Womens Soccer: Freshmen make presence felt early
Andy Troeger | Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Coming into the season, the women’s soccer team knew that they would count on their highly touted freshman class to produce immediate results. The Irish were coming off a disappointing season and were looking for the freshmen to help the team return to the top.
Those freshmen have come through with flying colors.
“We certainly wouldn’t be where we are [without them],” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We wouldn’t have been 18-1-1 going into the postseason. They’ve brought so much to the program – some great chemistry to the team and some personality, which we needed.”
Overall, 10 freshmen have played for the Irish this season, with five of them already making strong impacts on the success of this year’s Irish team.
“It’s really influenced even the older players,” Waldrum said. “The level [of play] has been good enough to push everybody. The veterans found out real early that we better play or somebody’s going to take our spot. I’d certainly say they are a key reason why we’re as successful as we are right now.”
“Our freshman class is very strong,” freshman Lizzie Reed said. “We’ve helped contribute with the upperclassman by highlighting what their great qualities are.”
Leading the pack thus far has been central defender Christie Shaner. After earning a starting role a few weeks into the season, Shaner played a major role in the Irish defensive success that was shown through their 10-game shutout streak in October. After settling in, the accolades started rolling in for Shaner, who was named Co-Big East Rookie of the Year after winning the Big East Player of the Week award three times during the season.
“I watched her play for about two years in the recruiting process, so it doesn’t surprise me what she’s doing,” Waldrum said. “She was a little tentative and injured when she came in, but after the first couple of weeks she got her opportunity, and she’s really made the most of it. She’s probably been one of our most steady players and has really been a great match back there with Melissa Tancredi. She’s so good in the air and good on the ball that it really adds a dimension. She’s been fantastic this year.”
Reed has been another bright spot for the Irish, as she has stepped in at positions all over the field to assist the team. Reed, who was a prolific goal-scorer in high school, has had to make the adjustment to playing in her many different roles.
“Playing in the defense was a new thing, but I was happy to get back there,” Reed said. “I’ve gained some experience at every position, and being a freshman and getting some minutes is great.”
The freshmen came to South Bend early to practice and get to know each other before the season started. They also have meshed well with the team by adding a lot of character.
“It was good that we came in early,” Reed said. “We got to know each other better and to know the upperclassmen. That was good for preseason because we became more comfortable in our environment.”
“It’s really helped that the 10 of us are so close,” freshman Becky Tweneboah said. “I think it’s really brought the team closer. We contribute to each other’s personalities and work off each other very well.”
“Everybody talks about the chemistry that our team has, compared to the last few years,” freshman midfielder Claire Gallerano said. “The freshmen have a lot of character and we’re very complementary.”
The impact of the freshmen has not been lost on Waldrum.
“It’s rare to have so many in the same class [come in ready to play as freshmen],” he said. “A couple of them have surprised us. We knew some of them would be good, but we didn’t know that some of them would be able to impact us as quickly as they did.”