No. 25 Soccer Cats Welcome Newcomers
Sept. 10, 2001
When women's soccer coach Warren Lipka received the devastating news that his All-Southeastern Conference forward Elizabeth Ramsey suffered a torn ACL in a club soccer game last spring, he knew that a gaping hole in the Wildcat offensive attack must be filled if Kentucky was to advance to post season play in 2001.
"As a coach, you fear that phone call," Lipka said. "The primary concern is if she's OK how the family is doing and how she's dealing with it. Second, you must keep the team positive and finally, you're left with the responsibility of finding athletes to step up and contribute in her absence."
Lipka, celebrating his tenth season at the helm of the Wildcats, can rest a little easier knowing that four athletes have accepted his invitation - and challenge - to pick up where Ramsey, UK's all-time single-season assist record holder (11 in 1999), left off.
The job of finding the net for Kentucky, currently ranked No. 25 nationally by Soccerbuzz.com, has been bequeathed to four new Cats, all transfers and standout players on their previous teams. General, the reinforcements have arrived.
Senior forward Kate Qually came to UK in 2000 after two solid seasons at San Diego State. This year, sophomore Kim Jedlo crossed the Ohio River from Cincinnati, junior Courtney Pollock said goodbye to the Indiana Hoosiers while sophomore Amber Wilson left the "Big House" in Ann Arbor for the Bluegrass of Kentucky. Combined, the quadruplet brings 29 goals, 15 assists and 73 points to the Wildcat attack. While at SDSU, Qually recorded the fourth hat trick in Aztec history by sending three goals past Indiana while garnering an assist en route to a 5-0 shutout on Sept. 12, 1999. She was named Mountain West Player of the Week for her efforts.
"We saw Kate when we played against San Diego State out in Las Vegas in 1999 and we were immediately impressed by her tenacity and aggressive style of play, Lipka said. "She is very active and as a striker, she takes a lot of pride in defending."
In 2000, Qually was one of six Wildcats to finish the season with double-digits in points scored as she tallied four goals and two assists for 10 points. She came to Kentucky because she admired the coaching philosophy as well as UK's nationally accredited journalism program. "Coach Lipka and coach (Tim) Bennett's coaching style really appealed to me," Qually said. "They relate well to the players and create a true family atmosphere the entire athletic environment at UK and its dedication to winning was the selling point."
Jedlo, a 2000 Soccerbuzz Great Lakes All-Freshman team selection, begins her first season in Lexington after finishing as Cincinnati's team leader in goals (10) and points scored (22) a year ago. Originally from Chicago, she played on the same Windy City Pride club team as sophomore defender Jen Wilkinson and it was through their friendship that Jedlo's interest in moving 79 miles south was ignited.
"Jen and I talked about me coming to UK and after I met with the coaches, I knew that I wanted to be a Wildcat," Jedlo said. "Coach Lipka and Coach Bennett are straight forward, up front and honest with you at all times and I totally respect that as a player." On the field, Jedlo is an instant goal scoring threat, as she will see considerable action in the Wildcat midfield as well as at the forward spot.
"Kim puts herself in the position of scoring goals and once she gets in a rhythm, she is a very dangerous player," Lipka said. She is an extremely hard worker, she runs and defends well and she has excellent technique. Kim does all the little things on the field it takes to get the edge."
After two seasons in Bloomington, Ind., Pollock realized that it was time to return to the Commonwealth, as she is a native of Louisville. Before excelling on the collegiate scene, Pollock made a name for herself by earning two-time All-State, All-District, MVP and Scholar Athlete honors at Assumption High School. "I really liked the team dynamics, how the team stuck with each other on and off the field," Pollock said. "Everyone supports each other here at Kentucky and I knew that I wanted to be a part of a program like that." Pollock saw action in 18 games as a Hoosier and scored the first goal of her career in a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati on Oct. 28, 1999. "Courtney is an excellent defender, she works very, very hard on her fitness and knows the game extremely well she's almost like a coach in that aspect," Lipka said. "She is always positive and brings that positive outlook to our team."
Wilson was hired after an impressive resume caught Lipka's eye. Leading Michigan to a second-round NCAA Tournament appearance last year, she finished the 2000 campaign as the Wolverines' second leading goal scorer (9) while chalking up 23 points for the season. The 1999 Ohio Division I Player of the Year at Lakota West High School, Wilson started in 20 of 23 games for the Maize and Blue last season and tied for the most game-winning goals with three. After one season in Ann Arbor, team chemistry and the direction of the program attracted Wilson to the Wildcat family.
"Kentucky just felt like home to me," Wilson stated. "I was impressed with the coaches, players and the tradition of soccer here at UK. Everyone is a family and we all work together to achieve our goals." "Amber is the defensive midfielder we've been looking to get for years," Lipka said. She has proven that she can put the ball in the net at the collegiate level and she has truly impressed us with her ability to cover so much ground laterally. Amber is a great athlete and once she gets really comfortable and understands our system, she has the ability to be one of the top midfielders in the SEC."
After a 2-0 start and a top-25 ranking, UK and the new residents of the
Commonwealth - to paraphrase a famous song by Stephen C. Foster are
proudly singing: "The sun shines bright on my new Kentucky home."