Grizzlies Look To Continue
Winning Ways In 2002
|2001 Mid-Con Tournament Champs
The Oakland University
womens soccer program became the first for OU to receive a taste of the post-season
at the Division I level and the Golden Grizzlies enjoyed every minute of it. That said,
they were disappointed that they lost a two-goal lead and fell to #20 Cincinnati, 3-2, in
South Bend, Indiana. Cincy then went on to the Sweet 16 of the 2001 NCAA Womens
Soccer Tournament. With 17 letterwinners returning and eight starters back, the Golden
Grizzlies look to four-peat in the Mid-Continent Conference and return to the NCAA
The Golden Grizzlies accomplished one of its biggest goals in 2001 by
becoming the first Mid-Con team in the NCAA Womens Soccer Tournament. This season
Oakland knows what it takes to get there and they want to advance further in the
|Head Coach Nick O'Shea
"Last year we
wanted to win the Mid-Con Tournament and participate in the NCAA Tournament for the first
time," said head coach Nick O'Shea. "Anytime a
team accomplishes a goal, it takes time to set new ones, and with only three days to get
ready, we fell short. This year we have goals that surpass just making the NCAA
The goals that have remained constant here at OU will be winning the
regular-season and post-season Mid-Con championships. OShea knows that the
Mid-Continent Conference has gotten stronger every year and this year will be no
The Golden Grizzlies have compiled another tough non-conference
schedule to get the players ready for conference play. Oakland will try and defend its
Verizon Tournament Championship from 2001 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette August 30th
and September 1st. OU will also face Michigan State (9/8), New Mexico (9/19),
Kansas (9/21), Cincinnati (10/13) and Michigan (10/27) on the road. The home matches
against Illinois State (9/13), Purdue (9/15) and Western Michigan (10/31) should provide
equally tough challenges for the Golden Grizzlies.
"We always look to fill our schedule with top notch
programs," said OShea. "It is extremely important to play teams like that
so you can learn different styles of play and adapt your style. We learned a lot last year
when we traveled to Southern California for a match with USC, just in the pace of play and
the Bermuda grass."
The goals and
schedule are two ingredients OShea will use to try and win his fourth straight
league title. A key third ingredient for OShea will be experience. Oakland returns
17 of 21 players that saw significant playing time last year.
"Experience is a valuable commodity on any team," said
OShea. "With all the returning players coming back, we can continue to move
forward as a program."
The players that will need
to assume a more significant role on the offensive side of the field will be Shelly Piccirillo (Niagara Falls, Ontario/A.N. Meyer), Debbie Cartmel (Merseyside, England/De La Salle), Erica Demers (Welland, Ontario/Centennial), Beth Howson (Grosse Pointe/Grosse Pointe South) and incoming
freshman Kristi Swaving (Albuquerque, New Mexico/La Cueva).
Piccirillo is an All-Mid-Con performer from a year ago and
Oaklands biggest scoring threat returning. She ranked fourth on the OU squad with
eight goals and two assists for a total of 18 points. Piccirillo had four game-winning
goals and they were against IPFW (9/9), Youngstown State (9/19), Valparaiso and Michigan
State (10/18) to lead the team.
Cartmel ranked third
on the team last year with 21 points. Her eight goals tied her for third on the team and
she will look to score more in 2002. Cartmel was named All-Mid-Con second team a year ago
for the second straight season.
Demers was more defensive minded last year and will be asked to join
the attack more this season. She tallied two goals, eight assists and 12 points for the
Golden Grizzlies last year. Demers was named to the Verizon Wireless All-Tournament team
after tallying three points in two games, as Oakland won its first ever Verizon Wireless
Howson saw action off the bench last season and will get more playing
time in 2002. She scored four goals and three assists for a total of 11 points in 2001.
Howson will be asked to be more aggressive and creative in 2002.
One of Oaklands greatest strengths heading into the 2002 season
will be its defense. The Golden Grizzlies set a record last season by going nine
consecutive matches without a loss, and in six of those contests, the Golden Grizzly
defense didnt allow a goal. In record-setting fashion, the OU defense shut opponents
out 12 times and held its opposition to just 9.8 shots per game.
"We have the whole defensive core back," said OShea.
"Anytime you return all your starters on a defensive team that allowed less than a
goal a game, you feel very confident about the upcoming season."
Heading up the
defensive core will be seniors Kim Moore (Georgetown,
Ontario/Georgetown District), Christine Selesky
(Warren/Mott), junior Therese Bjorke (Lovenstad,
Norway/Ralingen) and goalkeeper Sarah Buckland
(Burlington, Ontario/Lester B. Pearson).
Moore has been named to the NSCAA All-Region team two of the last three
seasons. She was named All-Mid-Con first team for the third straight season and was always
matched up against the opposing teams top scorer. Moore collected four assists in
Selesky finally received some recognition for her solid play in 2001
when she was named All-Mid-Con first team. She was part of the defense line that only
allowed 9.8 shots per game and helped OU with 12 total shutouts.
Bjorke returns after having yet another quality season on defense.
Along with her defensive play, Bjorke also began OU attacks with her service from the
back. She had a four-game point streak for the Golden Grizzlies and ended the year with
Buckland is coming
off a record-setting season where she recorded eight shutouts in 2001. She is a two-year
starter and held opponents to 0.80 goals per game. She also recorded a .817 save
percentage and tied a school record with 13 wins a year ago. Buckland was named to the
All-Mid-Con second team for the second straight season after going 3-0 in league play,
with a 0.27 goals against average and two shutouts.
Experience will play a big role if Oakland are to remain atop the
Mid-Continent Conference. OSheas nine juniors and seniors, will be poised to
repeat as champions. All nine upper classman have had significant playing time in their
careers and have been called upon to score big goals and make big stops.
"You can never have enough experience on a team,"
said OShea. "After losing three highly talented players you need to combat that
with solid juniors and seniors who have waited their turn to shine."
All these ingredients have head coach Nick OShea ready to begin the 2002
campaign. He has studied the possibilities and is ready to see what his newest leaders
will bring to the table. With so many possibilities, Oakland should be clicking in no
Here is a look at the Golden Grizzlies position by
Buckland will be backed up by Jackie Tigue (Houston, Texas/Bellaire).
Tigue will be the first Texas born player to play for OShea. She will provide a nice
one-two punch for the Golden Grizzly netminders.
The starting defense will consist of Moore, Bjorke and Selesky. Helping
them out will be sophomores Sarah Voss (Clinton Twp./Chippewa
Valley), Morgan Murrell (Mississauga, Ontario/Cawthra Park)
and Nicole Dempsey (Troy/Bishop Foley). Voss played in seven games for the Golden
Grizzlies last year. She accumulated two assists for OU.
Murrell started in three games a year ago and should become a part of
the regular starting lineup in 2002. She played in 17 games last season and took two
shots. She will probably see time at the defensive midfield position.
Dempsey comes to Oakland from Madison Heights Bishop Foley. She played
a strong defense there and will be expected to help the OU defense and earn valuable
Sophomores Katie Arnott (St. Johns, New
Foundland/Bishops College) and Natalie Simas (Kitchner,
Ontario/Resurrection C.S.S) will also start at the midfield position. Other players that
will see time in the midfield will be junior transfer Emily Jackson (Birmingham/Madonna),
sophomores Kelly Reick (Shelby Twp./Eisenhower), Elizabeth Turner (Troy/Country Day) and Laura Cowham (Caledonia/East Kentwood).
Arnott is the reigning Mid-Con
Newcomer of the Year and was named to the Soccer Buzzs All-Freshman team. Arnott
tallied two goals and four assists for a total of eight points for the Golden Grizzlies
Simas started in 14 of the 20 games played in for OU last year. She
tallied six points on the year, with one goal and four assists. Her ability to send balls
into the box help the forwards get into position without the ball.
Reick saw action in all 21 games for the Golden Grizzlies. She is an
aggressive player that will provide a spark for the Golden Grizzlies. Reick had four
assists for Oakland in 2001.
Turner saw action in 12 games last year and scored one goal and two
assists. She provided rest for the starters and will see more time in 2002.
Cowham will take on a field position in 2002 after serving as
Bucklands backup in 2001. Cowham had two shutouts in goal last season and will try
and use her athleticism at the midfield position. She has good speed and will try to adapt
to playing the field on a regular basis.
The forward position will be fast and furious. Returning
starters, Piccirillo, Howson and Cartmel will provide a scoring touch up front. Other
contributors will be sophomores Jenny Young (Davison/Flint
Kearsley), Lindsey Mathus (Monroe/Jefferson) and freshmen
Leah Cherf (Grosse Pointe/Grosse Pointe North) and Lindsay Piotrowski (Troy/Athens)..
Young battled injury midway through last season, seeing action in 14
games. She did tally one goal for the Golden Grizzlies and will be asked to do more in her
second season at OU.
Mathus participated in 11 games for the Golden Grizzlies in 2001. She
recorded one goal for Oakland and provides agility off the bench.
Cherf is an incoming freshman from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. At Grosse
Pointe North, she was a captain and a team leader. Cherf is a smart player and should get
plenty of action in 2002.
Piotrowski comes from a great high school program and has a scoring
touch. She provides speed to the attach for Oakland and has a great shot.
|OU Celebration after winning Mid-Con Tourney
The Golden Grizzlies know
that the road is going to be tough. Oakland opens up with a tough tournament in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin and continues to play tough non-conference opponents throughout the regular
season. The few young players will gain valuable experience by playing this tough schedule
and by the tutelage of the older players. With all Mid-Con foes wanting to knock Oakland
off its pedestal, the Golden Grizzlies will hope experience will rear its head. The
combination of experienced players and young players, along with the solid defensive core,
should propel Oakland to repeat as Mid-Con champions in 2002. After tasting the NCAA
Tournament last season, and having 17 players that know what to expect, the Golden
Grizzlies will look to advance in the post-season for the first time this season.