methodist has won three consecutive Western Athletic Conference women's soccer championships in the postseason tournament and four of the last five. The conference coaches picked them to repeat this year in their annual preseason poll.

The Mustangs have dominated the league since joining the WAC in 1996, losing three of 49 regular-season matches.

The top contenders to dethrone SMU, ranked No. 16 in the weekly Soccer Buzz Top 30 poll, are Texas-El Paso and two teams that meet tomorrow. Hawaii and Rice have a 7 p.m. match at the Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park Stadium.

"We are all in it," UH coach Pinsoom Tenzing said of the WAC race. "I haven't seen them play, but from the results I conjecture that they are all balanced and will be successful.

"SMU has played much stronger teams, even stronger than us."

The Owls can score (26 goals in 10 matches). But it is their stingy defense, featuring seniors Caitlin Currie and Becky MacAllister and junior Erin Droeger in front of senior goalkeeper Lauren Shockley, that sets a frustrating, match tempo for opponents.

Shockley has six complete-match shutouts and a goals-against average of 0.30. The WAC defensive player of the week (Sept. 20-26), Shockley's all-time GAA is tops on the conference career list.

The team goals-against average is also 0.30, best in the WAC. UH is second at 0.73.

"From past performances, the Owls are very strong defensively," Tenzing said. "They put a lot of pressure on the ball and have a corps that has played together since their freshman year.

"They are a tremendous heading team and that concerns me because it shows their commitment to the ball. I think we can compete in the air. They may not look it, but they are a very fast team. Their defenders can keep up for 10, 15 yards, even with Natasha Kai."

The Rainbow Wahine (7-2-2) lost senior outside right midfielder Natalie Groenewoud for the season with an ankle injury and had other players get banged up and miss matches. The injuries have allowed Tenzing to develop more depth.

Sophomore midfielder Kelly McCloskey, and freshman defenders Lehua Wood and Shawn Higa have performed well coming off the bench.

In the all-time series, UH leads against Nevada (4-0), Tulsa (4-1), Boise State (3-1-1), UTEP (3-2) and Fresno State (4-3-1). The series with Rice (3-3) and San Jose State (4-4-1) are tied. The Wahine trail against SMU (0-6-1).

Here is a capsule look at the WAC teams in the order they play Hawaii with the overall record in parentheses:

Rice (7-1-2)

Coach: Chris Huston, sixth year, 51-47-7 (.520).
2003 WAC record: 6-2-0.
Players to watch: Lauren Shockley, senior goalkeeper; Clory Martin, freshman striker; Angela Aaker, junior midfielder; Caitlin Currie, senior defender.
Outlook: The Owls reached the WAC Tournament championship game a year ago after upsetting UH in the semifinal round. They won nine of their last 11 matches to finish third in the conference and have continued that success this year. The Owls are averaging 2.6 goals per match. The defense has been outstanding, allowing three goals in 10 matches with seven shutouts.
Meets Hawaii: Tomorrow, 7 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.

Tulsa (3-6-2)

Coach: Rena Richardson, sixth season, 31-71-7 (.304).
2003 WAC record: 2-6-0.
Players to watch: Katie Ward, sophomore striker; Alexis Arment, senior defender; Jamie German, junior midfielder.
Outlook: The Golden Hurricane won just once, including four shutouts, in their first eight matches under new head coach Rena Richardson. They rebounded with victories over Northern Iowa and Louisiana-Lafayette last weekend and play Drury today before heading to Hawaii.
Meets Hawaii: Sunday, 5 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.

Southern Methodist (5-2-1)

Coach: John Cossaboon, eighth season, 95-48-9 (.664).
2003 WAC record: 7-1-0.
Players to watch: Amanda Clark, senior goalkeeper; Susanne Collins, sophomore defender; Autumn Browning, freshman midfielder.
Outlook: Krystal Bailey, a freshman striker, has softened the loss of Kim Harvey (28 goals last year) with a team-leading four goals. SMU has a balanced attack as Jill Heinemann, Erin MacCallum, Adria Campbell (Punahou) and Kimber Bailey all have three goals. The Mustangs prepared for WAC play with a tough nonconference schedule that included wins over Stanford and St. Mary's and a tie with Oklahoma.
Meets Hawaii: Oct. 8 at Dallas.

Texas-El Paso (7-2-0)

Coach: Kevin Cross, fourth season, 37-24-2 (.607).
2003 WAC record: 4-4-0.
Players to watch: Christine McCartney, sophomore midfielder; Brittany Popoff, freshman goalkeeper; Heather Clark, senior defender.
Outlook: The Miners have outscored their opponents 29-10 playing an average nonconference schedule. Both defeats have come in double overtime. McCartney set freshman records for goals (12) last year and leads UTEP with six goals. The team is young, just three seniors, but should have developed confidence with the nonconference games, which include a 4-1 road record.
Meets Hawaii: Oct. 10 at El Paso, Texas.

Nevada (2-6-1)

Coach: Terri Patraw, sixth season, 52-49-4 (.515).
2003 WAC record: 1-7-0.
Players to watch: Annie Baxter, junior striker; Lauren Kinneman, sophomore midfielder; Jessica Wilcox, freshman midfielder.
Outlook: The Wolf Pack return eight starters from a team that posted a school-record four wins in 2003. Leading scorer Kristin Anderson is back, as is Baxter, who sat out last year with a back injury after setting the single-season scoring record with seven goals in 2002. The Pack lost their first six matches, then started to turn the season around with two victories and a tie and improving defense. That is the longest undefeated streak in the program's five-year history.
Meets Hawaii: Oct. 15, 7 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.

Boise State (6-4-0)

Coach: Steve Lucas, fifth season, 33-45-5 (.423).
2003 WAC record: 4-4-0.
Players to watch: Cassidy Temple, senior defender; BreeAnn Milligan, senior striker; Kim Parker, sophomore goalkeeper.
Outlook: The Broncos have scored just nine goals in 10 matches, despite having three of their top four scorers back. However, they have six victories, five of them shutouts recorded by a defense that has a 0.89 goals-against average. Lisa Balsama, a freshman striker, is the top scorer with three goals. No one else has more than one.
Meets Hawaii: Oct. 17, 5 p.m., Waipio Peninsula Soccer Park.

Fresno State (3-5-1)

Coach: Steve Springthorpe, sixth season, 90-33-6 (.732).
2003 WAC record: 4-4-0.
Players to watch: Kortney Lewis, junior striker; Regina Esparza, senior defender; Cortney Sobrero, sophomore striker.
Outlook: Springthorpe, in his first season at FSU, signed 10 players and only has seven upperclassmen on his 22-player roster. The youthful Bulldogs scored 11 goals in winning three consecutive matches earlier this month, then were blanked by No. 13 California and Cal State Northridge. However, FSU has a history of playing very well in October (22-13-2 over the past four seasons). Sobrero is one of the league's top scorers with seven goals and two assists for 16 points.
Meets Hawaii: Oct. 22 at Fresno, Calif.

San Jose State (2-7-0)

Coach: Dave Siracusa, first year, 2-7-0 (.222).
2003 WAC record: 1-7-0.
Players to watch: Christina Morrison, senior striker; Adrienne Herbst, junior goalkeeper; Andrea Puljiz, sophomore midfielder.
Outlook: Siracusa brought in 15 freshmen to start revitalizing a team that went 2-16 last year. The Spartans' offense is barely producing a goal per match, putting a lot of pressure on the defense. However, last year's win total has been equaled. Whether the Spartans escape another last-place finish depends on how this young team matures the rest of the season.
Meets Hawaii: Oct. 24 at San Jose, Calif.



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