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Optimism Peaking Heading Into 2000

Optimism Peaking Heading Into 2000

Aug. 3, 2000

Clemson, S.C. – The 2000 Clemson women’s soccer team will be very competitive with a cast of seasoned veterans and an excellent group of newcomers vying for the starting positions. Clemson returns nine starters from a team that finished 14-7-2 overall, and 4-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Lady Tigers also finished sixth in the NSCAA Coaches’ poll and advanced to the NCAA Final Eight. The #6 finish last year was the best in Clemson’s brief but noteworthy history.

“This will be the deepest team we have ever had,” said Clemson Head Coach Ray Leone. “The first task we must accomplish right away is connecting the freshmen to the rest of the team. This team is very close, and if we can establish a solid relationship between the freshmen and the rest of the team in the preseason, we should have a great season.

“It is always hard to set goals, but obviously, we want to go to the NCAA’s Final Four and win the ACC. The ACC is the hardest league in the country. First and foremost we want to be the best we possibly can and this is something we can control with hard work and dedication.

“I think this year we will be more competitive in practice and this will benefit us more. We are still building the program and competition is what makes players better. Being a returning starter at Clemson will be harder this season beacuse the newcomers will push the older players. The team will practice at a higher level of competition. Last spring was the best we have had as far as intensity and commitment.

“The strong points this season will be on defense. Defending is a strong area of pride for our team. They take great pride in shutting people down. I also think we are going to be more potent offensively than the previous year. However, our lack of offense has a lot had to do with the injuries we sustained last year. We only scored one goal in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament and advanced to the NCAA’s Final Eight. This was a credit to our defense.

“We are very proud of Tracey (Leone) for being the head coach of the United States U16 National Team and assisting with the entire National Team program. This is a great opportunity for Tracey. She is on a leave of absence from Clemson and will return when her stint is up with them. It is wonderful that she was recognized because of her success at Clemson. Tracey is a great developer of talent, something she has proven since her arrival at Clemson.

“Our schedule will again be very tough -very similar to last year when it was ranked second toughest in the nation. A total of 13 of the 18 schools we play went to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament or were ranked in the last two years. It will be another killer schedule but we like to compete against the best.”

GOALKEEPERS Clemson will be very solid in goal with the return of two-year starter Katie Carson (junior). Freshman Leigh Ann Harrison (Simpsonville, SC) will be joining Carson this fall.

Carson finished the season with a 0.74 goal allowed average. She also had 109 saves, and had two games last season when she had 16 saves in each game. She started all 23 games and her save total was a school record.

“Carson is the most improved player on our team. She is still improving and she still hasn’t reached her full potential. She is a fantastic presence in the box. Her punting, passing, and foot skills have improved tremendously. Katie has great range and she is not afraid to come out of the box. She is very aggressive. Her command in the box in the air is her biggest asset.”

Leigh Ann Harrison is from Mauldin (SC) High School. She was an all-state goalkeeper. “Leigh Ann is very tall and has a good presence for a young keeper. I think she will develop quickly into a high level collegiate goalkeeper.”

DEFENDERS Clemson’s defense should be one of the strong points on the 2000 squad. Led by sisters, Julie and Nancy Augustyniak (seniors), the defense should be the best ever for the Lady Tigers.

“Nancy and Julie are two of the best backs in the nation,” said Leone. “Nancy will anchor the center of the defense, while Julie usually plays on the left side. Both players have great composure and their athleticism is incredible.”

Nancy started all 23 games last season and had two goals and two assists. Julie also started all 23 games and had one goal and two assists. Audria Lyons (sophomore) started all 23 games mostly in the back and she finished the season with one goal and three assists. Leigh Clark (junior) is another starting defender returning. Clark started 22 matches and had one goal and two assists.

“Leigh Clark is a starter returning in the back but she could also play in the midfield this fall. We may play with three or four in the back, and we can afford to go with three because of the experience we have returning. This is the best group of defenders we have ever had. Again the competition and depth will make this unit very successful.”

MIDFIELDERS Lea Shreve (senior) and Leigh Clark (junior) are the two returnees in the midfield. Shreve started 21 games and finished the season with three goals and one assist for seven points. Shreve played in the center midfield but was hurt in the spring. She should be able to comeback full strength and anchor the center midfield according to Leone. Clark may see action in the midfield this season if not needed as a back.

“In the midfield, we recruited wing midfielders. And with our incoming players and the depth we have coming back, will provide more competition within the team. Besides Clark, Julie Augustyniak may play some in the midfield.”

Other veterans returning include Tricia Williams (senior), Audria Lyons (sophomore), Tatum Clowney (junior), Mary Ward Younger (sophomore), and Cindy Mullinix (sophomore) all have played in the midfield.

The Lady Tigers had an outstanding year recruiting, as freshmen Jami Walker, Jami Walker is a left-footed player and is described by the coaching staff as a quick and very skillful player. Clifton was a Parade High School All-American.

“Kate is one of the top wing midfielders in the nation. She is also a national pool player and has a great future as a Clemson Tiger.” Unfortunately for the Lady Tigers, Kate will have to red-shirt the season due to an ACL operation late this summer.

Mitchell is a South Region Olympic Development team player and Leone is excited about her ability to play anywhere in the midfield.

“This will be a tough area for us as every position is wide open. However, when the season opens, I think this will be a strong suit for us with the competition and depth.”

FORWARDS Clemson returns Deliah Arrington (sophomore) and Heather Beem (sophomore) this season after both players had excellent freshmen seasons. Arrington led the 1999 team with nine goals and seven assists for 25 points. She started 15 games and also led the squad with the nine goals.

Beem, who started all 23 games, was third on the squad with 21 points and she had seven assists and seven goals. However, Beem is the big question as she had an ACL injury in the spring and will be brought along slowly until she is 100%.

“Several different players started up front last season because of injuries. Audria Lyons (sophomore) can score goals and Cindy Mullinix (sophomore) is very fast and powerful. The level of fitness and the chemistry of the players will decide who starts. Arrington should be the front runner. She had an excellent freshman year and improved this past spring. Lyons played almost every position last season and could see some playing time up front. She is very talented up front, but she had to help us in other areas.”

Clemson’s newcomer Lindsay Browne was a 1999 NSCAA High School All-American. “Lindsay is one of the best forwards on the West Coast. She should provide a lot of fire power to our already exciting frontline players.”