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Irish to test young soccer team

Aug. 23, 2004

Bears kick off play with 4 seniors,

11 freshmen

By ERICA DELEON, staff writer

The Baylor women's soccer team will begin its 2004 season on Friday as they travel to the University of Notre Dame. Notre Dame entered the NCAA tournament last season as the second-ranked team in the country. In addition to facing the Fighting Irish, the Bears will face nine 2003 NCAA tournament teams this season.

"The Big 12 is the toughest conference in the country," head Coach George Van Linder said. "Last year, eight of the 11 teams made the NCAA tournament, so we wanted to start off and prepare our players right away for what they can expect at that level. Playing Notre Dame is a perfect test for us to get us ready for the conference season."

Senior forward Ginny Rosario-Tull thinks the schedule will definitely prepare the team for the conference season.

"The Big 12 conference is so tough," Rosario-Tull said. "In other conferences there might be a weak team where you know you're going to go in and win, but in the Big 12 there's not a team like that. It's going to be a tough game every time you step on the field, so it's an extremely difficult conference."

Van Linder is preparing for his second season at Baylor. The Bears were 7-9-2 overall and 2-6-2 in the Big 12 last season. Although he and his staff are rebuilding the program, they still have high expectations for the team, he said.

In their first season under Van Linder, the Bears beat the University of Nebraska. The victory meant a lot to the team, he said.

"It was a big shock and I think now they expect to have those kind of victories," Van Linder said. "Before last year it was more of a one big victory every year kind of thing, and now we've kind of changed that mentality."

Junior midfielder Tiffany Boshers said she agrees with Van Linder's assessment, but thinks this year will change that type of mindset.

"I think our mentality is a little different," Boshers said. "Last year we had a strong team, but our record definitely didn't reflect on our talent. Now we see one game at a time and not just the big games."

The Bears lost seven seniors to graduation, five of the seven were starters and two were team captains. This year there are four seniors and 11 freshmen. Van Linder will be looking to the seniors for the leadership the team needs.

"I've never been more excited about the season than this year," Boshers said. "We've got some great talent coming, and I think the future is going to be uplifted."

Rosario-Tull and Boshers are the 2004 team captains.

"It's a huge honor," Rosario-Tull said. "Melissa Humke and Candice Riley were our team captains last year and they were huge to our team ... I just hope I can do as good as they can and I know Tiffany is going to. Tiffany and I are on the same wavelength of how we want this team to go and how we want to deal with the team, so I'm really excited about this upcoming season."

Van Linder believes the two will do a great job because of their experience and leadership skills.

"They complement each other well as captains and I think as a whole the players look up to both of them for what they bring on the field and off," Van Linder said. "They've kind of seen it all, and I think that's what's great about them. They've been here and they've seen the days when it's been a little dark, and I think they're real excited about the future. They're a big reason that we can talk about the future."

Baylor will play Notre Dame Friday in South Bend, Ind., and will open their season at home when the Bears face Rice University at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 at the Betty Lou Mays Soccer Fields.