UP practice schedule and other news

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UP practice schedule and other news

Post by A_Fan on Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:24 pm

This release would seem to answer some questions that we all have been speculating about lately. It will be interesting to see if the Oregonian runs it all in the paper tomorrow.

The University of Portland women’s soccer team opens the 2008 regular season by hosting the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, August 23 at 7 p.m. at the Clive Charles Soccer Complex. The Pilots are expecting a near sellout for the home opener after averaging nearly 3,800 fans per match in 2007, a school record and the second highest average in NCAA women’s soccer history for a single season. Portland’s training schedule for the rest of the week follows. Please contact Jason Brough (503-706-3460) in advance of attending a session to ensure that times have not changed.

Soccer Practice Schedule

Wednesday 8/20
Women 1:30-3:00 pm

Thursday 8/21
Women 1:30-3:00 pm

Friday 8/22
Women 1:30-3:00 pm

2008 Women’s Soccer Season Preview

Following the first day of preseason training in early August, all six freshmen on the University of Portland women’s soccer team were asked the same question: “What are your expectations for the upcoming season?” Although asked separately, each player had the same response: “To win a national championship.”

So is the case with a program that is now measured not merely by playoff appearances or even College Cup appearances, but where anything less than a national title seems non-satisfactory. It is a mentality that trickles from the top down as head coach Garrett Smith has taken the foundation set by the legendary Clive Charles and brought the program to unprecedented levels of success. Charles, with Smith at his coaching side, guided Portland to its first NCAA title in 2002, Smith has since taken over and led the Pilots to at least the third round of every postseason, including an undefeated 2005 championship run.

Smith wants more national championships and he thinks the pieces are in place for yet another title run in 2008. With another top 10 recruiting class, five returning starters, and the much-anticipated return of twin sisters Megan and Rachael Rapinoe from injuries, it would be hard to overlook the Pilots. Canadian National Team member Sophie Schmidt will return from the Summer Olympics to infuse more international flair to an already loaded roster which features three members of the United States Under-20 National Team: Michelle Enyeart, Keelin Winters and Elli Reed. Although the trio will miss the 2008 playoffs while leading the USA at the 2008 FIFA U-20 World Championships, Smith will have their services for a majority of the regular season.

A constant at the University of Portland is an unmatched level of fan support. The program has led the nation in average attendance each of the last three years, establishing new school records each year and culminating with an average of 3,771 fans at 10 home matches in 2007. Portland went 10-0 in those matches. The rabid fan base will get an opportunity to see plenty of quality soccer on the Merlo Field pitch in 2008 as a loaded home schedule awaits the Pilots. The marquee weekend will be Aug. 30 when UCLA visits The Bluff, followed by defending national champion USC on Monday, Sept. 1. Other nationally prevalent programs set to visit are Florida and West Coast Conference rival Santa Clara.

Fans will welcome the return of the Rapinoes, who both enter the season healthy. Megan Rapinoe, an All-American as a freshman in 2005, missed most of the last two years with a pair of knee injuries. An up-and-comer with the USA National Team prior to knee issues, she is eager to get back on the pitch and do what she does best: score goals. Rachael Rapinoe burst onto the national scene during the 2006 playoffs, where she scored five goals in four games. She started the 2007 season with four goals in four matches before injury derailed her promising start. Now Portland will have the services of two of the top scorers in the country as co-captains in 2008.

Depth should be less of a problem this season as well with the addition of the No. 7 recruiting class in the nation, according to Soccer Buzz Magazine. Three of the six incoming recruits bring extensive youth National Team experience to Portland. Charney Burk, Michelle Olivier and Danielle Foxhoven all were Parade Magazine and NSCAA Youth All-Americans in addition to their National Team pedigree.

The freshmen will be expected to jump right in and make an impact as the Pilots must replace six senior starters that graduated from the 2007 squad, including three of the team’s four starting defenders. Defense is something that Smith and the rest of the coaching staff have focused on during preseason training.

“We know that we are going to score goals,” he said. “But for us to be the team we want to be, we must be more mindful of our defense. We will bring a no shots, no goals mentality to the field each game.”

The tradition of UP soccer continues in 2008 with an exciting and talented roster, a brutally challenging schedule, and the goal to continue growing an already record-breaking fan base. The fun starts Saturday, Aug. 23 when the Pilots host northwest rival Oregon under the lights at Merlo Field and the Clive Charles Soccer Complex.

FORWARDS

Junior striker Michelle Enyeart led the Pilots in scoring a year ago with 12 goals and 15 assists. Although Portland will miss her during the playoffs, the team will turn to her during the regular season as a primary offensive threat. Her speed and skill are both top-end and her training with the U-20s has made her more of a complete player. Smith describes her as having the “pace and attitude of a flat out goal scorer.”

Rachael Rapinoe began her career on the defensive side of the ball but proved a capable scorer over the last two years. She has played 20 matches as a forward and has scored 13 goals and seven assists in those contests. Coming back from a season ending injury, Smith hopes to ease her back into the playing fold and have her fully healthy for the second half of the regular season and the playoffs.

Megan Rapinoe has ignited the Merlo Field faithful on many occasions throughout her tenure on The Bluff and as eager as fans are for her return to the pitch, opponents must be equally disheartened. With sharp technical skills and a flair for the dramatic, she has waited (somewhat) patiently to take the field once again. Rapinoe is in elite company joining former greats Tiffeny Milbrett and Shannon MacMillan as the only Pilots with 25 goals and 15 assists in their first two years of competition.

Junior Kendra Chandhoke tallied nine goals in 2007, including a memorable four-goal game at San Francisco. A natural scorer, Chandhoke has battled minor injuries throughout her career and Smith hopes to have her healthy and showing her true ability throughout the season.

“We need to manage her health and number of minutes this year because we are a better team with her on the field,” he said. “She is dangerous in the air and we love to see her going at defenders in front of the goal.”

Junior Janelle Jacka is playing the best soccer of her career during preseason training, according to Smith, and will give the Pilots a viable option off the bench. Jacka scored her first two collegiate goals in nine matches last season.

Freshman Danielle Foxhoven is another option at striker in addition to her ability to play an offensive midfielder role. Foxhoven led her Colorado Nike Rush club team to the 2008 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship while claiming the Golden Boot Award for MVP of the tournament. A two-time NSCAA Youth All-American and member of the USA Youth National Team system, Foxhoven is expected to be an immediate contributor for the Pilots in 2008.

MIDFIELDERS

Sophomore Keelin Winters burst onto the collegiate and international soccer scene after earning West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year honors and Freshman All-America honors last season. An anchor at the holding midfield position, Winters parlayed her stellar collegiate season into a role with the USA U-20s. She will hold down the Pilot midfield for most of the regular season before departing with the U-20s for the World Championships.

Smith will have plenty of viable options for taking Winters’ spot, most notably sophomore Sophie Schmidt who plays a similar role for the Canadian Women’s National Team. Schmidt will get a brief rest after helping Canada to the quarterfinals of the Beijing Olympics. Last year, Schmidt played the forward position on a depleted Pilot roster and tallied seven goals and seven assists in just 14 matches, but she is expected to move back to her more natural midfield spot in 2008.

Fellow U-20 star Elli Reed started 19 matches out wide for the Pilots last year and scored four goals with two assists. Reed has been primarily a defender for the national team and could play either position for the Pilots during the 2008 regular season. Smith described Reed as “quicker and sharper than ever before.”

Sophomore Sara Jackman brings a year of experience to the mix as well. Jackman started five matches and made 16 appearances as a true freshman, primarily as a holding midfielder.

Three more freshmen will also get a look in the midfield. Charney Burk brings National Team and Youth All-America credentials to the mix.

“Charney is a player,” Smith said. “She has flashes of Tiff (Milbrett), but maybe not the same high gear in terms of speed. But she has lots of other components and we expect her to be a midfield leader.”

Halley Kreminski is an athletic player that came in under the radar in terms of recruiting. Smith considers her a “pure, strong, gifted soccer player who reacts well to any situation.” Kreminski was the Idaho Gatorade Player of the Year last season for soccer.

Emma Nelson was a late addition to the roster out of Mill Creek, Wash. After battling injuries much of her prep and club career, Nelson is hoping to make her mark with the Pilots.

“Emma fits in well with the team and has a great personality,” Smith said. “She will do anything to contribute and we hope she can continue to stay healthy and give us some midfield help.”

Foxhoven also will see time as an outside midfielder in addition to her role as a forward.

DEFENDERS

Losing three of the four starting defenders from last year’s NCAA quarterfinal squad may seem like a tall task to handle, but Smith is eager to develop a young and talented group into the next set of defensive stalwarts. The lone holdover from last year is sophomore outside back Jessica Tsao. As a freshman, Tsao started 19 matches and came into her own as the season progressed.

Opposite Tsao will be sophomore Megan Sweeney, who redshirted last year due to injury. Sweeney started 22 matches as a freshman and is healthy and ready to go once again.

A group of four defenders are the early favorites to fill the two center back positions vacated by four-year starters Emily Michaelson and Kelli Cronkrite. Redshirt junior Korie Nicholson comes in as the most experienced of the group despite missing all but six matches in 2007 due to injury.

Sophomore Kristen Kelly appeared in seven games off the bench last season for the Pilots.

“Kristen gathered a lot of information playing behind two seniors last year,” said Smith. “She is much more mature and stronger this season.”

Two promising freshmen also are expected to be major contributors. Michelle Olivier is the first UP recruit out of Georgia and has been a fixture among USA Youth National Teams. A two-time Youth All-American, Olivier has good size and plenty of experience playing at high levels of competition.

“Michelle is a classic center back,” Smith said. “She wins balls in the air, uses her size well and has good ball skills.”

Fellow frosh Kassi McCluskie has also impressed Smith. Another Pilot recruit out of the Sereno Soccer Club in Arizona, McCluskie has already drawn comparisons to former UP standout defender Kari Evans.

“Kassi has a very competitive attitude and she can get through anything,” Smith noted. “She is relentless and very well trained. She is also very good in the air and has an aggressive mentality.”

GOALKEEPERS

The goalkeeping duo of junior Kelsey Davis and sophomore Hailee DeYoung is back minding the nets for the Pilots in 2008. Smith considers both players among “the top three or four college goalkeepers in the nation.”

Davis appeared in 17 games last year and recorded nine shutouts. She posted a 0.49 goals-against average, while making 49 saves. She saved her best performance for last, making a career-high 11 saves in the Pilots’ 3-2, double overtime loss at UCLA.

“Kelsey is already a team leader,” Smith noted. “She has a tremendous amount of international experience with the USA Under-23 National Team and we only expect her to get better.”

DeYoung started five matches and appeared in eight total as a true freshman. She posted a 0.67 goals-against average and three shutouts.

“Hailee has settled in and can finally speak Irish,” joked Smith, in reference to Director of Soccer and goalkeeper coach Bill Irwin. “She is as good as there is in college soccer. She is another big, strong athlete and her best days are ahead.”

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Re: UP practice schedule and other news

Post by ninjapizza on Tue Aug 19, 2008 3:49 pm

I'm so excited! I'm so excited! And unlike Jesse from Saved By The Bell, not scared.

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Re: UP practice schedule and other news

Post by Stonehouse on Tue Aug 19, 2008 4:31 pm

Ha ha ha! Ninjapizza, that definitely wins my award as post of the month!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bflYjF90t7c

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