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Toreros Aiming for Return to Postseason in 2007

Aug. 6, 2007

A good balance of experience and youth will power the University of San Diego women's soccer team through the 2007 campaign as head coach Ada Greenwood enters his fifth year at the helm of the program.

The experience comes from 18 returners and eight starters from last season's team that finished at 12-8-0 and just missed making their return to the NCAA postseason.

Greenwood has the Toreros focused on several things this season, winning the West Coast Conference Championship, returning to the NCAA postseason and advancing all the way to the final four.

"These are lofty goals, but I feel like we have a team capable of achieving what ever we want to achieve. We just plan to take it one day at a time and one match at a time," stated Greenwood. "We have a great squad coming in, actually it is one of the best squads I have been a part of in my nine years here at USD and I am excited about this season's potential."

In order for these goals to get met, the Toreros will have to rely on the returners for some leadership, and the three seniors on the roster stick out in Greenwoods mind.

Highlighting the senior class is the return of All-WCC first-team honoree and All-NSCAA and Soccerbuzz West Region team member, senior midfielder Leigh Ann Robinson. This midfielder had a break-out type year as a junior as she stormed onto the scene putting up a career-high and team-best nine goals, added seven assists for a team-leading 25 points. Her pace up top helped her transition from the midfield position up front to give USD some extra poke offensively. Greenwood and his coaching staff expect her to only excel from where she was a year ago.

"Leigh Ann is a super talented player and is just growing and growing each time she gets on the field," stated Greenwood. "She is someone that has played a variety of positions in her career and she will just be vital to our success down the stretch."

Another key returner up front for the Toreros will be junior Amy Epsten, who had to take a medical redshirt this past season. Epsten was tabbed as the WCC Freshman of the Year in 2004, a season in which she scored 10 goals, five of which were game winners.

"Amy had a very good spring and has been playing very, very well. She is someone that is so dynamic in the final third and has a great sense of knowing how to finish in the final third," said Greenwood.

Joining Epsten on the front line will be a transfer from cross-town rival San Diego State University, junior Jen Mello. Mello is another scoring threat in the Toreros' arsenal. She led the Aztecs in scoring for the past two seasons, scoring eight goals in each season. She was selected as an All-Mountain West Conference performer both seasons.

Tara Hodgson also makes her return for the Toreros after having an impressive sophomore campaign in 2006. Hodgson gave USD some valuable performances down the stretch as she tallied two goals and two assists for six points.

Incoming freshman Katie Gordon from Los Gatos, Calif. is also expected to give USD more depth up front. Gordon helped guide Archbishop Mitty High School to three WCAL championships and was an All-League performer.

Another freshman, who is expected to help offensively up front is Ashleigh Shoughro from Las Vegas, Nev. Shoughro is a highly touted recruit who helped lead her team to back-to-back state 4A championships as a junior and senior. She was also named first-team All-State and the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year in her final season.

"Ashleigh is very creative on the field and very good in and around the box," stated Greenwood. "She is good with both feet and is someone who can bring added depth to the front runners. She has that ability to come in and give an immediate impact."

Now we turn to the midfielders, and USD again has a plethora of talent in this position. Highlighting the returning midfielders is sophomore Hallie Huston. In 2006, Huston earned an All-WCC honorable mention and was selected to the Soccerbuzz All-West Region Team. In her freshman campaign, Huston tallied three goals and three assists for nine points, while being one of two Toreros to play and start in all 20 matches.

Another All-WCC performer making her return is sophomore Christine Mock. Mock had a solid 2006 campaign, as she tallied three goals, added one assist for seven points. Mock gave USD another solid midfielder in 2006 and the coaching staff only expects her to improve this upcoming season.

Sophomore Jessica Larrabee will be another returner who will be adding depth in the midfield. In 2006, Larrabee tallied one goal for two points and had a very productive spring for the Toreros.

Another key returner in the midfield for the Toreros will be junior Jackie Garcia. In 2006, Garcia recorded two assists for two points in playing a valuable part of the midfield.

Sophomore Giuliana Longmire also makes her return to the midfield and could also see time defensively for the Toreros. In 2006, Longmire registered one assist for one point while playing in all 20 matches providing USD with same valuable support both defensively and in the midfield.

Newcomers expected to help add more depth to the midfield are sophomore transfer Katie Araujo and freshmen Katie Bavasi, Megan Detrick, and Melissa Marucca. Marucca will be redshirting this season due to an injury

Araujo is a transfer from Santa Clara University, and had to sit out this past season due to injury. As a prep, she was a first-team All-Metro League while playing at Jesuit High School in Portland, Ore. She was selected to the Oregon State 4A All-state team as a senior and led the team to the state finals, scoring 13 goals along the way.

Bavasi, who's father is Bill Bavasi the General Manager of the Seattle Mariners, comes to USD to continue the family tradition. Her father Bill was a member of the USD basketball team and her mother Tracy was a swimmer at USD. She is a product of Mission Viejo High School and she helped led her team to the quaterfinals of the CIF playoffs as a senior en route to being selected as a first-team All-League honoree. She was also a member of the 2005 ODP team.

"Katie brings a great presences in the midfield with her height and playing ability," stated Greenwood. "She will also add a strong force on defending and attacking set pieces."

Detrick, a freshman from Irvine Calif., comes to San Diego after a stand-out high school career at Mater Dei High School. She helped her team to a Trinity League Championship as a junior, scoring eight goals and adding three assists.

Marucca comes to the Toreros after playing for Horizon High School. As a freshman, she helped lead her team to a league championship, was named first-team All-CIF and first-team All-League. She did not play the final three seasons of high school due to injury.

Next we look to the defense of the Toreros, and again depth is the key to the Toreros this season. USD's back four is extremely deep and Greenwood has a lot of talent at his disposal.

Senior Vanessa Vella will be someone that Greenwood will look to in order to anchor things down defensively. Vella returns to the Toreros after taking home All-WCC honorable accolades this past season after tallying a career-high seven assists.

"Vanessa is very important to how we play out of the back, how well we defend and how organized we are defensively," said Greenwood.

Junior Allison Wolters is also expected by Greenwood to give USD some added depth defensively as well as in the midfield this season. Wolters has been battling her way through injuries over her first two seasons in a Torero uniform, and this past season she tallied one goal and added four assists for six points.

Sophomore Natalie Vinti is another returner that Greenwood can rely on to give some leadership and experience for the back line. In 2006, Vinti played and started in all 20 matches and tallied two goals and four assists for eight points.

Ashley Kirk is also expected to help provide the defense with some leadership and experience. In 2006, Kirk scored two goals, one a game winner, for four points.

The final returning defender in 2007 will be Marina Heberer. In 2006, Heberer tallied one game-winning goal for two points, while seeing action in seven matches.

The remainder of the defenders is made of newcomers in the form of freshman Erika Wesley, Addie Cartan and Heather Burke.

Wesley, a defender from Oakland, Calif., comes to USD after a stand-out high school career at Acalanes High School. She was named first-team All-DFAL for three consecutive season's, was a member of the ODP team from 2003-06 and was tabbed as a Soccerbuzz top-150 recruit.

Cartan, a freshman from Santa Rosa, Calif., comes to USD after a stand-out career at Ursuline High School. She was a first-team All-North Bay League honoree all four years, was tabbed as the league's MVP as a junior and she helped lead her team to a No. 1 national ranking as a junior.

"Addie is a high quality defender, has a great playing ability, great one-on-one defending and can really be creative out of the defense," stated Greenwood.

And finally we come to one of the most important pieces on the field, the goalkeepers. The Toreros are fortunate to have two high quality goalkeepers on the roster in senior Karen Cook and junior Brittany Cameron. Each of these ladies split time in goal in 2006 and will be once again battling it out for the starting job this season.

Cook posted a 4-4 overall record in 2006 and posted a GAA of 1.24 in 797 minutes played. Cameron also was efficient in the net for the Toreros as she posted an 8-4 record with a team-leading 1.21 GAA in 1,038 minutes on the field.

"Karen and Brittany have fought it out over the past two years for the starting spot, and no one has claimed it as of yet," stated Greenwood. "We need to have two high level goalkeepers and I am happy that we have that."

With this abundance of talent, Greenwood has put together a very strong and demanding schedule for the team to get through in 2007. USD is not only playing in one of the premier women's soccer conference in the country, but they have added several non-conference matches that are not any easier.

San Diego is slated to face seven teams that competed in the 2006 NCAA playoffs, starting with the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest on Aug. 31 at Torero Stadium. Wake Forest has made 11 consecutive appearances in the NCAA playoffs. The second match of the season is against an always strong Duke team as the other part of the WCC/ACC Challenge.

The Toreros will also be squaring off against perennial power UCLA on its home pitch on Sept. 14 in a 7:30 p.m. match. The Bruins have reached the final four for the past two consecutive seasons. Another big highlight for the Toreros will be their match at the University of Portland on Thursday Oct. 25. This match is scheduled to be aired live on the Fox Soccer Channel as a nationally televised broadcast.

"We always try to play a very competitive non-conference schedule to prepare us for our conference schedule," stated Greenwood.