JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (December 17, 2002) - East Tennessee State University women's soccer team finished the 2002 campaign 6-11-1 overall, 3-5-1 in Southern Conference play. The Buccaneers, who finished their sixth season as a varsity sport, accomplished many goals and broke several school records as a team and individually in 2002.
ETSU finished eighth in regular season play earning a spot in the SoCon tournament. This achievement was a first for the young Buccaneer program since the conference began taking only eight teams in 1999.
Six of the Buccaneers 11 losses were by one goal, four of those being conference opponents who were all top five seeds in the SoCon tournament.
This season the Buccaneers' roster consisted of seven freshmen, six sophomores, two juniors and two seniors. The newcomers scored 16 of the Buccaneers' 29 goals this season and handed out 13 of the 20 total assists. With so many talented freshmen the future looks very bright for the Buccaneers in 2003.
In 2002 ETSU tore through the record books, breaking team records for best overall record, best conference record, and lowest number of goals scored against (30).
Individually ETSU freshman forward Erin Ashton (New Bern, N.C.) broke a few records of her own for goals scored in a season with 11 and points in a season with 27. Keeper Heather Sanden (Manassas, Va.) was named to the All SoCon second team making her only the second Buccaneer to receive an All-SoCon award. She broke school regular season records for goals against average (1.67) and tied the record for shutouts in a season with 3.
2002 Compared to 2001
This season the Buccaneers scored 30 goals compared to 23 in 2001. The number of goals scored against went from 56 in 2001 to 29 in 2002. The number of games that the Buccaneers scored in increased by 25%.
2002 Senior Class
The close of the 2002 season marked the end of two Buccaneer careers - senior's Lena Summers (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Elizabeth Smith (Arden, N.C.).
Lena Summers entered East Tennessee State University as a freshman in 1998. In her five years as a Buccaneer she has left her mark. She has played in 52 games and more than 5,100 minutes. In 2001 she suffered an ACL injury that caused her to miss the season, but came back in 2002 to help lead the Buccaneers past many milestones and left her mark on the Buccaneer record book. She ranks third in career goals with 11 and fourth in career points with 26. She is tied for fourth for goals in a season with four, and tied for seventh for points in a season with 10, which she set in 1999. This season she scored three goals on 10 shots as a defender for the Buccaneers.
Liz Smith began her college career in 1999; in that time she has placed her name in the record books. She started every game of her career (71) and played more than 5,800 minutes. She is fourth in career goals with 10, third in points with 34 and owns the record for career assists with 14. She is tied for fourth for goals in a season, which she accomplished in 1999, is number one for assists in a season with 7, and tied for seventh in points in a season with 10. This season Liz has scored three goals, one being a game-winning goal; she finished 2002 second on the team in assists with four and second in points with 10.
Q & A with ETSU Head Coach Heather Henson
Q: What was your overall impression of this season?
A: Overall, looking back I am excited by how the team performed this year. Our returnees came in knowing our philosophy and style of play and our freshman class learned our tactics and options quicker than any other group we've had. With that being said it made our training sessions and games more enjoyable and put us on a track to accomplish our goals. As far as results and the pure wins and losses we were disappointed. We know how close we are, but we had games that we should have won and didn't and that is something that we must address in the off-season to prepare for next fall.
Q: ETSU had much better success this year scoring goals. Talk about the offensive improvements this year compared to last?
A: We scored 30 goals this year; the most ever scored in our program is 33. We finished the season second in goals, points and assists so we were showed that we could produce this year. From scoring 23 goals in 2001 to scoring 30 this season we obviously made improvements. Erin Ashton, Liz Smith, Lauren Kulish and Lena Summers all did a great job putting the ball in the back of the net.
Q: Talk about the improvements defensively this season?
A: We allowed 56 goals in 2001 compared to 29 this season and I am very proud of that improvement. This season we returned two red shirt defenders in senior Lena Summers and sophomore Erin Lotzer and made a team commitment to play solid team defense. Megan Morris and Kerri Burke both gave us quality minutes as freshmen throughout the season. Our keeper Heather Sanden did an exceptional job of organizing our defensive unit and was a great shot blocker for us this year. We stuck together defensively and knew that wins would come from playing a composed attacking defense.
Q: What are your thoughts on making the tournament for the first time in school history since the SoCon began taking only the top eight teams?
A: I am very proud of our team for earning a spot in the top eight. I'm happy for our seniors who have been through the hard and sometimes turbulent times that come with beginning programs to be rewarded by ending their careers playing in the SoCon tournament. With our returnees they now know what they have to do to ensure a spot in the tournament next fall. They have a taste of what it's like to make the tournament and know they have to continue work hard to earn a spot again in 2003.
Q: What are your plans for the team heading into the off-season?
A: We have to maintain our fitness level and utilize individual workouts to strengthen each individual players games. We will continue the focus in the weight room to build on speed, explosion and overall strength on the field. The tactical focus will come form creating more scoring opportunities and experimenting with tactical situations with our spring playing dates. This spring we will need to work on the psychological side and getting mentally tougher so that they will continue their focus during the last half of the season because this year over half of the team were freshman and it can be tough.