Aug. 23, 2006
Clemson returns 14 letter winners and seven starters from a 9-9-2 team that advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 12th consecutive season. The Lady Tigers have been to every NCAA Tournament since the program was started in the 1994 season, one of just six programs in the nation that can make that claim. That includes a streak of five straight NCAA tournament appearances under Bramble.
Clemson’s key losses from last season include four-time All-ACC perfomer Allison Graham and Lydia Vandenbergh, both midfielders. Graham was the top scorer for the Lady Tigers last season with seven goals and nine assists for 23 points, while Vandenbergh was fourth on the team in points scored. She was one of five Lady Tigers to start all 20 matches last season.
Clemson had an excellent recruiting year and will welcome 10 newcomers to the program. The coaching staff was very happy with the results of their efforts.
“These young ladies will fit in perfectly here at Clemson,” said Bramble. “I can’t wait to see the contributions they will make to our soccer program. In a year in which we don’t lose a large number of players to graduation, we have managed to attract 10 players that will clearly raise the competitive level of our program. I know they are all excited to join our program and I am equally as excited to welcome this class.”
Clemson has another tough schedule in store for the 2006 season. Clemson will open the 2006 season on August 25, as the Lady Tigers play host to Alabama-Birmingham. After playing Colorado on September 1, and Denver in Boulder, CO on September 3, Clemson will play in the Carolina’s Cup in Greenville, SC on September 9 & 11. Clemson will play Furman and Charlotte in the tournament. Clemson will play at rival South Carolina on September 15, in Columbia. Clemson will open the ACC segment of the schedule on Thursday, September 21 at Maryland and will travel to Boston College on Sunday, September 24, on the same road trip. Clemson will play host to perennial power North Carolina on Thursday, September 28.
In the month of October, Clemson will play host to Francis Marion, Virginia, Wake Forest and N.C. State. During October, Clemson will be on the road at ACC foes Virginia Tech, Miami, Duke and Florida State. The regular season concludes with the ACC Tournament November 1-5 at SAS Soccer Park in Cary, NC.
Goalkeeper Clemson returns junior starter Ashley Phillips in goal. A preseason All-American for 2006 by Soccer America, Phillips started 19 matches for the Lady Tigers and had a 1.37 GAA with 93 saves last season. Phillips earned second-team All-ACC honors and was named first-team All-Southeast by the NSCAA.
Phillips, a native of West Peabody, MA, had six shutouts last year to rank among the ACC leaders and she will be looked upon as one of the team leaders this year. She burst on the Clemson soccer scene as a freshman when she had nine saves in a season opening 1-0 victory at Texas, then had five saves in a 4-1 win at Texas A&M. She is the only goal keeper in Clemson women’s soccer history to record consecutive road wins over top 10 teams.
Defenders The Lady Tigers are experienced and solid on defense, as Clemson returns all four starters in the back as Amber Funk, Molly Johnson, Kelly Schneider, and Britten Meyer are the veterans. “We have been working hard the make sure we are a strong team defensively,” said Bramble. That is the foundation of any team.” Clemson allowed just 26 goals in 20 games a year ago.
Funk (Senior) started 14 matches while Molly Johnson (Sophomore) started all 20 matches as a freshman, the only freshman who could make that claim last year. Schneider (senior), a former forward, did an excellent job playing in the back and started all 20 matches last season. She can go forward and score goals as well, as shown by her three goals last year.
Britten Meyer (Senior) is a dependable starter and proved to be a consistent performer for the Lady Tigers last season. Meyer had three goals and four assists last season when she finished third on the team in points scored. Newcomer Nikki McEachern (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) and red-shirt sophomore Logan Hull will be looking to break into the line-up in the defense.
Midfield Clemson was hit hard in the midfield with graduation of Graham and Vandenbergh and the loss of starter Candice Hein. Julie Bolt (sophomore) is the lone starter returning from 2005. Bolt finished the year with one goal from her wide midfield position after playing in all 20 matches, including 14 as a starter.
The return of junior Elizabeth Jobe is certainly a bright spot in the midfield this year. The former Parade All-American started the first six matches last year, but was lost for the season due to a knee injury. Clemson had a 4-1-1 record with Jobe in the lineup, including a victory over South Carolina. She started all 20 matches as a freshman when she made the All-ACC freshman team and was an honorable mention freshman All-American.
Clemson recruited this position with a purpose during the off-season. Newcomers Christy Barrow (St. Simons Island, GA), Jennifer Ficklen (Fort Mill, SC) Molly Franklin (Frederick, MD), Lindsey Jackson (Raleigh, NC) and Katie Vogel (Marietta, GA) will vie for the available positions this year.
Forward Courtney Foster (Senior) is Clemson’s top returning player up top. Foster finished her junior season with four goals and four assists for 12 points, second on the team behind Graham’s 23 points. She has been named second-team All-ACC each of the last three years and is certainly a candidate to move to first-team status in 2006. Foster has 27 career goals and 15 career assists, high marks among active Tigers in both categories.
Fraser Gerth is another returnee who played in 18 matches, all as a reserve in 2005, and had one goal and one assist for three points.
Newcomers, Lily Boleyn (Ellicott City, MD), Danielle Schmitt (Fort Mill, SC), along with transfers Meghan Smith (Centennial, CO), and Nuria Zufia (Pamplona, Spain) will be competing for playing time up front.
Smith is a transfer from Iowa State who had success against strong teams from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the Big 12. Zufia was a starter for the Under-20 National team of Spain in the recent Youth World Games in Thailand.
“While we will need the early part of the season to answer some questions with our new players, we certainly have the talent and depth in place to become a very good team,” concluded Bramble. “The challenge for the coaching staff will be to figure out how to best utilize the different skills the newcomers bring within our system. The challenge then for the players is how quickly can they work to learn about all of our new personalities and develop great team chemistry.
“I do know our seniors have reported back to campus with a sense of urgency and determination that they want to make this a special season.”
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