2003 Women's Soccer Season Review

Nov. 20, 2003

The St. John's University women's soccer team's 2003 season ended in the BIG EAST quarterfinals, when the Red Storm fell in a hard fought battle to West Virginia for the second-straight season. Although the loss was disappointing, it in no way summed up the Red Storm's season. After getting off to a 1-5 start to begin the season, St. John's turned its season around, posting an 8-3-1 mark over the last 12 games and qualified for the BIG EAST Tournament for the third consecutive year.

After a rough start, in which the team dropped three-straight games, St. John's bounced back with a 3-2 win at Siena. Erin Henderson (Watervliet, N.Y.), Natasha Lee (Albuquerque, N.M.) and Mallory DiMaio (Orefield, Pa.) each knocked in the first goal of their respective careers leading the Red Storm to the win. On September 11, St. John's faced nationally ranked Notre Dame in a non-divisional BIG EAST match-up. The Fighting Irish, who dominated much of the first half, were outplayed by St. John's early in the second period. The Red Storm could not capitalize on several scoring attempts during the half, and the Irish came back and converted on the other to take the game.

Up next for St. John's was another nationally ranked squad, West Virginia. The Mountaineers opened up scoring in the first half, taking a 2-0 lead to the break. When the second half kicked off, it was the Red Storm who came out attacking. Three minutes into the second half, Holly Ryder set up for a penalty kick, the result of a West Virginia foul on Natasha Lee, and hit a shot to the lower right post. WV's Bannerman guessed right, but Ryder's shot was too far out of reach, as St. John's cut the lead to one.

Continuing their attack, St. John's worked in transition, possessing the ball from the backfield when Ryder chipped the ball over two WV defenders to Kaitlin Schmidt, who stopped the ball and chipped it perfectly over the keeper, tying the game at two with 28 minutes remaining. Each team had several chances late, but it would be WV who would capitalize and take the game 3-2.

The Red Storm beat Fordham 3-2 the following week and returned to Belson Stadium, where they played Pittsburgh to a 1-1 draw and handed Stony Brook a 2-0 loss, behind two goals from Ryder.

Northeast Division action continued with a trip to Virginia Tech and Miami in late September. St. John's dropped another gut wrenching match with a 3-2 loss to the Hokies, but bounced back to handily beat Miami, 3-0.

Behind the game-winning goal of Dominica Reina (Frankfort, N.Y.) St. John's returned to New York and beat Hartford, who had been ranked in the regional polls all season, 4-1. The Red Storm's home slate continued with a loss to Syracuse, before a 2-0 win over Providence.

On October 12, the Red Storm welcomed #20 Boston College to Belson Stadium. Making the most of her opportunities, Schmidt placed both of her two shots on goal, knocking in the game-winner 20 seconds after she and St. John's got their first look at the net. In the 59th minute, she followed up her previous shot that was saved by the BC keeper with the game-winning goal, as the Red Storm knocked off the Eagles 1-0. After recording the back-to-back shutouts, Red Storm keeper Tracey Rollings was honored as the Goalkeeper of the Week by both the BIG EAST and the ECAC.

On October 17, St. John's continued their shutout streak with a 2-0 win over Monmouth. The 2003 BIG EAST regular season came to a close on October 21 when the Red Storm lost to Connecticut, 4-1. On senior day, St. John's beat NEC Champion Central Connecticut, 3-2. With a 3-3 conference record, the Red Storm qualified for the BIG EAST Tournament as the third seed and was set to face West Virginia in the quarterfinals for the second-straight season.

The Red Storm's third seed is the highest tournament ranking in the program's history. The quarterfinal match also marks the third straight BIG EAST Tournament appearance for the Red Storm, the first time in St. John's history that a team has accomplished this feat.

The Red Storm, who were ranked 10th in the NSCAA/adidas Northeast region poll in the final week of the regular season, concluded the 2003 regular season with a 9-8-1 overall record and a 3-3-0 mark in the BIG EAST Northeast division.

The Mountaineers once again pulled out to a 2-0 lead over the Red Storm in the quarterfinal match. St. John's cut the West Virginia lead to one at 61:42 as senior Courtney Rett (Valley Stream, N.Y.) knocked in her first goal of the year. Rett, who minutes earlier had been moved up to the front line, took a feed from freshman Natasha Lee (Albuquerque, N.M.) in front of the net. A Mountaineer defender blocked Rett's first shot, but the ball retuned to her feet and she beat the keeper to the right post. The Mountaineers, who went on to win 2-1, held off St. John's remaining attack.

For the season, the Red Storm were led offensively, by the steady play of sophomore Kaitlin Schmidt (Centereach, N.Y.), but it was the new additions of freshman Natasha Lee (Albuquerque, N.M.) and sophomore transfer Holly Ryder (Plantation, Fla.) that transformed St. John's into one of the top-five scoring teams in the BIG EAST. As a team, they finished fifth overall in points with 87 and third in the conference play at 27.

Schmidt was the leader of the attack, posting team-highs in points with 21 and assists with 11, while finishing tied for second with Ryder in goals with five. Aside from leading the BIG EAST, Schmidt is tied for ninth in the nation at 0.61 assists per game. Her 11 assists ties the school single season record held by Jennifer Contesini in 1996 and Jamie Clark in 2000. In conference play, Schmidt's name again was placed near the top in the major statistical categories. In points, she is tied for second with 10 while her four assists leaves her alone in third and her three goals ties her for fifth. She was rewarded following the season with a spot on the CoSIDA Academic All-America District I First Team and was named to the 2003 All-BIG EAST Second Team.

Lee made an immediate impact in her first season as part of the Red Storm. With seven goals, she leads the team, while her 17 points places her second behind Schmidt. In conference play, Lee led all BIG EAST freshmen in goals with three and placed in the top-10 of all players in points and goals. Ryder has provided the Red Storm with a calming, yet aggressive presence in the middle of the field. While playing center midfield after transferring from Kansas this summer, she compiled five goals, tied for second on the team with Schmidt, and dished out two assists for 12 points.

After playing together for the majority of the season, the Red Storm defense began to gel as a group over the final month and a half of the season, providing a solid backline for the Red Storm attack. Led by senior Courtney Rett, St. John's allowed only 15 goals over its final 12 games. Rett, who finished her career tied for first on the St. John's all-time list in games played (77) and is second in games started (74), has been a four-year staple on the Red Storm defense. Following the year, Rett was named to the 2003 All-BIG EAST Second Team for her outstanding defensive contributions.

Throughout the season, Head Coach Ian Stone attempted to balance two starting goalkeepers by going with the one with the hot hand. His plan paid off as both sophomore Tracey Rollings (Paignton, England) and senior Gabriela Franco (Brentwood, N.Y.) made an impact in the net all season, helping St. John's lead the BIG EAST with 111 saves during the regular season. Franco saw the majority of the time early in the season, posting a team-high 54 saves, including a 14-save effort at Binghamton. On the other hand, Rollings saw the majority of the time late in the season, finishing with 60 saves and four shutouts on the year. In October, Rollings and the Red Storm defense posted three consecutive shutouts and a scoreless streak of 365:07 minutes, the second longest streak in the program's history.




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