2006 Season Outlook
Aug. 21, 2006
The 2005 season will forever be known as the year of transition for the TCU soccer program. With a new head coach and a new conference, the Horned Frogs were able to embrace the change and scathe off the uncertainties that commonly hinder a team's performance by qualifying for the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Now, with a full season under second-year head coach Dan Abdalla and a season in the Mountain West, the Horned Frogs are poised to climb the conference standings.
"Our goal is to get better and improve on last year," Abdalla said. "We've made some progress with how we've played, and this year we need to get the results with that improvement. This season, everything seems so much more comfortable for everyone after dealing with all the transitions last season."
In 2005, TCU finished 6-11 and 1-7 in the Mountain West. Although TCU loses leading scorer Bjarnveig Birgisdottir, the Horned Frogs return six of 10 players who recorded points in 2005 and have added a talented freshman class of nine newcomers. The Horned Frogs' recruiting class was nationally ranked 49th by Soccer Buzz Magazine. In all, the Horned Frogs return eight of 11 starters and 11 letterwinners from 2005
With 15 of the 21 team members either being seniors or freshmen, the Horned Frogs have an outstanding mix of experience and youth.
The 2006 season will also bring a new look for TCU home games, as the Horned Frogs will play under the lights at Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium for the first time in school history.
"I am excited about the schedule we have because I think it is a great balance of very good programs," Abdalla said. "There aren't going to be any walkovers. We are going to see some perennial powers in Notre Dame and Nebraska, which will help get us ready for our conference season."
TCU's schedule is also built around schools from the state of Texas. The Horned Frogs play six games versus schools from Texas, including the first two games of the regular season with Rice and Texas Tech.
"Another important aspect of our schedule is the number of games we have against schools from Texas, which will continue to help us establish ourselves as one of the better programs in Texas," Abdalla said.
The Horned Frogs return 2005 starter Katy Buchanan to the position, but a pair of incoming freshmen in Kelsey Vross and Kadye Bowman will push her. In 2005, Buchanan started 16 of 17 games and finished the season with a 1.55 GAA.
"The position is up in the air and extremely competitive," Abdalla said. "All three of the kids (Bowman, Buchanan and Vross) are extremely talented athletes that have potential. Katy Buchanan has a little more experience, so she has the edge going into everything, but I expect all of them will contribute and certainly competition is going to make all of them better."
Defense is TCU's most experienced position with three returning starters. The trio of Karissa Hill, Breanne Kaldheim and Sara Schneider combined to start 50 of 51 combined games. Also competing for playing time will be Caroline Starns, who started 15 matches last season while contributing all over the field. The Horned Frogs will also return Courtney Brill, who missed the majority of last year after suffering a knee injury against Texas A&M two games into the season.
"Defense is where we are most experienced," Abdalla said. "I was very pleased with the spring Karissa Hill, Breanne Kaldheim, Sara Schneider and Caroline Starns all had. They have great chemistry back there and seem to read each other compliment each other extremely well.
"With that said, it is one area where we need to get a little bit more depth. We hopefully will get Courtney Brill back and healthy. Courtney Johnson has shown us that she is definitely going to be able to contribute back there. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Lizzie Batten or Anna Paulson step in as well."
"One player who has really performed well for us at midfield is Lauren Pope," Abdalla said. "She has just done a great job this preseason. She came in at a great fitness level and probably is as healthy as she has been during her college career. She just gives us the ability to unbalance a team and it makes it easier for other players to break opponents down. We will really look to her to read everything.
"Angie Nickens had a tremendous spring in a defensive role, which helped give everyone else the freedom they needed to make plays. We are going to be looking for a couple of youngsters to fit into the position. We are also going to use Courtney Johnson, Kelly Faerber and Lizzie Batten at the position. We also have Michelle Nguyen who is extraordinarily dynamic. She can be dangerous from anywhere on the field and has the ability to make things happen."
"Forward is a position where we are probably going to be the youngest," Abdalla said. "Casey Glass had a great spring and worked extremely hard this summer. She is a big, strong force out there and she has really improved on her game technically.
"Lesley Parkinson has continued to improve up top as well, and she seems to have a knack for getting game-winners. We also have two freshmen, which we expect to really make an impact in Lizzy Karoly and Chelsea White. Lizzy is just so explosive with speed that she is going to be dangerous every time and teams will have to respect her ability to get behind the defense. Chelsea White is such a calm and composed player with her back to the goal. She really puts herself in positions to be dangerous because she understands the game extremely well."
The stage is set for a breakout season in 2006. Old faces and new faces will come together to help take TCU to the next level.