Aug. 21, 2007
It would be unfair to overlook the Butler women's soccer team as being in the midst of a youth movement. With one of the most gifted incoming classes in the Great Lakes Region and several of the top returning players in the Horizon League, the Bulldogs have reason to be excited about the prospects of the 2007 season.
Even with nearly half of this year's roster entering their freshmen seasons with the Bulldogs, head coach Tari St. John has high expectations for the team this season.
"Youth will not be an excuse for us this season," St. John said. "We are a very young team, but everyone will have to have an impact in some way in order for us to be successful."
Butler's 2007 recruiting class ranked as the second-best in the Horizon League and the 25th-best in the Great Lakes Region according to the online soccer publication Soccer Buzz Magazine. The Bulldogs will also benefit from eight returning starters from last year, who have only winning on their minds as the season approaches.
"This year's team has a bit of an edge to them," St. John added. "It's something I haven't seen in the last three years since I have been here. They get on each other for not working hard, for bailing out of tackles and for spending too much time on the ground after a foul.
"They have created their own standard and they hold each other accountable to that. I think this will translate into a game day intensity that will make things rather difficult for opponents."
The Bulldogs will have three of their top four scorers from a season ago back up front in 2007, led by junior forward and team co-captain Angie Muir. The Carmel, Ind. native paced the team and ranked seventh in the Horizon League with six goals and 17 points while playing in the full 19 games after having her freshman campaign cut short due to injury. Butler will turn to her as the main offensive catalyst, with over a quarter of the team's shots in 2006 coming from Muir's feet.
Fellow junior and captain Jenny Southard adds another offensive source to the front after finishing with 11 points on three goals and four assists in her sophomore season. One of the more accurate shooters on the team, Southard has trained 22 of her 30 career shots on goal for a 73 percent clip.
Sophomore Carrie Twyman joins the junior duo up front after finishing tied for third on the squad with four goals in her initial season. Like Southard, Twyman has had a knack for putting the ball on the net, training 10 of her 16 shots on goal including a game-winning score. Transfer Lindsey Fox will be expected to step in to fray in her first season on the team. Fox spent her freshman season playing at Louisville, where she started in 10 of 20 matches and totaled 10 points on four goals and two assists.
Freshman Lauren Papierski will add depth up front in her first collegiate season. The Glen Ellyn, Ill. native was named the conference offensive player of the year as a senior at Glenbard High School and helped the Windy City Pride to the state title match 2006.
The Bulldogs will have to find a way to adjust to the loss of senior midfielder and 2006 all-league second team member Ashley Twehues, who is out for the season after suffering a knee injury during the past spring season. The deep Butler roster, however, will not be short of options at mid.
"Twehues was an anchor for us in the middle" St. John said, "and we relied on her to win ball in the air. To fill that kind of void, all the mids will need to step up in that aspect."
Sophomore Kenzie Kokta returns after a strong freshman season last year, where she saw action in all 19 games and finished with one goal and a pair of assists.
The Bulldogs will also be expecting a lot out of their newcomers at midfield.
Freshman Courtney Lord, the younger sister of former Butler stand-out Kate, earned all-state honors as a senior at Brighton (Mich.) High School and helped the '89 Michigan ODP Team to the 2006 Region II Championship and a third-place finish at the 2007 ODP National Championship.
Freshman Erin Duffey brings even more club team success to the Bulldogs after helping the nearby Carmel Crossfire to three state championships. She also was instrumental in earning Hamilton Southeastern High School a state title her senior season.
The Bulldogs will have additional depth with freshman Alex Shaffer, who helped Northmont High School in Clayton, Ohio to four-straight conference titles while earning all-conference first team honors as a senior.
Sophomore Abbie Kaul returns as one of the Bulldogs' top defensive player after earning league all-newcomer team honors in her rookie 2006 campaign. The Fredonia, Wis. native logged a team-high 1,702 minutes on the field, totaled five points on a pair of goals and an assist while playing stingy defense.
Senior Laura Miller will add a veteran presence in the backfield after logging time in over 40 contests in her three years with the Bulldogs, while sophomore Morgan Cox, who saw action in six games during 2006, could see significant playing time this season after an impressive preseason.
Sophomore Crystal Wright saw significant playing time in her first season, seeing action in 16 of the team's 19 contests last year, and could also be a factor in the midfield.
Freshman Sarah Phelps is expected to see considerable playing time in her rookie year after earning all-state honors as a senior at Warren Central High School in 2006. Fellow Warren Central teammate and all-state honoree Cara Burchett will also be looked upon to contribute in the back.
Senior and team co-captain Annalise Larkin will be the odds-on favorite to start in net for the Bulldogs in 2007. She boasts 23 matches played in goal in her three years, including 16 starts, and touts a solid 1.12 goals allowed average during that span.
Backing up Larkin will be newcomers Jessica Schein and Olivia Walter. Schein was a two-time all-state honoree while playing at Mentor (Ohio) High School and was named to the ODP all-state team four times. Walter also earned all-state recognition while playing at Fairview (Tenn.) High School and guided the Tennessee Futbol Club '89 Blue to the state championship in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
The 2007 season will provide quite a challenge for the young Butler squad, as six of the Bulldogs' opponents ranking among the top 15 teams in the Great Lakes Region according to Soccer Buzz.
Butler will play an exhibition match at second-ranked Illinois before battling Louisville (5), Ohio State (7), Milwaukee (8), Ball State (13) and Loyola (14) during the regular season. The slate will also feature matches against in-state rivals Indiana, Indiana State and IUPUI as well as a trip to Oklahoma for a bout with the Sooners.
"The type of schedule we have this fall is exactly what our team needs right now," St. John said. "The mentality of our team is that we want to win, and we want the opportunity to prove ourselves against some of the best. This fall we will be afforded that opportunity.
"With the strength of our competition this year, the learning curve for our newcomers needs to be short, and I have faith many of them will be stepping up right from the get-go."