2005 Texas Tech Soccer Season Preview

The 2005 Red Raiders open the season with lofty goals under first-year head coach Neil McGuire.

The 2005 Red Raiders open the season with lofty goals under first-year head coach Neil McGuire.
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Aug. 15, 2005

The 2005 season marks a new era in the Red Raider soccer program. The changes are evident in a new head coach, a group of new talented players mixed with many determined returners and most importantly a new attitude. This season, first-year head coach Neil McGuire takes the reigns of the program and has personally challenged each of the players and coaches to "Raise the Bar" and do their part in everything that they do to take Texas Tech soccer to the next level.


This season's team should have more experience than in previous years, returning 15 letterwinners from last season including seven players who drew at least 10 starts. A talented group of nine newcomers, which includes eight freshmen, join the program this season and will provide much needed depth for the team and press many of the returners for playing time at several positions.


The Schedule...

This season in preparation for play in the rugged Big 12, the Red Raiders will take on a challenging non-conference schedule. The non-conference slate is highlighted by a pair of teams from the Big 10 Conference, Northwestern and Minnesota, that will visit Lubbock on the weekend of Sept. 2-4. Overall, Tech Head Coach Neil McGuire looks forward to the challenge that this season's schedule brings.


"I think that is a very fair schedule for our level of play. We are going to be tested in a number of games this season, in both conference and non-conference games. How we respond to those challenges will ultimately determine our success."


The Big 12...

The Big 12 Conference has proven year in and year out to be one of the toughest leagues in America for women's soccer. Last season the conference sent five teams to the NCAA Tournament and all five advanced beyond the tournament's first round.


"The conference is probably going to be as difficult as it has ever been this season. The teams at the top have reloaded, the teams in the middle have closed the gap by doing a very good job in the recruiting process and the teams that have not been successful are doing a good job at attracting some talent to their programs to make them competitive at the highest level."


Leadership and strengths of the team...

"The way I coach I expect every player, freshmen through seniors, to be leaders on the field and within the program. I'm a big believer in trinsic motivation. The seniors are going to have the ability, because of their age, to steer the direction of the other players. But I certainly expect everyone to share in the responsibility of making this team successful."


"I think that their off the field chemistry is something that has been impressive to me and the other staff members. The team gets along very well, but now we need to translate that off the field chemistry into on the field chemistry and I think that we made a large step forward in the spring of making that happen."


A Closer look at the Team by Position...



Leading the charge offensively this season, Tech returns last season's leading scorer Priscilla Esquivel and 2003's leading scorer junior Jennifer Vasquez. A year ago as a freshman, Esquivel paced the attack for the Red Raiders, tallying 15 points on seven goals and posted a pair of multiple goal games. Vasquez tallied a pair of goals last season after scoring a team-high four in 2003. Also returning this season will be senior Kim Warren, who has posted nine points in two seasons since transferring to Tech from Western Kentucky prior to the 2003 campaign. Sophomores Kim Cypert and Ashley Reed also return after enjoying successful seasons in their first years in Lubbock. Kimmie Davis, a senior transfer from BYU, as well as freshmen Kellye Robertson, Chessa Purser, Lauren Fricks and Shanna Brown will also be in the mix for the Red Raiders at the forward position.


"I think that the style of play we will end up playing this season will be determined on the fitness level when they first come in," said McGuire. "If they are very fit we will be able to play high pressure, but if we are not very fit as a team we will have to use more of a counter attacking style. Our forwards are talented and athletic, when it comes to our incoming players, they will be able to make an impact if they come into the program fit."


"I think that Priscilla Esquivel proved herself to be a solid forward in the spring, she is certainly a talented player and can create pressure very well. Kimmie Davis, a transfer from BYU, brings a level of athleticism and dynamic soccer personality to the team. Some of our incoming players, Kellye Robertson, Chessa Purser should be able to contribute. Chessa is more of an athletic forward, while Kellye is a player who can play a variety of roles. I think that all of our players, if they are healthy, can provide some pressure for us up top."



In the midfield Tech returns three-year starter Karen Stephens, who has tallied 53 consecutive starts, and junior Jenna Wetzel, who has provided offensive pressure with 46 career shots. Sophomore Lauren Lothrop will also see time in the midfield after posting a pair of goals and five points in 2005. Freshmen Shannon Sims, Rachel Schwind and Lauren Crosby also join the ranks of Tech midfield players this season.


"Karen Stephens is not someone who leads vocally, she leads more so by what she does on the field. She works very hard and is constantly busy trying to give our team an advantage in the offensive end of the field. We also have Jenna Wetzel, who should be a big contributor after she performed well in the spring. We have several others who will also give us contributions in the midfield and I feel that we are going to be better prepared this season depending on what system we decide to run."



Defensively, the Red Raiders return a pair of solid performers in juniors Meghan Blume and Ana Morton, but will need several young players to step up. Sophomore Alex Aton started eight games and appeared in 10 others in 2004 and should see a large role this season. Freshmen Amy Mathiak and Taylor Redus will be counted on for playing time on defense for the Red Raiders as well.


"I think that our defense is an area where we are talented in, but not particularly deep. With Ana Morton and Meghan Blume we have some experience, plus several players who saw some action as freshman, we have several talented players who are back this season."



The Red Raiders return three well qualified goalkeepers this fall. The trio will push one another for playing time and will serve as one of the team's strengths. Seniors Megan Knauss, 27 career starts, and Beth Lippert, 18 career starts, both bring veteran presence and leadership to the squad but will be pushed by sophomore Tina Rincon, who showed strong play as a freshman.


"I think that our goalkeeping situation is one of the best anywhere I've ever been. At other schools we normally had one very talented goalkeeper, a close second and a not so close third. Here all three goalkeepers are very talented. Beth Lippert is a very good shot stopper, while Megan Knauss is extremely quick off the line and Tina Rincon is a combination of both. So we are in a very fortunate situation and the hardest thing will be picking one player over another."




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