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August 21, 1998

The 1997 Cavaliers advanced to the NCAA Semifinals for the first time in school history, and the 1998 version is looking to return to the elite weekend with no intentions of going home early. With a team full of international experience and led by the 1997 National Coach of the Year in Missi Sanders, the hopes are high in Charlottesville for an exciting 1998. The Cavalier defense was the top-ranked scoring defense in the country, allowing less than a goal per game en route to the nation’s #1 ranking. The defense will once again be anchored the top goalie tandem in the country, senior Ellen Wiese and sophomore Becky Worthington. These two finished 1-2 nationally in goals-against average, both allowing less than a goal per game. The two started the 1997 campaign by combining for shutouts in the first seven games of the season. Both goalies were named to the USFHA Elite Summer League teams, and Worthington gained additional experience with the United States Under-19 team, which competed in the Montreal Cup in Canada in July and took the silver medal. The backfield will be led by United States team member Lori Mastropietro, a first-team All-American selection in 1997 and a member of the US World Cup team. Mastropietro, an All-ACC selection in 1997, gained valuable experience during her stint with the National team in the spring of 1998, playing sweeper for crucial minutes in Utrecht. Mastropietro showed her offensive potential in 1997, scoring 12 goals for the Cavaliers and was the fifth-leading scorer for Virginia. Just in front of her on the back line will be two members of national teams, including seniors Frances West and Kara Ariza. West is a member of the US Under-23 squad who competed in the Canada Cup at the end of June. She will be joined on the back line by four-year veteran Kara Ariza. Mastropietro, Ariza, and West started all 23 games for the top-ranked Cavalier defense in 1997. Veteran senior Amy Broadwater will look to use her four years of team experience to help steady the backfield, and she will be assisted by sophomore Kristy Sott and freshmen Sara Dillon and Mason White.

The midfield will be very explosive in 1998, with United States team members and seasoned veterans appearing everywhere across the field. Michelle Vizzuso, a member of the senior national team along with Mastropietro, will look to maintain her first-team All-American form in 1998. She set a record in 1997 with 21 assists and for the second year in a row notched double-digit totals in goals and assists, the first Cavalier in school history to do so. She will be assisted in the midfield by both talent and experience, with US Under-23 team member Laura Lindsay and seniors Melissa Hayes and Erin Jones utilizing their tested game awareness. Sophomore Julia Richardson will add to the mix, and two freshmen will also contribute to the tenacity of the Virginia midfield. Jessica Coleman and Carrie Goodloe, both members of the United States Under-19 team, will look to contribute as they arrive on Grounds for the first time. The front line will once again be focused on maintaining high offensive pressure, with three-time first-team All-American and US team member Meridith Thorpe leading the Virginia attack. A former ACC Rookie of the Year, Thorpe will combine her three years collegiate experience with her international experience to provide valuable leadership for the younger players. She will be joined on the front line by a fellow ACC Rookie of the Year, Meredith Elwell. Elwell and fellow forward Lorraine Vizzuso are both members of the national programs; Elwell is a member of the Under-23 team and Vizzuso plays with the Under-19 team. They will be assisted on the front line by junior Natalie Crane and sophomore Liz Lopez. Once again the Cavalier schedule is one of the toughest in the country, and it starts with the inaugural ACC-Big 10 Challenge in St. Louis, pitting the nation’s top two conferences in the country. The Hoos will face Ohio State and perennial top-ten Northwestern in the opening pair of games. The road does not get easier for the Cavaliers as they take on fellow 1997 NCAA participants Northeastern and Massachusetts in the next two games. A pair of dates against defending national champion UNC highlights the always tough ACC schedule, and in-state rivals James Madison and Old Dominion promise to be tough games for the Cavaliers. But the Cavaliers look to capitalize on their international and national experience and earn a trip to the national semifinals in Philadelphia

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