Building off of its most successful season to date, the Utah State women's soccer program has its sights set even higher in 2000. After finishing 8-9 in 1999 the Aggies are looking towards their first ever winning season and a shot at the Big West Conference championship. With an outstanding senior class to lead the way and one of USU's best recruiting classes since the program's inauguration in 1996 head coach Stacey Enos feels she has all the tools necessary for a winning team.
"This year we have recruited exceptionally well," Enos said. "We have the strongest team Utah State has ever amassed." Utah State returns all but one starter from last season and adds five outstanding new recruits to its arsenal of talent.
The Aggies return a front line that is rich in both experience and depth. Headlining this year's returnees are standouts senior Jayme Gordy, sophomore Brigid Turner, and senior Ashley Cracroft.
"I think we have a phenomenal frontline," Enos said. "Each of these players are so individually diverse that it really causes defenses trouble."
Gordy returns for her senior season as USU's career leader in goals (30) and points (66). She is also the first Aggie to receive first team all-Big West honors after scoring 11 goals and two assists in her junior campaign.
"Gordy has proved herself every year," Enos said. "She just needs to end her career at Utah State doing as well as she has done in past years."
Sophomore Brigid Turner returns having had the most successful freshman season of any Aggie in school history. Named to the all-Big West second team, Turner led the team in goals (12) and points scored (25). After just one season of play, Turner has already left her mark in the Utah State record books, ranking second in career goals.
"Turner really proved herself last year," Enos said. "She is a sensation."
Rounding out the field of returnees is senior Ashley Cracroft. Cracroft was second on the team in assists in 1999 and helped USU to wins over Weber State and Portland State scoring goals in each game.
"Ashley is by far our smartest player. She reads the game and I like having her up top," said Enos.
Also vying for time on the frontline will be sophomore Michelle Eversman and freshman Amber Tracy (Hyrum, Utah). Eversman saw action in every game for USU last season and contributed an assist in the win over Cal Poly. Tracy comes to Utah State as a three-time all-state selection who scored 28 goals and had 22 assists throughout her high school career.
USU returns a solid midfield with senior Marnie Bartelson and junior Sara Buie at the helm. Bartelson led the team with four assists last year and ranks fourth on USU's career goal list, with seven.
"Marnie has always been the backbone," Enos said. "She goes out and gives it everything she has and is a real consistent player."
Buie is USU's current career leader in assists and will again be a force in the Aggies outside midfield.
"Sara Buie has always done a great job for us," Enos said. "She is always fit and we expect her to come in and do exactly what she has always done for us, run the flank attack."
Broadbent started in 12 games and contributed two goals on 12 shots in 1999. Clegg was an all-state selection her senior year and a Region ODP player.
Incoming sophomore and Seton Hall transfer Katie Seaman (Taylorsville, Utah) should also be a contender for a starting spot in USU's midfield.
"Katie is very fluid with the ball and she can orchestrate play very well," said Enos. "We are hoping that she can add a lot of dimension to our team."
The defense returns three starters and an additional letterwinner that will provide the Aggies with ample depth in the backfield. Once again anchoring this year's defensive strike will be Big West honorable mention selection Heather Cox. Cox has started all 52 games of her Utah State career and looks to continue the streak in 2000.
"Heather is one of the most underrated players I have ever coached," Enos said. "I think she deserves more honors. She is one of the top defenders in the conference because you just can't beat her. You can not get around Heather one on one, additionally she attacks well out of the back and creates a lot for us up top."
Junior Brittany Baugh and sophomore Megan Edge will again compliment Cox on the defense. Baugh started all 17 games for USU in 1999 and Edge should again lead the backfield, adding size and strength in the middle.
Also seeking time on the field will be junior Kennon Roeber and sophomore Catherine Jones, who both redshirted last season. Sophomore Lyndy Goodsell, who played in 15 games last year, and freshman Michelle Murri (Bountiful, Utah) will also add depth to the defense.
Sharing the responsibilities at the net has been the Aggie protocol for the past couple of seasons, but this year Enos is looking for one person to step up and earn the starting spot full-time. Competition will be tight as senior Michaela Hawes returns after starting 14 of the Aggies 17 games last season. Hawes is also USU's career leader in goals against average, and ranks second in career minutes (2,465) for Utah State.
Challenging Hawes for the starting nod will be JC transfer Tracy Brady (Bountiful, Utah). Brady comes to Utah State after two years at Dixie College where she was voted most valuable goalkeeper of the NJCAA national tournament, and named to the NJCAA honorable mention All-American team.
The Aggie women are set to face the most challenging schedule in the programs history. Utah State opens up at home with games against UNLV and Iowa, Aug. 31 and Sept. 4. USU then takes to the road to face NCAA second round qualifiers Kentucky, Sept. 8 and Indiana, Sept. 10.
The Aggies will return home to begin what coach Enos calls, "the most ideal conference schedule in terms of home games." USU plays host to Fullerton, Irvine, Pacific, and Long Beach State and then faces UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly on the road.
"This schedule is very solid, and I believe it
lends itself to a great year," concludes Enos.
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