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Feb. 12, 2003

The Virginia Cavaliers are ranked #3 in the IWLCA Preseason poll, as released by that organization Monday night. The Cavaliers, who finished 15-4 in 2002, advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last season and return nine starters and welcome back a starter from the 2001 campaign.

The Cavaliers enter the 2003 season with a host of veterans returning with NCAA playoff experience and a mix of youthful first-years who have already distinguished themselves at the high school level. Head Coach Julie Myers will look to develop this group into yet another nationally-recognized squad and back into the NCAA tournament with an eye on the final weekend. Andrea Pfeiffer started every game for the Cavaliers after coming off the bench in the first game and quickly established herself as a top-flight keeper. She had the highest save percentage and the lowest GAA in each of the league games and led the conference for the majority of the season. Pfeiffer will be joined by first year keeper Ginger Miles.

On defense the Cavaliers welcome back a pair of first team All-Americans in Tiffany Schummer and Lauri Kenis. Schummer, who was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy last June, picked up All-ACC and national player of the week honors while marshalling the Cavaliers’ stingy defense. A three-year starter, Schummer returns to the Cavalier lineup as a graduate student after serving as one of the captains on last year’s squad. Kenis rejoins the Cavaliers on the field after taking a year off due to an injury that she played through as a third-year. A first-team All-American from 2001, Kenis gained valuable experience last year while working with the staff on the sidelines. Courtney Muller, a two-year starter for the ‘Hoos in the line defense, is also back for Virginia as is Elizabeth Pinney, who started every game for the Cavaliers as a first-year and was named to the national freshman team. Lindsay Buchanan also started for the Cavaliers last season and her veteran leadership will be called upon frequently. Second years Ashley Dodson and Molly Urlock also gained valuable playing time last year, and third-year Laura Burns also returns to the Cavalier defense. Virginia’s depth in the backfield will be bolstered by the addition of high school All-Americans Ardith Lindsey, Julie Hauser and Meredith Lazarus.

The midfield will be run by last year’s national scoring leader Lauren Aumiller. A member of the USA National Elite team, Aumiller already ranks third in scoring in Virginia history and needs just 32 points to become Virginia’s all-time leading scorer. Aumiller led the nation last year with 106 points and became just the 14th person in the history of Division I to notch over 100 points in a season. Named the national midfielder of the year by, Aumiller earned first-team All-American honors as well as All-ACC honors after setting the school record in draw controls and notching 13 hat tricks. She will be joined in the midfield by the consensus national rookie of the year Amy Appelt. Appelt smashed every school scoring record as a first year as she scored in every game, notching 10 hat tricks and set or tied five school records. She was the Cavaliers’ second consecutive ACC Rookie of the Year and was ranked in the top-20 nationally in scoring, teaming with classmate Cary Chasney as the nation’s leading scorers among all freshmen. Morgan Thalenberg, a speedy midfielder who started every game as a second year, returns to the Virginia lineup as do Lauren Keller, a two-year starter for the Cavaliers, and Courtney Young, who led all players in appearances off the bench. Bridget Bradley and Erin Sweeney also return to the Virginia midfield, which will be strengthened by the addition of first years Chelsea Metz, Kim Connors, and Nikki Lieb, who played on the top-10 women’s soccer team in the fall.

Virginia’s attack features Chasney and Caitlin Banks, both of whom started last year for the Cavaliers. Banks, the 2001 ACC Rookie of the Year, quietly put together a solid second-year campaign that saw her earn All-Tournament honors at the ACC championships. Chasney’s scoring totals from 2002 also far surpassed the old first-year scoring records at Virginia and ranked her among the leaders in the conference in scoring after notching 9 hat tricks. The line attack will be bolstered by veterans Anne Harvey, Carol Hotarek and Ashleigh Haas, while transfer Kate Jerde also provides game experience in the attack. They welcome first year Tyler Leachman, a high school All-American.

As always, the Cavaliers face one of the most difficult schedules in the nation. All three ACC opponents were in the NCAA tournament in 2002, and in-state rivals James Madison, George Mason, Old Dominion, William & Mary and Richmond were all ranked in the top-20 last year as well. Defending NCAA champion Princeton comes to Charlottesville, as does former champ Penn State and top-20 stalwarts Syracuse and Vanderbilt, both NCAA tournament teams in 2002. The Cavaliers also face road tests at Temple and Loyola, both of which participated in the 2002 NCAA tournament.

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