UK Women’s Soccer Begins Fall Practice
The University of Kentucky women’s soccer program officially kicked off its 13th season today with the beginning of fall preseason workouts. Warren Lipka, the only head coach in the history of the Wildcat program, returns with a team poised to make the school’s seventh NCAA Tournament appearance. His 2003 team extended the program’s run as the only school in the conference to qualify for all 11 SEC Tournaments. Despite a different non-conference slate and an always challenging SEC schedule, Lipka sees big things ahead for his 2004 squad.
“There is a great deal of talent returning to our squad this season, and I expect those veterans to blend with our newcomers to form a well-balanced team,” Lipka said.
Junior Ashley Schillig and sophomore Elisabeth Jones lead the Kentucky attack after solid initial seasons at UK a season ago. Schillig came to Lexington after a terrific freshman season at Marshall and dented the net four times. Jones, a Lexington Christian Academy product, made the SEC All-Freshman team a year ago after tallying three goals and two assists.
Seniors Alli Haeussler and Danielle Slupski bring a wealth of experience to the midfield, and juniors Courtney McCrudden and Jen Weakley figure to provide support in the middle. Slupski missed most of 2003 due to a knee injury but returns at full strength for the 2004 season.
As is the norm, the backfield is loaded with seasoned veterans. Seniors Erin Witchey and Jessica Laswell started all 19 matches in 2003 and, along with goalkeepers Liz Butler and Anne Ogundele, are expected to present a formidable defense. Junior Kristin Moyer further solidifies the back and sophomores Ashley Janning and Kristen Jedlo return after sitting out 2003 due to injuries.
Kentucky annually assembles one of the nation’s most difficult schedules, and this year is no different. Eight teams on the docket claimed NCAA Tournament berths a season ago. The Cats open the season on Friday, Aug. 27 against West Virginia, who finished the 2003 season ranked No. 10 by the NSCAA, in the University of Kentucky Invitational. UK welcomes Wisconsin, a traditional Big 10 power, in the final day of the tournament. Big 10 foes Michigan, Michigan State also headline the non-conference schedule, and the Cats also have dates against regional rivals Western Kentucky and Cincinnati.
SEC West Champion Auburn visits the UK Soccer Complex on Sunday, Oct. 3, while perennial power Florida comes to Lexington on Oct. 8. UK travels to Knoxville on Oct. 17 for a battle with 2003 SEC Champion Tennessee. The Cats close the season on Friday, Oct. 29 with a home date against Vanderbilt.
Kentucky heads to Ft. Wayne, Ind. next weekend for a pair of exhibition matches against Northwestern and Indiana at the IPFW/adidas Soccer Showcase.