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Quick start key for LU women's soccer squad

name="valign" top > Laurentian soccer squad leaders Jen Carbone, left, and Kristy MacKenzie, are pumped up for the 2004 season, which kicks off this weekend at home. BY SCOTT HUNTER HADDOW scott@northernlife.
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Laurentian soccer squad leaders Jen Carbone, left, and Kristy MacKenzie, are pumped up for the 2004 season, which kicks off this weekend at home.

The Laurentian University women's soccer team kicks off their 2004 campaign with a three-game home stand, which will be a pivotal launch pad for their Ontario Varsity Athletics (OUA) season.

The team hopes the home stand will provide them with the proper foundation to build a playoff team. They played York University Saturday, and host the University of Toronto today.

Last year, the squad went 1-7-2.

"I believe we will be a competitive team this year as long as our key players stay healthy," said head coach Rob Gallo. "We will battle for a playoff spot. We are focusing on preparing for each game as a must win.

"Our first three games are at home and it's critical that we go 3-0 as our next three games will be on the road. With only a 10-game schedule, it's critical to go after teams right off the bat."

Up front, the Lady Vees will rely on the offensive talents of sophomores Marissa Izma and Becky Franklin. As a rookie, Izma finished tied for 11th in OUA scoring.

"Marissa is a hard working forward, she has an excellent touch around the net and she possesses a hard shot with either her left or right foot," said Gallo. "Becky has the uncanny ability to find open players and create scoring chances for Marissa. They work well together and force defenders to make several adjustments during a game."

Another key component to the attack is Kristy MacKenzie, who has excellent one-on-one skills, explosive speed and is a threat to score when carrying the ball.

"I think the team has come together really well," said MacKenzie. "The chemistry this year has already been shown and we're going to be strong this year. We are motivated to make the playoffs because that's our goal. We are ready to step it up."

The midfield will be led by fourth-year veteran Jolene Fournier, who quarterbacks the attack. Blessed with terrific ball handling skills and great vision, Fournier is instrumental in setting up strikers and wingers.

The midfield will welcome rookie Brittany MacMillan from Winnipeg to bolster the squad.

"If our two preseason games are any indication of her talent, than we have found a real gem," said Gallo. "She's tenacious, speedy, skilled and has tremendous leadership skills which are already surfacing on this team."

The defence will be anchored by Sudbury's Jen Carbone, Sally Parent and Melynda Roach and Newcastle's Sarah Little.

"They have become a solid unit and will make it very difficult for opposing forwards to get clear shots at our net," said Gallo. "They are all physical defenders."

The bulk of the netminding duties will fall on Katie McNamara. At five-foot-eleven, McNamara has great range and will be counted on to make the big saves when needed.

The team is confident after a disappointing 2003 season.

"It looks like we have a good team," said Carbone. "We have more experience and the second year players have come back working hard. There's
pressure to make the playoffs, but we're going to take it one game at a time."

Overall, Gallo is impressed with the lineup, but knows there's still work to do.

"We want to improve our touch around the net," said Gallo. "Our chances to goal ratio has to improve. We do create a lot of scoring opportunities,
and our new assistant coach, Walter Michellutti, has been working with the strikers and midfielders to improve."


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