TCU Looks To Build On Success From A Year Ago
Aug. 25, 2004
Fort Worth, Texas -
A year ago, the Horned Frogs exceeded everyone's expectations when they finished in a two-way tie for second place in Conference USA after being tabbed for 12th in the preseason poll. This year the expectations are much higher as the Horned Frogs were selected to finish sixth in the always-tough Conference USA. The Frogs have the pieces in place to make their second-straight Conference USA Tournament this season as they return 18 members from the 2003 squad, including the two top scorers in seniors Amy Van Zandt and preseason all-C-USA performer Jessi Moore. Adding to the mix of returners are six newcomers, including highly touted freshmen goalkeepers Ashley Pierret and Lindsay White and midfielder Kimberly Ozenick.
The Frogs will play a tough schedule again in 2004 as 13 of their 18 games come against teams that finished .500 or better last season and four of which made the NCAA Tournament. The Frogs will also play one of the toughest league schedules as their slate features six of the top eight schools in the conference. TCU will play eight games at Garvey-Rosenthal, including contests against SMU, Saint Louis and UAB. The Frogs toughest road test in the non-conference will come at the Tribe Nike Invite hosted by William & Mary where they will face George Mason and the host school. The toughest road conference matches come as they travel north to DePaul and Marquette.
This is the most competitive area for the Frogs this season as they are loaded with four talented, young keepers. Katy Buchanan returns for her sophomore year following a strong freshman season in which she was the number one starter. Pushing her will be sophomore Jennifer Sims who saw limited action a year ago. Newcomers Pierret and White have looked good in the early going and could see significant playing time between the posts.
"Overall, I would say this is the best group of goalkeepers we've ever had," said head coach David Rubinson. "Any one of them could play this year. The two freshman will push the two sophomores and vice versa for game time."
This group, dominated by freshmen last season, should be one of the strongest areas on the team. Sophomore Breanne Kaldheim and junior Moran Lavi will anchor this group of talented defenders that allowed a little over three shots on goal per game a year ago. This hard-working group is expected to frustrate offenses by forcing them to take shots from outside, limiting the saves the goalkeepers will need to make.
"This group has to be willing to defend no matter what happens on the field," stated Rubinson. "If we defend with intensity and intelligence, we will be able to stay in most every game and have a chance to win."
The midfielders feature 12 feisty ladies who will be counted on to make the plays in the middle of the field. Third-team all-conference performer Karissa Hill returns for her sophomore year and will be the leader in the middle. Her height will help the Frogs win the crucial 50/50 balls. The leadership skills of seniors Kelly Potysman and Cara Toulouse will be important as they will help lead the Frog attack.
Adding to the mix are freshman Kimberly Ozenick and redshirt freshman Anne Monaghan. The two bring both speed and talent to the squad. Both should see plenty of time in the middle for TCU.
"Who will play in the midfield is still very much up in the air for us right now," said Rubinson. "Depending on how we progress will determine who plays the midfield. We would like to move some people closer to the goal, but that will work itself out as the season goes on."
The forwards are the most experienced group on the field, featuring three seniors. Each one is a proven scorer in her own right. Laura Greenberg returns for her final season in a Horned Frog uniform, after racking up 30 points her first three years. Also returning are third-team all-conference performer Amy Van Zandt and second-team all-conference selection Jessi Moore. Van Zandt picked up seven goals, four of which were game-winners last season, while Moore tallied six goals, three of which were game-winners. The forwards are capable of making the plays and will be key to the success of the Frogs.
"How this group of seniors go, so will the team," remarked Rubinson. "We know Amy's (Van Zandt) potential to score and we are going to need that as the season goes on. We want Jessi (Moore) close to goal for her scoring abilities as well."
The success of the team a year ago will help them in their quest for a second-straight winning season. The Frogs have not put together back-to-back winning seasons since the 1987-88 seasons, but have the pieces to do so this season.
"In general, the goals of this team coming into the season should dictate how we play," remarked Rubinson. "The goals are high and so are the standards. The same effort needs to be there. We know the task at hand and we need to build from where we were a year ago."