July 31, 2003
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - 2002 was a dream season for the Yale women's soccer team. The Bulldogs won 12 games, were selected to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history and advanced to the second round with a thrilling victory over Villanova.
Several key ingredients from that team have graduated, but head coach Rudy Meredith, the 2002 Northeast Region Coach of the Year, welcomes back a talented nucleus. Add to the mix a strong freshman class and the 2003 Bulldogs figure to be a serious contender for an Ivy League title and a berth in post season play.
Defense should again be the team's strength. The Bulldogs allowed only 16 goals last year and many key defenders return, including Lee Anne Jasper, this year's captain and one of only two seniors on the roster. She started all 19 games last year and has played in all but one game since she arrived in New Haven. The other senior is Joni Baker, who did not play last year but has appeared in 22 games in her career.
Sophomore April Siuda also started all 19 games on defense last year and was often responsible for marking an opponent's top scorer. A pair of players, junior Lindsay Demaree and sophomore Jennifer Scharf, were injured in 2002 but are healthy now and should contribute. As a freshman in 2001, Demaree started 15 games and had four points. Scharf was one of Meredith's top recruits in 2002 and has exciting potential. Sophomore Brianne Baker saw limited action as a freshman but hopes to earn more playing time this fall.
The biggest obstacle Meredith faces is replacing two-year starter Lindsay Sabel '03 in goal. The leading candidate is junior Sarah Walker, who posted a 0.46 goals against average in five games last year. Freshmen Chloe Beizer (Great Falls, VA), a three-time all-league selection at the Maret School, and Marcela Benitez (Sherman Oaks, CA) will also try to earn playing time.
Sophomore Laurel Karnes returns to anchor the midfield. She had an outstanding rookie season, earning honorable mention All-Ivy recognition after finishing fifth in the Ivy League in scoring with 20 points. Junior Maureen Metzger, who started 13 games last fall, also is an impact player. Fellow juniors Erin Ruck, who appeared in 11 games, and Mia Arakaki should also see regular time.
Sophomores Jessica Berggren and Lindsey Weening both provided an offensive spark off the bench in 2002. Berggren appeared in all 19 games and had three points, while Weening appeared in 18 games and contributed one assist.
Three freshmen will try and earn playing time. Erin Gillespie (Anchorage, AK) was the Alaska Gatorade Player of the Year at Robert Service High School. Emily Haddad (Bethesda, MD) is a quick and technical player. Sarah Milby (Newark, DE) played in the Delaware Olympic Development program for seven years.
Offensively, three of last year's top five scorers won't return, including Eleni Benson, who is taking the year off to try out for the Greek national team that will compete in the 2004 Olympics. The leading returner is sophomore Jamie Ortega, who was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection and the recipient of the Captain Cup as Yale's top rookie last fall. She tied for sixth in the Ivy League in goals with six. Junior Vanessa Resnick, who had three goals last year, also is a scoring threat.