With a large veteran group returning this fall, and injuries fully healed, Clemson Head Coach Todd Bramble looks for another successful season.
“More than anything, I want us to be consistent. I know we can be good, but I want us to be consistently good!” said Bramble. “Last year we were up and down early, then just when we got rolling, we were decimated with injuries. That meant we were juggling our lineup from game to game down the stretch, and it was clearly difficult for the players.”
Clemson returns eight starters and 16 letterwinners from the 2002 squad who participated in another NCAA Tournament and finished with a 14-8 record. The 2002 squad also advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Finals.
Bramble, who is entering his third season has another challenging schedule for the Lady Tigers in 2003. “Once again, our strength of schedule rating will be among the highest in the nation. Twelve of our 20 opponents were NCAA Tournament participants last fall.
“We will be tested early, and those games will prepare us to play our difficult conference schedule. Paying a visit to historic Riggs Field will be the likes of; Texas A&M, Texas, FSU, Duke, UVA, and our archrival South Carolina. Just as challenging, will be our road schedule where we will face; Cal-St. Fullerton, San Diego, Furman, Maryland, UNC and Wake Forest.”
Goalkeeper Lauren Heos (SO) emerged as the starter for the Lady Tigers last season having played in 14 matches. She finished the season with 55 saves and allowed 21 goals for a 1.50 goals allowed average. Leigh Ann Harrison (SR) started eight matches for the Lady Tigers last season. She finished the year giving up 14 goals and had a 1.75 goals allowed average. Harrison finished the year with 33 saves.
Also vying for playing time is Lauren Whitt, a transfer from Vanderbilt. “The goal keeping position will once again be wide open at the beginning of preseason. Leigh Ann Harrison and freshman Sarah McClurgh both had a very productive spring season. The addition of Lauren Whitt will only add to the overall quality of our goalkeepers.”
Backs The Lady Tigers suffered many injuries in the back last season and this no doubt disrupted the Clemson defense with different lineups throughout the season. Back from last year is Sarah Turner (JR), Kate Clifton (JR), Kristen Procopio Allen (JR), Tanya Peterson (SR) and Jenny Anderson (JR).
Turner, a two-year starter saw action in 21 matches. She had two goals and two assists for six points. Clifton started 19 matches and finished the year with one assist. Allen, who was injured in the latter stages of the season, started 17 matches for the Lady Tigers. Peterson also started nine matches. Anderson started only eight matches, as her season was cut short due to injuries.
Britten Meyer is a freshman from Greenville, SC who will join the Lady Tigers this fall.
“Even though we did not graduate any defenders, competition for the starting spots will be intense. Because of our injuries in the fall, some inexperienced players have stepped up and gotten valuable playing time. We have six or seven players who are capable of starting in the back and the addition of Britten Meyer sure makes things interesting. We should be solid and deep in the back.”
Midfield Clemson returns two starters to the midfield with Allison Graham (SO) , and Allison Mitchell (SR) anchoring down this position. Graham had an excellent freshman year having started 19 matches and ending the year with three goals and seven assists for 13 points, fourth place on the Lady Tiger squad. Mitchell started all 22 matches last year and had one goal and four assists for six points.
Lydia Vandenbergh (SO) played in 20 matches and finished the year with three assists.
The Lady Tigers added Amanda Garcia from Roswell, GA in the midfield.
“The shape of our mid-field and consequently our forward line will be determined by who reports to preseason ready to do the most damage from an attacking standpoint. We will have to sort out whether or not we will play with wide midfielders and this will determine whether we play with two or three forwards. Allison Graham made huge strides in the spring improving her athleticism and Allison Mitchell is the returning MVP of our team.”
“Lydia Vandenbergh should see considerable playing time and red-shirt freshman Candice Hein had some good moments for us this past spring. We are very hopeful that Amanda Garcia can quickly adapt to the fitness demands of a college midfielder as she has the talent to be an impact player this fall.”
Forward Clemson was hard hit in this area with the loss of ACC Player-of-the-Year Deliah Arrington (18 goals and seven assists). She also finished her career as Clemson’s all-time leading scorer. However, Lindsay Brown (SR) is back and finished the season with six goals and 10 assists for 22 points. Paige Ledford (JR) also returns as she scored two goals and had seven assists for 11 points in 2002. Kelly Schneider is a talented incoming freshman from Mauldin, SC.
“Going into the season with Paige Ledford is comforting as they are both experienced attacking players. Additionally, we were fortunate to have Courtney Foster join our squad in the spring, and she proved she will be able to contribute immediately as a goal scoring threat. We also have a bonus with Kelly Schneider who is extremely athletic and versatile. She will be vying for playing time immediately at several different positions.” “Although replacing Deliah is seemingly impossible, I hope that it will lead to a more balanced scoring attack as we will no longer be relying on just one player.”
“We are cautiously optimistic about the 2003 campaign. All the pieces of the puzzle appear to be in place for a successful season, we will just have to quickly find how they will best fit together and keep our fingers crossed that we will stay healthy throughout the season.”
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