Women's Soccer Looks to 'Get It Done' in 2000

Sept. 15, 2000

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The attitude of the 2000 JU women's soccer team can be summed up in three words--get it done.

That is exactly what third-year head coach Mike Johnson expects his team to do. With the return of 14 experienced players from last year's TAAC runner-up squad, and the infusion of new talent, the Dolphins expect to make another run at the conference title and spot in the NCAA Tournament.

"I'm very optimistic about the potential of this team," Johnson says. "We've got so much depth and so many quality players, it's going to make us better every day in practice. And I think the players understand that the level of talent here now is higher than it has been in the past. Because we're so deep and competitive, I think that everything will fall into place. All spring, we just talked about winning a championship. Now, we're focusing on developing a championship attitude."

The championship attitude starts at the goalkeeper's position where JU has two players with a full season of experience under their belts. The starter will be redshirt sophomore Melissa Cancio, who missed all of 1999 with mononucleosis after starting as a freshman in 1998. Cancio started the final 14 matches of the year as a freshman, allowing only six goals in the final 11 games.

In her absence in 1999, true freshman Kristen Kirsch stepped in and started all 20 matches and played every minute for the Dolphins. She finished with the third best single-season goal against average in JU history (2.14), allowing 44 goals in 20 matches.

Keeping the pressure off the JU goalkeeper will be juniors Kathy Ciriello (co-captain), and Yvonna Rowinski, sophomores Tamsin Anstey and Julie Petrauskas and freshmen Tara Greggains and Hanni Wenzell.

Anstey, who returns after missing the 1999 season with a knee injury, should be a real boost to the JU defenders and Wenzell represents one of the most prize recruits to ever suit up for the women's soccer team after a three-sport standout prep career at Stanwood High in Camino, Wash.

"We were decimated by injuries at defender in 1999," Johnson says. "But with the healthy return of Tamsin and other experienced defenders, this should be a strength for us in 2000. We're very fast in the defense, and with the arrival of freshmen like Hanni and Tara, we should be very deep as well."

In the midfield, JU returns junior co-captain Trine Riis Groven who will lineup along senior Dianne Scott, sophomores Vanessa Illanes and Kristen Holstrom. Riis Groven ranks third all-time in the JU record book for goals (21), assists (15), points (57) and shots (120). Scott had three goals and one assist last season after transferring from Centenary, while Illanes moves back to her natural position after playing defender as a true freshman. Adding depth will be freshmen Erin Bitterli, Dianne Herlihy and Crystal Armstrong.

"The midfield should be very creative and explosive," Johnson says. "We have an attacking midfield and we've bolstered the center midfield position with Kristen and Erika. Trine gives us stability and leadership, as well as excellent vision and distribution. Meanwhile, Dianne, Vanessa and the freshmen give us a group of outside midfielders by committee that should make us very explosive."

Spearheading the JU offensive attack will be senior forwards Stine Kloster and Marit Foss. Foss is the school's all-time leader in points (104), shots (141) and assists (42), while tallying 31 goals. She led the nation in assists in 1998 with 20, and finished second in the NCAA last year with 0.80 assists per game. Kloster, meanwhile, ranks first all-time at JU in career goals (37), while ranking second in points (91) and shots (122).

"Stine and Marit are two of the top forwards in the South," Johnson says. "Together, they form one of the best attacks in the Southeast. With those two on the front line, we've got a chance to be beat anyone."

The Dolphins face a tough non-conference schedule in 2000, as well as the competitive TAAC slate. JU plays in four tournaments--FAU Kickoff Classic, UCF Tournament, Holiday Inn Invitational (Stony Brook, N.Y.) and JU/Nike Legends Classic--and faces 1999 NCAA Tournament participants Buffalo and UCF. Other notables on the Dolphins' schedule include Big East opponent Miami and Florida State from the ACC.

"Our schedule is designed to play some of the top teams in our region, as well as the nation," Johnson says. "Between games against Buffalo, Florida State and Miami, and a tough league schedule, we feel like we can work our way into the NCAA Tournament."