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Aug. 20, 1997

Florida State Women's Soccer 1997 Preview

As the Florida State soccer program continues to grow, each new season brings about unprecedented experiences and challenges for the young Seminoles. The 1997 season will serve along these lines as there is only three returning seniors, yet the upperclassmen out-number the sophomore and freshmen for the first time in program history. When the program started just two short seasons ago, Head Coach Heather Kerby-Nelson put together a core of freshmen athletes who call 1997 their junior season.

The 1996 season saw Kerby-Nelson and the Seminole soccer progam achieve what it had set out to do all along. Win! The 1997 season is no different as far as outlook is concerned. Just one starter from last season's 12-7-1 squad will not return as 1996 point and goal scoring leader Kelley Poole graduated. Coincidentally, she will rejoin the team as it's manager for the '97 season.

Returning to bolster the Seminole lineup are a number of players with extensive starting experience: All-ACC and All-Region goalkeeper Melissa Juhl, Co-Team MVP Nicole Sedgwick and assist leader Kasey McCall, plus 20-game starters Alex Osorio, Janine Lavoie, Angela Bonaffino and Justina Torres. Osorio and Lavoie have also started in all 39 games of the program's two full seasons completed. In addition, the Seminoles return another group of players with several starts during the '96 season: Janna Walkup (17), Erin Grimsley (12), Lauren Lynch (7), Molly Nye (7), Allison Hogan (5), Leslie Del Rio (2) and Katie Lunn (2).

Eight outstanding athletes highlight the 1997 recruiting class in: transfers Jill Ford (George Mason) and Taryn Cervi (British Columbia), plus six freshman with all-region and state MVP honors, not to mention experience within the Olympic Development Program.

The incoming freshmen contingent contain four defenders and two midfielders. In that, the defenders are led by all-american defender Stephanie Dietrich, with all-region players Dee Foard, Rachael Watkin and Ashley Halter. The midfielders are just as decorated with region stars April Murphy and Sally Shelgren.

Ford, a junior transfer from George Mason University, was a two-year starter for the Patriots. Prior to college she was the Florida High School Female Athlete of the Year and an All-American with Orange Park High School located near Jacksonville, Florida.

Cervi, a highly decorated Canadian senior transfer from the University of British Columbia continues the connection that Kerby-Nelson has with the "Great White North." This past June, Cervi was named to the Canadian National team and earned her first "cap" against the United States. She would be the fifth Canadian prep star to join the Seminoles in the past three seasons.

The Seminoles schedule in 1997, as always, pits the Tribe with highly experienced opponents from the nationally strong Atlantic Coast Conference, plus many more from around the southeast. While the Noles enjoyed an equal amount of home games as they had road games last season, just six of 20 games will be played at the Seminole Soccer Complex in 1997.

Added to this year's schedule are six new non-conference opponents: Alabama-Birmingham, Elon, South Florida, Stetson, UNC-Greensboro and Wofford.

With the advantage of five home ACC games last season, FSU will play just two in Tallahassee in '97. The home games are highlighted by perennial Top 10-ranked Maryland and Duke, with regional opponent Stetson and SEC-foe Louisiana State added in.

Here is a look at the position breakdown:

Forwards
The Seminoles bring back a veteran frontline as they enter season number three. Last season most of the scoring came from the striker position, in which the team offense revolved around. Without having Poole in the line up, some players will need to step up into a more dominant role.

The most anticipated performance will come from Erin Grimsley. She came on strong as a true freshman in '96, starting most of the season at the left wing. She finished tied for third overall on the team with 12 points, adding four goals and four assists in 12 starts. She was second with two game-winning scores.

Alexandra Osorio, who is only one of two players to start in all of FSU's 39 matches will anchor the frontal attack. Osorio was among the team's leaders with a solid 31 shots on goal and nine points off of three goals and assists, culminating in the team's Red Dog and Coaches Awards. She endured throughout the summer to return to training camp stronger than ever, and will be a key asset in '97.

Junior transfer Jill Ford comes to town from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., where she spent the first two years of her career. For the Patriots, Ford was a solid player and starter, scoring nine goals and four assists. Her NCAA tournament experience should offer the team maturity as the Seminoles look to gain national recognition.

Bolstering the attack will be Kasey McCall, who started in 19 of 20 games last season scoring a goal or and an assist in the season's first seven contests. She finished the season with second on the team with 24 points off of nine goals and a team-leading six assists.

Janna Walkup returned to form in 1996 after a season-ending injury occurred during the '95 contest. One of the taller and stronger players on the team, FSU will depend upon Walkup's experience as she leads the Tribe into 1996. She scored two goals off of just seven shots last season.

Two newcomers to the Seminole attack are April Murphy and Sally Shelgren. Murphy comes to Tallahassee from Tulsa, Okla., where she excelled at the forward positon earning all-state honors. Her speed and tenacity make her a significant asset to the program. Shelgren, a native of Niceville, might be the most raw player on the field. She brings speed, strength and natural ball-winning ability.

Midfielders
It seems like the Seminoles have stockpiled at this heavily demanding position. Most of Kerby-Nelson's recruiting over the last two seasons and some in '97 took place in the midfield.

When the 'Noles were in a must-score situation last season, Coach Kerby-Nelson inserted Canadian national team player and University of British Columbia transfer Nicole Sedgwick from her defensive post. Eventually, Sedgwick anchored the midfield where she finished the season with 26 shots on goal, while adding three goals and assists for a total of nine points. She also put in a game-winning score and and an assist.

Taryn Cervi, a former teammate of Sedgwick's at UBC, will once again play together. She was recently named to the Canadian National team, earning her first "cap" in a match against the United States. Cervi's dominant style of play and Sedgwick's explosiveness will set the tempo for FSU Soccer in '97.

The flank attack will be anchored by Justina Torres and Lauren Lynch. Torres, who transferred into the program from St. Thomas University in Miami, was a 20-game starter last season for the 'Noles. Over the past two seasons Lynch has stepped in for 19 starts and has come off the bench in an overall 37 matches. With the a large amount of game-time experience the pair also bring to the flank great speed and impressive one-on-one skill.

Last season's Rookie of the Year, Angela Bonaffino, returns to fortify the Seminole midfield. The former Canadian junior star started all 20 games for FSU in '96, finishing tied for third on the team with 12 points on four goals and assists. The left-footed center has one of the softest touches in the ACC and will prove beneficial in '97. She will be a force on set plays.

Although freshman Sally Shelgren enters her first season of major Division I-A soccer, she will compete for time in the central midfield. Her work rate and ball-winning ability will cease the opponent attack.

Adding depth to the midfield are Katie Lunn, Jessica Driscoll and Leslie Del Rio.

Defenders
Coach Kerby-Nelson's recruiting in '97 focused on defense and will be seen within a new more aggressive philosophy. Four of the eight incoming players will find significant minutes in the Seminole backfield.

At marking back, will be returners Janine Lavoie, Molly Nye and Janna Walkup, with newcomer Dee Foard. Freshman Stephanie Dietrich will serve as a stopper/defensive midfielder.

The 1995 season's MVP and 1996 20-game starter, Lavoie, will once again be a force inthe backfield. She led all defenders with seven points along with her three goals and one assist in '95 and added valuable leadership throughout the 1996 season. Her lone assist of the year was a game-winner against Jacksonville State. She is only one of two players who have started all 39 games of FSU's soccer history.

Foard will be called on for significant playing time in '97. Her tenacity and speed make her a scoring threat from her defensive post. According to Coach Kerby-Nelson, Foard's "no fear" attitude will find a nice fit within FSU's aggressive defensive scheme.

Nye stepped up in 1996, as she was named the team's Co-Most Improved player. She had seven quality starts in 18 appearances last season. Walkup has the size, strength, speed and the ability to step and shut down some of the more talented players within the ACC.

Dietrich's role on the team is two-fold. She brings all-american experience to the defense. Her heighth, ability to dominate the air and mobility as a central defender will serve the 'Noles well in shutting down the opponent attack.

Ashley Halter and Rachael Watkin will share time at sweeper. The pair bring various styles of play to the Seminole backfield. Halter plays a simple one/two touch game, while Watkin is very smooth on the ball and enjoys attacking from the back.

Goalkeepers
After she captured the attention of opposing ACC coaches in the 1995 season. Melissa Juhl returned in '96 with another impressive performance.

In 1995, Juhl single handedly thwarted numerous scoring attempts. She helped put FSU's name into distinction with two conference records.

Following the 1996 season, Juhl was named to the All-ACC second team and then the NSCAA All-Southeast Region team. During the season, she earned a place on Soccer America's Team of the Week after FSU's shut out of 10th-ranked Clemson.

Returning keeper Jamie Gurtov brings back a season of experience that will provide insurance to the Seminole goal. Gurtov appeared in four matches in '96, recording three saves off of 10 shots.

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