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Women’s Soccer Preview

September 9, 1998

Never before has the Clemson women’s soccer team had it so good.

The 1998 squad will feature the most talented, deepest squad yet in the brief, but successful Lady Tiger soccer program.

1998  Clemson Quick Facts:    Starters Returning:   9     Starters Lost:  2           Letterwinners Returning:  14        Letterwinners Lost:  12    1997 Overall Record: 15-7-0    ACC Record/Finish:  4-3-0/T-Third    Final National Rank:  10th in    Soccer America, 10th in  the ISAA   

With the return of nine starters from the 1997 Final Eight team and a cast of talented newcomers, it’s no wonder that Head Coach Tracey Leone is more than optimistic.

“We are lucky to be in the position we are in because our first senior class left a great legacy and tradition that we have been able to build upon,” said Leone. The Lady Tigers have been to the NCAA Tournament each year in the four-year history of the program. In addition, the Lady Tigers have been ranked in 44 straight polls since the middle of the 1994 season, the first year that Clemson fielded a women’s soccer team.

“We have a lot of starters returning. This core returning was able to train together for the entire spring, which was really nice. We used to be inexperienced, young, and the ‘new kid on the block’ and we had to build our leadership every year. Now we are at the point where we are very experienced. We will have our most experienced team yet, and our senior class is going to be incredibly talented, and they are going to have a big impact on and off the field.

Our leadership has come a long way and it continues to improve. Everything is starting to fall into place for our program.”

Clemson advanced to the NCAA Tournament’s Final Eight last season after wins over Georgia and UNC-Greensboro in the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at Clemson. The Lady Tigers lost to Santa Clara in California 3-0 for the right to advance to the Final Four and finished the season with a 15-7 record overall and a 4-3 mark in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference.

The record was quite an accomplishment, because of the 15 wins, six were achieved against top-25 teams.

One challenge that the Lady Tigers have facing them is the lack of an experienced goalkeeper. Gone from last year’s team are Suzanne Putnam (0.96 GAA) and Meredith McCullen (1.44 GAA).

“We have a large recruiting class and we are also trying to replace what we will be losing after this season. We are in the position where our freshmen are going to be challenged and are going to have to fight to break into the lineup. We will have the most experienced 10 field players we have ever had, and we will have a very young, but great goalkeeping group.”

Clemson scored 47 goals last year and this total should be improved with the top four scorers returning.

“We should be an even better goal scoring team. It should be very similar to last year’s team but hopefully better. With players like Jennifer Crawford, Sheri Bueter, Sara Burkett and Beth Keller returning to run the attack, we should be a very potent team

“With the return of Julie and Nancy Augustyniak, there should be even more punch to our attack. We will definitely be an attack-oriented team that is fun to watch, but at the same time we should be a very solid defensive team since our backs have played together for some time now.

“This year we may play three in the back and three up front. We are more capable this year since our backs have played zonally together for almost two years. We have a hard working team with excellent team speed. I also feel this team will be very athletic, the best we have ever had.

“We will be very good fundamentally. Technically we have improved so much and we added some very skillful players. The skill level continues to improve every year. Tactically our decision making has also come a long way. We were able to improve in the spring because we had the core group of our team at practice everyday. Everyone is talking about the fall, we are looking forward to the season. Enthusiasm is high and it should be.”

Clemson has another tough schedule in 1998. Last year the schedule was ranked the third toughest in the country, and many of the same opponents are listed for 1998. The Lady Tigers will also play host to the ACC-SEC Challenge in early October. Kentucky, South Carolina, William & Mary, Nebraska and Dartmouth are the non-conference opponents that compliment the Atlantic Coast Conference foes.

Goalkeepers

The position of goalkeeper will be very young, but the Lady Tigers have a cast of talented newcomers who should fill the void. The newcomers vying for the position include Katie Carson, Julie Podhrasky, and Troyann Gentile.

“Katie Carson is an All-America from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. She is very talented and has a great amount of potential. Katie has good height, great courage, and is extremely athletic. She adds a great quality to our team, because she can really strike a ball. Her ability with her feet is exceptional and will add another dimension to our team.”

Julie Podhrasky played on a very prestigious club team in Dallas, Texas. Last fall she was named MVP at the Nationally-recognized Orange Bowl Tournament, in Miami. “She has good height and is a solid shot stopper. She is good with her feet and very quick and athletic as well.”

Troyann Gentile is a transfer from Fresno State who will be a junior.

“She is a hard working player who will be wonderful asset to our team. Troyanne has some experience and has a great personality to be a good leader.”

“I feel very comfortable about our goalkeepers this fall and for the next few years. Since the beginning of our program we have had a group of hard working goalkeepers and I expect this to continue with this group. The biggest thing is to get our goalkeepers confidence and work them in our system as soon as possible. They have all the tools they need; they need time and experience and they will get that very quickly.”

DEFENDERS

Clemson features three starters in the back with Diana Akin (senior), Lindsay Massengale (senior), and Nancy Augustyniak (sophomore). This is the most experienced group the Lady Tigers have ever had in the back.

“We are very excited about our defenders and our players we have returning. We also experimented with Amy Gray in the back this past spring and we really liked what we saw. Diana Akin has been wonderful in the back on either side and she opens our game up really well. She has great service and range and has a lot of experience. Diana is very athletic and has been a mainstay in the back.”

Lindsay Massengale made all-conference last year and started all 22 games for the Lady Tigers.

“Lindsay is very athletic and has great leadership. She can serve the ball with either foot and can read the game incredibly well. She is without question one of the best defenders in the nation.”

Nancy Augustyniak and Amy Gray (senior) are expected to see a great amount of time in the back also. Nancy started 20 games for the Tigers last year. Amy Gray saw action in every game and was a huge addition to last year’s team. Both are very athletic and possess a great soccer mentality.

“Nancy is a great defender and is very skillful. We like Amy Gray in the back, which allows us to push Nancy into the midfield. She is a great goal scorer and adds a great deal to our attack. We have a lot of flexibility because Nancy and Amy can both play and start at wing back or wing midfield.”

Other players returning include Sami Butke (senior) and Tricia Williams (freshman). Butke saw limited action but improved considerably according to the coaching staff. “Sami has learned the position well and has an incredible work rate. She challenges her opponents every minute on the field and is a nice addition to the back.”

Tricia Williams red-shirted the 1997 season and recovered from ACL surgery. She can play in the back or the midfield.

“Tricia is very quick and closes)

A space defensively very well. She has an incredible vertical jump, which allows her to have a very good heading presence. Tricia also is a great personality for us.”

Two players Clemson signed during the recruiting process include: Tiffany Lambert (Atlanta, GA) and Louisa Boyle (Stone Mountain, GA).

“Tiffany Lambert can play center defender or central midfield. She has an unbelievable attitude and desire. Tiffany also has a great work rate and is a very skillful player.

“Louisa has good speed, great toughness. Her technical ability is also very good. She is a central defender or wing back. Tiffany and Louisa add depth to our defense and are players of the future.”

MIDFIELDERS

Clemson has one of the most talented midfields in the country as Sara Burkett (senior), Alison Burpee (junior), Beth Keller (junior), and Julie Augustyniak (sophomore) return.

Burkett has been named first-team All-ACC for three straight years. Last year, she had eight goals and 12 assists for 28 points. She led the team in assists and was second on the squad with total points. Beth Keller started 21 games for the Lady Tigers last season. She finished the season with two goals and four assists for eight points.

“Sara Burkett is one of the best if not the best player in the country. Last year she had an extraordinary year-she did everything for us-she is our center piece. Sara is a quiet leader for us, the brains behind the machine. Beth Keller is a great compliment player to Sara. Sara and Beth are starting to play together well both offensively and defensively. They are one of the best duos in the country. Beth is an awesome player in the air, maybe the best in the country. She helps us possess the ball and is a threat going forward.”

Julie Augustyniak started 20 games as a freshman. She scored two goals last year.

“Julie is a left sided player who improved dramatically in the spring on defense. She is very fast, very skillful, and good in the air. Julie is a very talented player who can play and create on the left side. She has great heart, and she has the ability to get behind defenses to finish or serve.”

Burpee was moved to a forward position in the spring.

Another returnee is Lea Shreve (sophomore) who played in 20 matches in 1997.

“Lea Shreve is a very talented front runner and has great promise in the midfield. She is very good at running at the defense. Lea is very skillful, versatile and strong. She is great at serving that final ball.

“Leigh Clark has a beautiful left sided service and is very good on the ball. She will add some much-needed depth to our left side. Leigh could see time at left midfielder or left back.”

The newcomers include Christa Eberhart (Peachtree City, GA), Jenna Thompson (Greenwood, SC) and Kati Reid (Hilton Head, SC). Christa Eberhardt red-shirted last year after transferring from Vanderbilt.

“Christa is technically good and has been working very hard. She is recovering from shoulder surgery and should be 100% this fall. Kati Reid is very athletic and has great desire. She is an untapped player that has great potential. Thompson is a very tough, skillful player who is most comfortable as a central midfielder.”

FORWARDS

Clemson has two excellent strikers coming back to campus in Sheri Bueter (Senior) and Jennifer Crawford (Junior). Crawford scored a team high 17 goals, and had two assists for 36 points. Sheri Bueter scored five goals and had nine assists for 19 points.

“We are excited about our front runners. Jenny Crawford is one of the best goal scorers in the country. She has a knack for scoring goals. She has to be one of the best players in the box in the country. Jenny has great mentality and confidence that is so vital in her success.

“Bueter is an all-conference and All-South performer. She is our fastest player and opens up the game for us. She is extremely creative, and this spring, she became more of a goal-scoring threat. Every time she touches the ball she is dangerous and lethal.”

Alison Burpee (junior) was moved from the midfield to a forward position this past spring. Last year she started all 22 games and had one goal and six assists.

“Alison has been a great development for us. First of all, she has played every position on the field for us. She will do whatever her team needs her to do. We moved her up front in the spring, and we liked what she can offer us up top. Alison has an incredible attitude and tremendous fight. She is very fast and has great energy up front. Alison is very good at turning and running at the defense. Her effort and mentality are extraordinary.”

Libby King (junior) was the Lady Tigers’ fourth leading scorer a year ago. King scored two goals and had seven assists for 11 points.

“Libby King is around everything that happens. Every time we score it seems as if she is involved whether it is diving to save a ball or assisting the goal. She creates havoc and has an incredible work ethic. She was voted our unsung hero last year, and she is just that. She can play up top or flank midfielder.”

Two newcomers include Tatum Clowney (Greenville, SC) and Audra Sherman (Quebec, Canada).

“Tatum was voted Player of the Year in South Carolina and could play up top or possibly flank midfielder. She has a great service and is a good goal scorer with very good speed and athleticism.

“Audra is very fast and athletic and is powerful. She is going to be tough to handle. We are excited about her desire to play, and she possesses great potential.”

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