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2002 Season Outlook

The 2002 soccer season for the University of Southern Indiana women's team may hinge on one of the basics, chemistry. Head Coach Bill Wilkins will have to play the role of a chemist as he tries to mold 11 returning players and nine newcomers into the 2002 team.

After graduating 13 starters in the past three years, the Eagles had numerous new faces in the starting line-up last year. The result was a scoring drought during the conference season, as USI was only able to score six goals in nine contests.

The Eagles should have a jump on the offensive end this fall with the return of three of the top four goal scorers from last season and the addition of a Division I transfer.

Leading the returning goal scorers is senior forward  Megan Fitzler (Maryland Heights, Missouri). Fitzler tied for the team lead with four goals scored, including a game winner. 

Following Fitzler is junior forwards Darlene Dippel (Evansville, Indiana) and  Aisha Earle-Smith (Spring, Texas). Dippel, who set a USI single game record with nine points in the match with Oakland City University, had three goals, while Earle-Smith posted three of her own. 

Earle-Smith also returns to full-time forward duty as a junior after playing part-time in the midfield last season. The forward scored seven and had 19 points up front as a freshman.

To supplement the returning forwards, Wilkins added youth and depth with the addition of freshmen forwards Alisann Shetler (Evansville, Indiana) and Brooklyn Gant (Evansville, Indiana).

Shetler was All-City and All-District in 2001at Mater Dei High School, notching 17 goals and 14 assists as a senior. Gant was a three-time Most Valuable Offensive performer; first team All-District and second team All-SIAC during her four years at Central High School.

The Eagles should have more offensive pop from the entire midfield with the addition of sophomore midfielder Courtney Reeder (Carbondale, Illinois). Reeder, an All-Atlantic Sun Conference selection last fall, had 28 points on 11 goals and six assists as a freshman.

Joining Reeder in middle are four seniors and a sophomore. In their final season are seniors Jenny Wessel (St. Louis, Missouri), Pleasant Lant (Chandler, Indiana), Rachael Meier (Seymour, Indiana); and Jill Hejlek (St. Louis, Missouri). 

New to the middle this year for the Eagles will be freshman  Sherry Johnson (Carmel, Indiana). Sherry Johnson joins her sister on the squad after lettering in soccer and track at Carmel High School.

In the defensive backfield, USI is led by senior sweeper Aimee Muller (Hilton, New York), junior back Robin Petty (Montgomery, Indiana), and sophomore midfielder Jennifer Johnson (Carmel, Indiana). Muller and Petty started every game last season for the Eagles, while Jennifer Johnson started ten of the 16 contests.

To complete the backfield roster, Wilkins has brought in a transfer and two freshmen. Sophomore Lisa Stucki (Evansville, Indiana) returns home to Evansville after a year at Division I Samford University, where she played in seven games as a freshman.

Wilkins stayed local with the addition of freshmen Amy Balczo (Evansville, Indiana) and  Ali Beal (Ft. Branch, Indiana). Beal was ISCA All-District and NSCAA/Adidas Scholar Athlete All-Region as a senior and was All-County all four seasons at GSHS. 

Beal also finished her career as GSHS’s all-time leading scorer and four-time Most Valuable Player.

Between the posts, the Eagles have senior goalkeeper Aude de La Salle (France) leading the way. De La Salle, who set the USI single match record for saves twice as a junior, hopes to lower her 2.01 goals against average as a senior.

De La Salle is joined in goal by freshman Heather Eickhoff (Evansville, Indiana). 

Highlighting the 2002 schedule are a pair of tournaments at the University of Indianapolis. The first tournament will match USI with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's Hillsdale College and Grand Valley State University while the second tournament will pit USI against GLIAC foe Mercyhurst College and the West Virginia Athletic Conference's Wheeling Jesuit University.

At Strassweg Field, USI will host non-conference matches with University of Montevallo and Missouri-Baptist College. 

On the Great Lakes Valley Conference schedule, USI will host  the University of Indianapolis, Kentucky Wesleyan College, Quincy University, Saint Joseph's College, and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. The GLVC also has changed the GLVC Tournament structure for 2002. 

The GLVC has moved the first round of the GLVC Tournament from Wednesday to Sunday, with highest remaining seed hosting the tournament finals the next weekend. The tournament also has been increased to include eight teams.

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