Golden Grizzlies Look To Continue
Winning Ways In 2002

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2001 Mid-Con Tournament Champs

    The Oakland University women’s 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 Women’s 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 Tournament.

    The Golden Grizzlies accomplished one of its biggest goals in 2001 by becoming the first Mid-Con team in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. This season Oakland knows what it takes to get there and they want to advance further in the post-season.

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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 Tournament."

    The goals that have remained constant here at OU will be winning the regular-season and post-season Mid-Con championships. O’Shea knows that the Mid-Continent Conference has gotten stronger every year and this year will be no different.

    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 O’Shea. "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 O’Shea will use to try and win his fourth straight league title. A key third ingredient for O’Shea 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 O’Shea. "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 Oakland’s 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.

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Debbie Cartmel

    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 Tournament Championship.

    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 Oakland’s 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 didn’t 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 O’Shea. "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."

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Kim Moore

    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 team’s top scorer. Moore collected four assists in 2001.

    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 five points.

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Sarah Buckland

    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. O’Shea’s 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 O’Shea. "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 O’Shea 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 time.

Here is a look at the Golden Grizzlies position by position:

Goalkeeper
    Buckland will be backed up by Jackie Tigue (Houston, Texas/Bellaire). Tigue will be the first Texas born player to play for O’Shea. She will provide a nice one-two punch for the Golden Grizzly netminders.

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Therese Bjorke

Defense
    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 minutes.

Midfield
    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).

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Katie Arnott

    Arnott is the reigning Mid-Con Newcomer of the Year and was named to the Soccer Buzz’s All-Freshman team. Arnott tallied two goals and four assists for a total of eight points for the Golden Grizzlies last season.

    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 Buckland’s 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.

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Jenny Young

Forward
    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.

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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.

 

Oakland University 2003. All rights reserved.

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