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Strong defense leading Bears to victory in new conference

Sept. 20, 1996

Jeff Andresen/The LariatLori Johnson, a Carrollton sophomore and soccer team member, practices Thursday afternoon. Defensive players such as Johnson have contributed to the success the ladies' success.

Darcy McMichael

Lariat Sports Reporter

With its third shut-out of the season, the Baylor women's soccer defense has proven itself worthy against the competition.

Sophomore Lori Johnson, freshman Capt. Meghan Crona, freshman Brooke Mannie and freshman Katie Hunter have allowed few opponents to penetrate their mighty defensive line and shoot on freshman goalie Amanda Banar.

'We know each other's strengths and weaknesses, so we can cover each other really well,' Crona said.

In last Sunday's game against the University of Colorado the Lady Bears allowed only 10 shots on goal compared to Baylor's 16 shots.

'We are coming together, and with each game we are improving,' Johnson said. 'Even though we still have to tighten up in the back, we don't allow many cheesy goals.'

In the midst of practice and defeating their opponents, the defense has been learning a new strategy in which the defenders curve more instead of being a flat defensive line with a sweeper behind the three fullbacks.

'We each have a zone or area that we stay in, which makes it easier because there are always two people covering,' Manning said.

The four defenders have each already attained distinguished soccer records from their high school careers.

Johnson lettered in soccer while playing for Newman Smith High School in Carrollton, and during her senior year she was named second team all-district and team MVP.

Mannie was named defensive player of the year for 1996, leading Arlington Martin High School to regional quarterfinals her senior year and to the state finals her sophomore and junior seasons.

'We have gone to state every year for the past five years and had people go to Texas A&M and schools in South Carolina to play soccer,' Mannie said. 'I have two silver medals at home from state championships.'

Crona received all-region and all-state honors while attending Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo. She was also nominated for all-conference player of the year her senior year.

'My high school in Colorado went to state almost every year, so I guess we were really good,' Crona said.

Hunter received first team all-district honors all four years while playing for J.L. McCullough High School in the Woodlands. She was also recognized in 'Who's Who in Sports' three times and she was chosen as South Region all-star her senior year.

Even though all four players have come from completely different schools in Texas and Colorado, they have been able to jell together and help lead the Lady Bears to an already successful year.

'I think we have done well, considering we have had to learn a new form of defense,' Crona said.

The Lady Bears practice every day for two hours. They do a variety of running exercises, drills that allow game-like situations, and occasionally some weight training.

'We have so many girls and everyone is fighting for a position,' Johnson said. 'You can't be lackadaisical at practice, and that keeps the intensity up.'

Their practice schedule often depends on the number of games they will have to play that week.

'Usually, when we have two or three games in a week we don't do a lot of running,' Manning said. 'We have a recovery time, which just loosens us up.'

Since conference play just started last weekend for the Lady Bears, they know that not all their games will be shut-outs.

'Texas, A&M, and Nebraska are definitely the top teams in our conference, but I think they are the ones with the pressure on them,' Johnson said. 'If we, as a first year program, come in and beat them, then it would definitely be a big upset.'

The Lady Bears have the weekend off from games but will play again at 4 p.m. on Friday Sept. 27 against Missouri in Columbia.


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