Aug. 25, 2005

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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The No. 10 Ohio State women’s soccer team opens the 2005 regular season with a two-match weekend against Kent State and Xavier.

The Buckeyes take on the Golden Flashes at 4 p.m. Friday at Kent State Soccer Field in Kent, Ohio. The Scarlet and Gray then head south to Cincinnati, Ohio, to face the Musketeers at Xavier University Soccer Complex.

Sophomore Lara Dickenmann was named to the 2005 Preseason All-America watch list. Dickenmann, who ended the 2004 campaign as the Buckeyes’ all-time single-season record holder in goals (12), assists (13) and points (38), joins the 12-member field after being named the Freshman of the Year last season.

After ranked the Buckeyes No. 12 in its preseason poll, Ohio State was tabbed 10th in the nation by the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA/adidas) and Soccer America polls.

Big Ten coaches ranked the Buckeyes as the No. 2 team in the conference in the Big Ten preseason poll. Penn State was ranked the top team in the league and Illinois rounded out the Top 3.

2005 Big Ten Preseason Poll
1. Penn State
2. Ohio State
3. Illinois
4. Michigan
5. Wisconsin
6. Indiana
7. Purdue
8. Northwestern
9. Michigan State

The Buckeyes concluded their preseason schedule with a 3-1 win vs. the Michigan Hawks Olympic Development Program. Lara Dickenmann, Kate Linehan and Keiana Mitchell had a goal a piece for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State dropped a 3-1 decision to Wake Forest in exhibition action Aug. 15 at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Sophomore Carleta Arbulu scored the Buckeyes’ lone goal in the second half and Lara Dickenmann was credited with the assist. Goalkeepers Shannon Neely and Courtney Cripps split time in the net, recording four and one save, respectively.

Two-time defending Mid-American conference champion Kent State is led by head coach Rob Marinaro. In his fifth year at the helm, Marinaro has compiled a 35-30-10 career mark.

Key returnees for the Golden Flashes include MAC freshman of the year Kimberly Dimitroff and Lisa Kurz. Dimitroff led the squad with 16 goals and Kurz was second with six.

On the defensive end of the field, Alicia Fernandez, who posted a 1.28 goals against average in 2004, will start in the net for the Golden Flashes. The Kent State backline returns Raetta Hord, Britt Laning, Wendy Gamble and Heather Gilbert.

Ohio State has a 3-0 series lead over Kent State, including a 2-0 shutout at Jesses Owens Memorial Stadium in 2004. The Buckeye defense held the Golden Flashes scoreless in the teams’ previous meetings in 2002 (3-0) and 2001 (5-0) in Columbus, Ohio.

Xavier returns 13 letterwinners and seven starters from a 2004 squad that posted a 5-12-2 overall record and a 4-5-2 mark in the Atlantic 10.

Alvin Alexander took over his first head coaching position at Xavier after the departure of Dr. Ron Quinn.

The series is deadlocked at 3-3-1. In 2004, Ohio State topped Xavier 8-1 in Columbus, Ohio, at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. It was the first meeting between the Buckeyes and Musketeers since 1998 and Ohio State prevailed 2-1 in overtime in Columbus.

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 four prospects to the squad in 2005. Lisa Collison, Caitlin Colfer, Courtney Cripps and Amy Graeff 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 goalkeeper Cripps. 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.

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.

The Buckeyes continue their four-game road trip with the University of Dayton tournament Sept. 2-4 in Dayton, Ohio. The Scarlet and Gray will face Cincinnati at 5 p.m. Sept. 2 and Furman Sept. 4 at Baujan Field.

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