The Next Chapter

Aug. 25, 2004

First-year head coach Chris Kouns will rely on 18 years of playing and coaching experience to try and return the Dolphins to the top of the Atlantic Sun Conference - where they have spent the majority of the past six seasons. With just five starters and 12 letterwinners returning, it might prove to be a tall task for the former Atlantic Sun and Ivy League assistant.

The Dolphins will have to fill the void of their top two scorers, Ranvieg Aas-Hanssen and Inge Heiremans, who combined for 29 goals and 13 assists last season en route to First-Team Atlantic Sun All-Conference honors. Kouns will lean on JU's lone senior, Lauren Starmer, to provide leadership and direction to a young team which features just four upperclassmen on the 21-player roster. Amber Otto, one of the squad's three juniors, will also be counted on to help instill confidence and enthusiasm to one of the league's most inexperienced teams.

"This will be a defining year for this team," said Kouns, who spent last season as an assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. "Not only are we trying to rebound from a tough season, but we are also adjusting to a new coaching style and establishing new leaders."

The Dolphins' biggest void will be up front after losing 75 percent of last year's goals and 62 percent of the team's assists from 2003. Sophomore Jenny Borschel will help ease the transition after finishing third on the squad with 11 points (4g, 3a) a year ago. Redshirt freshman Stephanie Elgie could prove to be a huge spark to the frontline after missing all of last season with a knee injury. She has shown signs of being back to her old self, when she scored 27 goals as a senior with her London (Ontario) United team.

True freshman Jess Newport will also provide scoring up front after posting a school-record 16 goals and 24 assists as a high school senior in New Jersey.

Freshmen Courtney Eppleman and Ashley Pinkerton will also contribute with their athleticism as they make the transition to the speed of the college game.

The deepest area of the team will be the midfield, where Amber Otto's leadership will play a key role. The junior moves back to the midfield on a full-time basis after spending parts of last season in goal. Her fitness and technical ability will give the Dolphins a sturdy presence in the middle.

Sophomores Hilary Bricken, Debbie Arias and Jenny Borschel should be much improved after starting nearly every game as true freshmen. Borschel tied for second on the squad with three assists a year ago, while Bricken's three goals ranked fourth on the team in 2003. Arias played in all 18 matches, scoring a pair of goals and dishing out an assist.

Freshman Malin Hultquist could have the greatest impact of the newcomers in the midfield. The former Swedish Junior National Team player will be counted on to help ease the scoring burden. Fellow freshmen Eppleman, Emilie Howland and Sarah Patterson will also look to contribute off of the bench.

Lauren Starmer, the team's lone senior, will need to provide guidance to an otherwise young and inexperienced back line. Having started 49-of-54 games over the past three seasons, Starmer's experience will be a key in the development of the defense. She is also the team's lone holdover from the 2002 squad, which won 15 games and advanced to the championship game of the Atlantic Sun Tournament.

Sophomores Morgan Marinell, Ashley Reilly and Meagan Surrency earned valuable experience in 2003, and will provide depth in the back. Marinell started 15 games as a true freshman, while Reilly and Surrency both played in 16-of-18 matches a year ago. Freshmen Marissa Bernard, Daniela Davila and Louisa Ward will also have an opportunity to make an impact in their first season.

The Dolphins have lacked a true, full-time goalkeeper the past three seasons. That is no longer a problem with the addition of former East Carolina keeper Michelle Kmiotek, who joined the Dolphins last spring. She recorded five shutouts with a 0.66 goals-against-average as a freshman at ECU and helped lead the Pirates to the semifinals of the 2003 Conference USA Championship. A natural shot stopper and excellent athlete, Kmiotek will instantly help boost the Dolphins' level of confidence.

Junior Jennifer O'Malley will look to push Kmiotek for time in goal after playing in five matches a year ago.

When Kouns took over the reigns of the Dolphin program, he was greeted with a challenging schedule which features non-conference contests against Florida State, Miami, USF, Tulane and Air Force. JU will also be challenged once Atlantic Sun Conference play begins, with road games at Lipcomb and Belmont to open league play. If the Dolphins can weather the early challenges, they will benefit from having five of the final eight A-Sun games at the Ashley Sports Complex, where JU has lost just six times in the last four seasons.