Aug. 10, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 12 Ohio State women’s soccer team will kick off its 2005 campaign with the annual Scarlet and Gray scrimmage at 4 p.m. Thursday at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium before it plays host to Wake Forest in exhibition action at 8 p.m. Aug. 15. The Buckeyes officially commence the regular season when they travel to Kent, Ohio, to face Kent State at 4 p.m. Aug. 26.

After capturing the 2004 Big Ten tournament title, reaching the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA tournament on their home field and posting an OSU women’s soccer all-time best record of 19-4-3, the 2005 Buckeyes are eager to set their own mark on Ohio State women’s soccer history. Ohio State returns its Top 3 scorers and the core of its attack in Lara Dickenmann, Lisa Grubb and Danielle Dietrich, in addition to a defensive unit that allowed an OSU record-low 18 goals led by All-American Melissa Miller and co-captain Emily Francis. Head Coach Lori Walker, who embarks upon her ninth season at the helm, is prepared to guide this new group of Buckeyes and although she and the team recognize the impact last season will have on the 2005 squad, Walker and Co., are focused on the future.

“We certainly are not going to go into the 2005 season looking back on what we did last year,” Walker, a member of three-time NCAA champion North Carolina during her playing career (1989-91) said. “Every season is a whole new team and I think one of our biggest challenges is not to look behind us, but to look forward and set new challenges for ourselves.”

Although the Buckeyes will miss the guidance of a vocal senior class from a year ago, leadership will be a non-issue, as Ohio State will have an abundance of Buckeyes who will be willing to direct the team on all ends of the field. Dietrich, Grubb and Megan Stickler will comprise the 2005 senior class with Grubb, who became the Buckeyes all-time goals leader with 51 career scores, developing into a more outspoken asset as she assumes the role of co-captain.

Additional key contributors to leadership include Francis, Miller and Dietrich, who is only 1-of-3 players to register 30 points in a season at Ohio State. Walker anticipates that both Francis and Dietrich will add important intangibles to the team, such as being aware of the squad’s daily off-the-field lives and providing a lighter and more carefree approach to the game, which can become a vital edge towards the end of the season. Miller, a two-time National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) Second-Team All-America recipient is expected to assume a more aggressive and vocal presence after the departure of two-time team MVP Erica Nollen.

In addition, sophomore Keiana Mitchell is expected to offer her respective leadership abilities in the backline after starting 12 matches, including seven during the postseason.

The 2005 squad boasts several strengths, ranging from defensive effort to a wealth of proven collegiate goal scorers. In 2004, the Buckeyes limited their opponents to 246 shots and 18 goals, and Ohio State’s stifling defense will be a staple to the squad’s success in the upcoming season.

Because of the tremendous depth that characterizes the team, Ohio State will look to set the tone in its matches and maintain a free-flowing attack, which became a successful tool for the Buckeyes last season. With unparalleled depth, the Buckeyes will have help at each position, locating and developing varying lines on the field.

In the backfield, Ohio State boasts a trio of defenders in Miller, Francis and Mitchell. Miller and Francis, who started all 26 contests and Mitchell, who started 12 games, will look to lower the Buckeyes’ record-setting goals against average of 0.67.

As Ohio State gears up for seven two-game weekends, a deep bench will be crucial in 2005. The tandem of junior goalkeeper Shannon Neely and sophomore Staci Sinkway will rotate much of the 2005 season, as Walker plans to utilize each keeper’s respective strengths. Each will see time during the season depending on various situations.

Dickenmann, Dietrich and Grubb will anchor a deep offensive nucleus, where all three have the potential to frustrate defenses. Dickenmann, a Soccer America Most Valuable Player recipient, shattered OSU single-season records in goals (13), assists (12) and points (38) and was named Soccer Buzz Freshman of the Year. She will serve as an attacking central midfielder.

Dietrich’s role on the team is predicted to slightly alter, as she will be playing more in the midfield, as opposed to playing up top, which was the norm last season. In addition to her leadership role, Grubb, who was named a NSCAA Second-Team All-Great Lakes Region All-American in 2004, will look to remain a consistent force after tallying 12 goals and 10 assists for 34 points in 24 starts last season.

Forwards Heather Young and Carleta Arbulu, along with midfielder Stickler will add an increased presence after making their Ohio State debuts last season.

The Buckeyes added five prospects to the squad in 2005. Lisa Collison, Caitlin Colfer, Amy Graeff, Courtney Cripps and Christine Lu all join the Buckeyes this season. Collison, a forward from Niagara Falls, Ontario, was a starter for the U-19 Canadian National Team and represented her country in the 2003 Pan American Games. Collison also was the top goal scorer for her Ontario provincial team, leading the squad to three-consecutive national championships.

Colfer, who graduated early from high school to join the Buckeyes in March, will provide added savy and scoring ability. With the early start, Colfer had the advantage of getting acclimated with the OSU system. Walker predicts Colfer will be a versatile player, who can play any line. A product of Colonie Central High School in Albany, N.Y., Colfer twice was named an NSCAA/Adidas High School All-American (2003 and `04). She also is the first Suburban Council player to score more than 100 career goals (103 goals/31 assists). In addition, Colfer led the Yankee United Hurricanes to the Connecticut U-17 state cup championship in 2004 and was a member of the Albertson Express U-18 team, which was ranked No. 1 in the nation and won the state championship for four consecutive years (2002-05). She also was selected to play on the Region 1 ODP and was the representative for Team USA in the 2004 International U-17 Tournament in Castlebar, Ireland.

Additionally, Walker and her staff landed an exciting Ohio product in Graeff defender. A two-time member of the ODP Region II team, Graeff played for Westerville North High School and was a member of the 2002, ’03 and ’04 district and state teams. Graeff also was the 2004 OCC Player of the Year and earned numerous all-state awards.

The Buckeyes also will use the services of a pair of Georgia student-athletes in Lu, a midfielder, and Cripps, who is a goalkeeper. Lu, a native of Lawrenceville, Ga., was a standout member of the Peachtree City Lazers, where she led her team to the 2004 Region III finals. Lu participated with the Region III Pool from 2000-02 and played for the Georgia ODP for three years.

Cripps played goalkeeper for the United Quest team and was a four-year letterwinner at North Cobb High School. Her United Quest team won the 2004 State Cup Championship and was runner-up in 2002. She was named to the Georgia All-State team from 2002-04 and was selected to the regional camp team in 2002 and ’03.

Although Ohio State plays each of its first four games outside of Columbus, the Buckeyes do have the opportunity to play within the state of Ohio against three in-state rivals. In the opener August 26th, Ohio State travels north to face defending Mid-American Conference champion Kent State before heading south for Cincinnati (Aug. 28) to play against Xavier University. The Buckeyes open the September slate against Xavier’s cross-town rival, the Cincinnati Bearcats, at the semi-annual Dayton tournament (Sept. 2). The Buckeyes close the Dayton tourney Sunday, Sept. 4 against Furman of the Southern Conference.

Ohio State’s first home match pits the Buckeyes against Kentucky of the Southeastern Conference Sunday, Sept. 11. After the home opener, the Scarlet and Gray head back to the road for a trip to the east coast. On Sept. 15, Ohio State faces Harvard of the Ivy League in a weekday matinee, set to kick off at 1:30 p.m. The Buckeyes close their trek to the Atlantic coast with a match against Northeastern (Sept. 17).

Upon their return from New England, the Big Ten schedule looms as the Buckeyes head north for the Michigan two-step, playing the Wolverines Sept. 23, followed by Michigan State Sept. 25.

After the Michigan swing, Ohio State welcomes a five-game homestand, starting with Illinois Sept. 30 and ending with Penn State Oct. 14. Last season the Buckeyes defeated the Nittany Lions, 2-0, in the Big Ten championship to claim their second conference title in four years. In between the Fighting Illini and Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes play host to Iowa (Oct. 2), Indiana (Oct. 7) and Purdue (Oct. 9).

The league season ends with another daunting road test. First, Ohio State heads to Minneapolis to weather the cold against the Golden Gophers (Oct. 16) before it is off to the windy city to play Northwestern (Oct. 21) and then Wisconsin (Oct. 23) to conclude the Big Ten regular season.

The Buckeyes have a non-conference tune up against Morehead State to end the October schedule before heading back to Ann Arbor, Mich., for the Big Ten tournament Nov. 3-6.

At the conclusion of the 2004 season, several Buckeyes garnered postseason accolades. After her record breaking year, sophomore Lara Dickenmann earned freshman of the year honors from Soccer America, and the Big Ten. Dickenmann also was named to the All-America first team.

The National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) honored Dickenmann and Melissa Miller with Great Lakes Region First Team honors after the duo earned conference first team laurels.

Buckeye head coach Lori Walker became the first female to serve as color analyst for a Major League (MLS) Soccer game July 23 when she offered her talents during the Columbus Crew vs. Kansas City Wizards contest on HDNet.

Walker previously was the women’s color analyst for NBC’s coverage of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. She also helped usher in the third season of the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) action in 2003 as a color correspondent for the Washington Freedom.

Ohio State looks to maintain its dominance at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. In 2004, the Buckeyes held a 10-game unbeaten streak at home. The Scarlet and Gray extended that run to 16 games in the postseason, winning three matches during the 2004 Big Ten Tournament to become champions and capturing an additional three contests to advance to the “Elite Eight” of the NCAA tournament.

Led by head coach Tony da Luz, No. 21 Wake Forest compiled a 10-7-2 record last season, including a 4-4-1 mark in the ACC. The Demon Deacons advanced to the NCAA first round and climb to No. 19 in the polls.

Wake Forest returns three key upperclassmen to its 2005 roster in Sara Kozy, Elizabeth Remy and Melanie Schneider. The trio recorded a combined total of 25 goals and seven assists.

Ohio State and Wake Forest last met in 2000 at the Nike Classic in Columbia, Mo., where the Buckeyes fell, 2-1. In the lone game in series history, Buckeye Lindsay Eckles scored the only goal for Ohio State with Emily Thorpe on the assist.

The Buckeyes officially kick off the 2005 season when they travel to Kent, Ohio, to face the Kent State Golden Flashes at 4 p.m. Aug. 26 at Kent State Soccer Field. The match is the first of four consecutive road games for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State’s first regular season home game is slated for 6 p.m. Sept. 11 vs. Kentucky at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium.

The Washington Freedom exhibition match scheduled for Aug. 18 in Cincinnati, Ohio, was cancelled.