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2000 Women's Soccer Preview
For the 2000 Amherst women's soccer team, eight starters return from a talented 1999 squad that finished 11-2-3 en route to a school-record ninth-consecutive post-season bid, a run to the semifinals of the ECAC tournament.

With the NESCAC's transition to a full playing conference complete, the Jeffs will have their work cut out for them if they hope to extend that streak to 10, with nine of their 14 games scheduled against their foes in what has become the nation's strongest conference. That list includes the Jeffs' first game against Bates College since their 1-0 win in the 1996 NCAA Elite Eight, their first regular season game against the Bobcats since 1992.

The 2000 Jeffs are deep at almost every position, particularly up front, where Co-captain Alexa Faigen '01 leads a talented core of returning strikers. Joining Faigen up front is the explosive trio of juniors Heather Govern, Laura Raybould and Hallison Putnam. Putnam finished second on the Jeffs in 1999 with 17 points (7g, 3a).

In the midfield, the Jeffs will look to first-team All-New England selection Cathy Poor '02, who posted a team-best 26 points in 1999 (9g, 8a), to lead the way. Katelyn McCabe '03, voted the team's Most Improved Player in 1999 after a six-goal, three-assist rookieseason, and Sarah O'Keefe '02, who saw limited action in 1999 due to a collarbone injury, will likely start alongside Poor. Seniors Lauren Eichler and Amanda Wilkinson,junior Meg Martin and sophomore Brianna Porco give the Jeffs one of the deepest midfields in the NESCAC, as they look to return to the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in seven years.

Defensively, the Jeffs return four starters from the 1999 squad that finished 12th in the nation in scoring defense. Katie Shipley '03, who started every game of her rookie year at sweeper, is joined by Co-captain Meg Riley '01 and Margaret Rubin '02 in the backfield, while Caetie Ofiesh '02, Jen Sielicki '01 and Brianne Watkins '03 will vie for the fourth starting slot. In net, third-team All-New England selection Brooke Diamond '03 returns from a sensational rookie year that included a 0.47 goals-against-average, 15th-best in the nation, and nine shutouts.

Under the new NESCAC playoff structure, the 10-team league (the NESCAC minus Hamilton College) will each play a full conference schedule, with conference standings maintained for the first time. At the end of the regular season, the team in first place in the conference will receive the top seed in the inaugural NESCAC Tournament, and will receive a first-round bye in the seven-team draw. With only the conference tournament champion eligible for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, every game will count for the 2000 Jeffs.

Nevertheless, the team is anxious for the arrival of a talented group of first-year players who will join the Amherst soccer family, in hopes that they will help maintain the level of competitiveness to which the team has become accustomed. The challenges of youth will, indeed, be very exciting.

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