August 22, 2005

Retooled Gauchos Prepare for Challenging 2005 Season

Aug. 22, 2005

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara women's soccer team will enter a strange new world in 2005.

For the first time since the 2000 season, the Gauchos will be playing without forward Jennifer Borcich, a three-time Big West Offensive Player of the Year and four-time First Team All-Big West selection. Borcich finished her UCSB career as the school's third all-time leading scorer.

The loss of Borcich, however, has not left the cupboard bare, as the Gauchos return several starters from a team that won the Big West regular season title in 2004. Of the returning starters, three, forward Allie Kueny, midfielder Darci Gwartz and defender Katie Cooper, earned All-Big West recognition in 2004, and a fourth, goalkeeper Jamie Considine, has been a starter in each of her first three seasons.

In 2004, Kueny ranked second on the team in goals scored with five. She also had four assists for 14 points. Kueny will team-up on the forward line with another junior, Chandi Bickford. Last year, although starting just four matches, Bickford led the Gauchos in assists with 10, adding three goals as well. An outstanding all-around athlete, she was with little question the most improved player on the team last year. If Bickford's skills continue to develop, she could become one of the most dangerous offensive players in the Big West.

"Allie was a real spark for us last year," said seventh-year head coach Paul Stumpf of one of his team captains. "She brings a great deal of energy to the field and this year we expect her to run longer and impact games for longer periods of time. She works very hard and is very emotional and she has the ability to be a leader for us.

"Down the line I envision a leadership role for Chandi too," predicted Stumpf. "Her work ethic and the development she's made are outstanding. I don't know that we can expect the same improvement from last year to this year as she showed last year, but she has improved technically and tactically. She will start if she is healthy."

In addition to the returning duo, UCSB will look to some newcomers at the forward positions. Freshmen Genelle Ives (Dana Hills, Calif./Dana Hills HS) and Michelle Russell (San Diego/University City HS) should immediately receive significant playing time.

"Genelle will bring to us a lot of pace up top," Stumpf said. "She is a very good offensive player with good size, an attacking mentality, and she is a very good finisher. Michelle is a big, strong, fast and technical player, who is expected to challenge for playing time as a freshman up front."

UCSB was dealt a blow to its midfield in the spring when two-time All-Big West honoree and one of the team's captains Kristyn Bright injured a knee. She will sit out the 2005 season but should return for her senior season in 2006. The loss of Bright means that Gwartz, a junior and another captain who was selected honorable mention all-league in 2004, is the most experienced player in the midfield. Last year, she played in all 21 of the team's matches, making 20 starts, and tallied two goals and six assists for 10 points. Gwartz will be joined, among returnees, by sophomores Nicole Remmenga (20 matches, one assist), Kathleen Prieto (15 matches, one goal and one assist) and Sally Domitrovich (four matches). Prieto, who will be more of a defensive midfielder, and Remmenga have battled injuries, so health is the key with them.

"Darci is so competitive and she has emerged as one of our leaders because of her hard work," stated Stumpf. "She will be one of our quarterbacks in the midfield this year and from box-to-box I expect her to be one of our most important players.

"I also expect Dip (Prieto) and Nicole to play more important roles this year," he said. "With them, it's really all about being healthy. If they can stay healthy, they'll play."

Sophomore Kandice Mclaughlin (West Hills, Calif.), a transfer from Michigan, is perhaps the most intriguing addition to the Gaucho midfield. As a freshman in 2004, she started all 22 contests for the Wolverines, scoring two goals and assisting on one. At Michigan, McLaughlin played primarily defender, but at UCSB she is expected to play central midfield on a more full-time basis.

"I am really excited to have Kandice in our program," Stumpf said. "We originally recruited her out of high school as a defender, but it turns out that she can also play in the central midfield. She loves to shoot and is a great ball striker. She has very good size and a competitive nature that will be important for us."

Stumpf also expects one freshman to vie for playing time in the midfield. Katie Smith (Yorba Linda, Calif./Mater Dei HS) impressed in preseason training camp and put herself in a position to log some minutes. In addition to outside midfield, she could also play some at wide striker.

Senior Katie Cooper leads the Gaucho defensive corps. She was one of just two players to start all 21 matches last season and she earned Second Team All-Big West honors following the season. A stay-at-home defender, Cooper not only did not score in 2004, she did not even attempt a shot. She will be joined on the backline by sophomore Jessie Steinberg, who started 20 matches as a freshman. Katie Dwyer, another sophomore, played in 17 matches in 2004, starting a pair. She should compete for one of defender positions left vacant by graduation.

"When Katie (Cooper) plays to her ability," Stumpf began, "it allows us to play with three defenders and to attack more. Jessie got great experience last year and we expect her to be even better this year. Katie (Dwyer) is smart and fundamental and she is a good on-the-ball defender. She is also good at starting our offense and if she is fully healthy, she will be a very good player for us.

A pair of transfers are also expected to battle for defensive spots. Junior Nikki Huber (Upland, Calif.), who played two seasons at Mt. San Antonio College, and sophomore Katrina Wright (Vancouver, B.C.), who played the 2004 season at UNLV, will contend for playing time. McLaughlin, who is expected to play primarily in the midfield, could also move to the backline on occasion.

"Nikki is going to be a central defender for us," Stumpf said. "She is a very smart player and she is good at organizing the defense. She is also a technical player and we will expect her to bring some of her experience to our young squad."

In goal, Considine, another team captain, returns for her fourth season as a starter. Last year, despite battling injuries, she started 15 matches and posted 10 wins. She also recorded 58 saves and a solid goals against average of 1.13. In 2005, Considine is expected to be backed-up by freshman Kelly Soler (Moraga, Calif./Campolindo HS).

"Jamie has matured in each of her four years," Stumpf said. "This year she wants to take on part of the leadership role. With her experience and dedication, I expect a very good year from her and, in fact, we will lean on her quite a lot."

Overall, while 2005 may be a strange new world for the Gauchos, with the emergence of several key returnees and the addition of a number of talented newcomers it could also be an interesting new world.

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