Kennesaw State Football Inks 18 on National Signing Day

Owl new image001.jpg

Class Features 10 Offensive Players, 8 Defensive Players

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KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 3, 2016)  Kennesaw State University signed 18 recruits during National Signing Day, head coach Brian Bohannon announced today. 

The third signing class in school history includes 10 offensive players and eight defensive players, plus one four-year transfer who signed a grant-in-aid.
Bohannon and his staff's recruiting efforts resulted in 10 all-state players and three region players of the year from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. The group consists of three defensive backs, three linebackers, three running backs, three offensive linemen, two defensive linemen, two wide receivers, one quarterback and one kicker.
"When you look at the overall class what you see is us trying to establish depth. You see every position on our roster has been touched. When we went into this we wanted to hit every position. Last year's class was very small, more transfers than it was freshmen," Bohannon said. "We wanted to up the ante from where we were in year one to year three in recruiting. As I tell our football team, and I am very honest with them, we are trying to out-recruit you every year. We're trying to get better players every year. If you aren't doing that you're not trying to get your program better.

"There is no question that this is a great class from top to bottom. We addressed needs of depth per position," Bohannon added. "I think there were some areas offensively when you look at the backfield and up front along the offensive line, you look at the inside game, something I've talked about, those are areas that we needed to get better. You look at depth on the defensive side, we added scholarships at linebacker and added some depth in the secondary, so this was really about establishing depth and this class will come in and have an immediate impact on our program."    
The list of all-state players include Bryson Armstrong (LB, 5-11, 195, Marietta, Ga. / Kell HS), Chris Byrd (LB, 5-9, 205, Gainesville, Ga. / Gainesville HS), Dustin Clabough (DB, 5-10, 170, Alcoa, Tenn. / Alcoa HS), Nick Eldridge (OL, 6-2, 295, Hoover, Ala. / Hoover HS), Allen Johnson (DL, 6-4, 235, Douglasville, Ga. / Allatoona HS), Christian Kinsley (K, 6-3, 215, Lexington, S.C. / Lexington HS), Bronson Rechsteiner (LB, 6-0, 210, Acworth, Ga. / Etowah HS), Brandon Simmons (RB, 6-0, 220, Pleasant Grove, Ala. / Pleasant Grove HS) and Zach Thompson (OL, 6-4, 295, Swainsboro, Ga. / Emanuel County Institute).
Bohannon and his staff also added four-year transfer quarterback Daniel David (6-1, 210), who transferred from Appalachian State and is currently enrolled at Kennesaw State. David is resident of Hoschton, Ga., and played his school football at Mill Creek High School in Hoschton where he was an all-state performer.  ...

Fifth Third Bank Stadium Game Day Atmosphere Ranked No. 10 in FCS

Owl new image001.jpg Ranks All 125 FCS Football Stadiums

KENNESAW, Ga. (Jan. 6, 2016) —Kennesaw State has only been playing football for one season, but it has already cracked the Top 10 nationally as Fifth Third Bank Stadium is listed No. 10 on's Top 25 ranking of Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) stadiums. 

The rankings take into account food and drink choices, atmosphere, neighborhood, fans, access, return on investment, and special features.
The Owls played their inaugural season in 2015 and posted a 6-5 overall record, including a 5-1 mark at home.
"This Top 10 ranking is a great testament to all the hard work put forth by members of the athletics department, stadium employees, and the support provided by the university's administration," head coach Brian Bohannon said. "I can't tell you how phenomenal our fans were this season and how much energy they provided our players and coaches. Everyone from our fans, students, marching band, community and sponsor partners were instrumental in us posting a 5-1 home record and helping make Fifth Third Bank Stadium a special place to play.
"I want to thank our fans and staff, and congratulate them on providing the Kennesaw State football with one of the top FCS game day atmospheres in the country," Bohannon added.
Fifth Third Bank Stadium was one of three Big South Conference venues included in the Top 25, joining Coastal Carolina's Brooks Stadium (No. 6) and Spangler Stadium (Gardner-Webb) rated No. 18. With Coastal Carolina heading to the FBS level next season, Fifth Third Bank Stadium will rank as the top venue in the Big South Conference.
Montana's Washington-Grizzly Stadium topped the poll.
Season ticket renewals for the 2016 season will be sent out later this month with prices and The Owl Fund donation levels remaining the same as they were in 2015. Season tickets are priced at $99 per seat plus a donation to The Owls Fund.
Fans interested in purchasing season tickets for the first time can log onto add their name to the Wait List.
For more information, please contact the Kennesaw State Athletics ticket office at (470) 578-6957.  

Fifth Third Bank is the Official Bank of Kennesaw State Athletics. Fifth Third Bank Stadium, the signature athletics landmark on the Kennesaw State University campus, is a world-class facility that has been recognized as one of the premier multi-use outdoor athletics venues in the country. In the fall of 2015, it became the official home of Owls football team and is also home to Owls soccer and lacrosse.

Complete Rankings (PDF) | 2016 Printable Schedule | 2016 Schedule (HTML) | Ticket Information

Inaugural Southern Poly hall class inducted

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
Editor's Note: Southern Poly Athletics Hall of Fame members also were recognized during half-time at Kennesaw State's Black & Gold Game.
by MDJ staff reports
April 02, 2015 12:43 AM |
The first class of the Southern Poly Athletics Hall of Fame was recognized inside the former university’s gym Friday, and then at Kennesaw State’s spring game the next day.<br />
&lt;BR&gt;Photo special to the MDJ
The first class of the Southern Poly Athletics Hall of Fame was recognized inside the former university’s gym Friday, and then at Kennesaw State’s spring game the next day. 
Photo special to the MDJ

Though Southern Poly has since become a part of Kennesaw State, the former university’s athletic greats were honored this weekend.

Southern Poly celebrated an intercollegiate sports history that covered more than six decades with the induction weekend for its Athletics Hall of Fame. Honorees were celebrated as part of a banquet on the Southern Poly campus Friday, then during the Kennesaw State spring football game Saturday afternoon.

“The Hall of Fame banquet Friday night and the recognition at the spring football game on Saturday were very special,” said Matt Griffin, a former baseball player, coach and athletic director at Southern Poly, and now an assistant AD at Kennesaw State. “I am truly thankful to all of those who helped make it possible. I am honored and humbled to be amongst the greatest student-athletes and coaches to ever compete at Southern Poly. This was a weekend we all will never forget.”

Friday night’s ceremony inside Southern Poly’s Hornets Nest in Marietta celebrated the 46 inductees into the hall of fame, with more than 300 in attendance. Jim Cooper, another former Southern Poly employee who transitioned to Kennesaw State, served as the master of ceremony, while former Hornets coaches Kom Momeni (men’s soccer) and Mike Helfer (men’s basketball), who both earned places in the hall of fame, also spoke. 

A tailgate party Saturday drew nearly 300 fans, with many of the hall of famers and their guests joined by alumni from both Southern Poly and Kennesaw State. Inductees present at the Owls’ spring football game were recognized at halftime. 

Griffin announced in April 2014 that Southern Poly would establish the hall of fame to acknowledge the accomplishments of past athletes, coaches, special contributors and teams. In all, 35 former athletes, nine coaches/administrators and three for distinguished service were inducted. Griffin was the only one chosen in two categories, as both a student-athlete and a coach.

Read more:  The Marietta Daily Journal - Inaugural Southern Poly hall class inducted

Teams score high marks

NCAA Division I


KENNESAW, Ga.  (Feb. 6, 2015) — For the first time since transitioning to the NCAA Division I level in the fall of 2005, Kennesaw State University has three athletic programs in national Top 25 rankings.

Under head coach Mike Sansing, the baseball team will open the 2015 season ranked as high as No. 19 by Baseball America. Head coach Jay Moseley and the men’s golf program is currently No. 21 in the Golfstat rankings.

WHAT’S HAPPENING HERE? KSU / What: Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 






What: Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center



Kennesaw State University


Start date: Oct. 10, 2013

Estimated end date: December



DPR Hardin Construction


Size: 176,000 square feet


Cost: $38.7 million


Compiled by Ricky Leroux, photo by Kelly J. Huff

Powered by TECNAVIA Copyright © 2014 Marietta Daily Journal 09/07/2014


Editor's Note: This is a photo cutline feature documenting progress on the Dr. Betty L. Siegel Student Recreation and Activities Center.

AJC's pictorial essay featuring the Kennesaw State football staff

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constituion
Excerpt of Article: 

The Kennesaw State football staff

Owls' college football team debuts in 2015

Bob Andres

The Kennesaw State University football team coaching staff, including head coach Brian Bohannon, gathered Tuesday for group photo shoot at Fifth Third Bank Stadium. The Owls will start playing college football in the 2015 season.


Editor's Note: Click on the link to view the AJC's photo album.

Kennesaw State hires strength coach

Name of Publication: 
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Excerpt of Article: 

By Doug Roberson

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jim Kiritsy was announced as Kennesaw State’s strength and conditioning director for football on Thursday.

Kiritsy is a 2009 graduate of Norwich University and most recently served as associate director for strength and conditioning at The Citadel, where he worked with the men’s basketball and wrestling programs.

Kennesaw State will open football in 2015. The Owls will begin practicing in September under the supervision of coach Brian Bohannon.

KSU homecoming weekend to bring festivities, crowds

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal and Kennesaw Patch
Excerpt of Article: 
by Hannah Morgan
October 18, 2013 12:29 AM

KENNESAW — Parking will be scarce this weekend at Kennesaw State University, as students, parents, alumni and staff flock to the campus to celebrate homecoming.

KSU kicked off this year’s festivities Wednesday, with a lip-synching contest and has exciting events planned for the rest of the weekend, including sporting events, outdoor games, a pep rally, fashion show and a performance by hip-hop star Juicy J.

Homecoming has been celebrated at KSU since the mid-1980s, but the festivities current students are familiar with were revamped in 2009, when Michael Sanseviro, dean of Student Success, was hired.

This year, Sanseviro expects about 5,000 people to visit campus throughout the weekend.

The Student Government Association will be having an “Owl’s Outreach” service day today from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., where it will be collecting donations to send to active members of the military, homeless shelters and veterans, Sanseviro said.

The school’s soccer team will face off with Stetson University Friday night, followed by a fireworks show.

Saturday evening, at 5 p.m., parents, alumni, students and faculty are invited to attend the school’s homecoming parade, which will start at the KSU Student Center and end at the school’s Convocation Center.

The parade will lead right into “Flight Night,” where the women’s and men’s basketball teams will be introduced for the first time this season, alongside the members of the homecoming court, and the school’s new live mascot, an owl who is yet to be named.

Caleb Lee, 22, a senior at KSU, is planning on attending many of the weekend’s events. The history education major is on the homecoming court and is excited for the chance for his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, to compete and spend time with other school organizations throughout the weekend, he said.

After the courtside celebration, participants will head out to the campus green to hear a free performance by local Kennesaw band, Battlefield Collective, and country music star Chuck Wicks.

“I’m really looking forward to Saturday,” said L.J. Jacques, a junior communications major. She will be walking in the parade with the residence life float, she said, and then heading to see Wick’s performance.

On Sunday morning, parents and students are invited to a brunch at 11 a.m., followed by a school-wide fashion show, featuring the children of faculty, as well as students of KSU.

Hip-hop artist Juicy J will round out the weekend’s celebration with a performance in the school’s Convocation Center at 7 p.m.

A team of about 60 people have been actively involved in the planning of this year’s event for about a year, Sanseviro said.

“KSU really is awesome, and it’s nice to see the school spirit,” Jacques added

Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - KSU homecoming weekend to bring festivities crowds


Additional media coverage below:

Kennesaw Patch

News | Schools


Kennesaw State University Homecoming 2013

Kennesaw State University Homecoming 2013 will include multiple sporting events, concerts, field games, a pep rally, a fashion show and reunion socials.

This section is supported by our

Homecoming 2013 takes place Oct. 16 through 20 and will include multiple sporting events, concerts, field games, a pep rally, a fashion show and reunion socials.

Major events and activities are planned for the centerpiece of the celebration on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Homecoming 2013 highlights for Friday, Oct. 18, include:

  • “The Big Event: Our Owls Outreach,” volunteer event hosted by the KSU Student Government Association, on the Campus Green, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
  • Soccer Match and Fireworks Show, KSU vs. Stetson, 7 p.m., Fifth Third Bank Stadium

Homecoming 2013 highlights for Saturday, Oct. 19, include:

  • Homecoming Parade & Owl Prowl, starting at the KSU Student Center and ending at the KSU Convocation Center, 5 p.m.
  • Flight Night Basketball Preview & Homecoming Court Presentation, first public appearance of KSU’s live owl mascot at the KSU Convocation Center, 7:15 p.m.
  • Free concert featuring Chuck Wicks, KSU Campus Green, 8:45 p.m.

Homecoming 2013 highlights for Sunday, Oct. 20, include:

  • KAB Fashion Show and concert featuring Juicy J ($3-$5 tickets for non-KSU students), KSU Convocation Center, doors open at 6 p.m.

For the full schedule, parade route and details for Alumni and the Parent & Family Association, visit: http://www.kennesaw

Kennesaw State University Homecoming 2013 runs Oct. 16-20


Thousands expected on campus for sporting events, concerts, field games, fireworks and more

KENNESAW, Ga. (Oct. 14, 2013) — Homecoming 2013 kicks off Oct. 16-20 and will include multiple sporting events, concerts, field games, a pep rally, a fashion show and reunion socials.  Major events and activities are planned for the centerpiece of the celebration on Saturday, Oct. 19.

Homecoming 2013 highlights for Friday, Oct. 18, include:

“The Big Event: Our Owls Outreach,” volunteer event hosted by the KSU Student Government Association, on the Campus Green, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Soccer Match and Fireworks Show, KSU vs. Stetson, 7 p.m., Fifth Third Bank Stadium

Homecoming 2013 highlights for Saturday, Oct. 19, include:

Homecoming Parade & Owl Prowl, starting at the KSU Student Center and ending at the KSU Convocation Center, 5 p.m.

Flight Night Basketball Preview & Homecoming Court Presentation, 2013 Hall of Fame Inductees: 1994 Baseball Team, and first public appearance of KSU’s live owl mascot at the KSU Convocation Center, 7:15 p.m.

Free concert featuring Chuck Wicks, KSU Campus Green, 8:45 p.m.

Homecoming 2013 highlights for Sunday, Oct. 20, include:

KAB Fashion Show and concert featuring Juicy J ($3-$5 tickets for non-KSU students)

KSU Convocation Center, doors open at 6 p.m.

For the full schedule, parade route and details for Alumni and the Parent & Family Association, please visit:


Oct. 16-20, 2013

Kennesaw State University, 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw, GA 30144

Parking will be available at no cost in the East Parking Deck. For directions and a campus map, visit:





Twice the bridesmaid, Stanford wins first title

Name of Publication: 
The Marietta Daily Journal
Excerpt of Article: 
by William Bretherton
12.05.11 - 12:01 am
The dogpile begins as Stanford’s players celebrate their NCAA championship Sunday at KSU Soccer Stadium. 
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull

KENNESAW — The Women’s World Cup championship was a story of firsts.

For Stanford’s women’s soccer team, it was its first national championship win. For Kennesaw State and Cobb County, it was the first time that a national championship had been hosted within their confines.

After finishing as the national runner-up each of the last two years, Stanford beat Duke 1-0 on Sunday before an announced attendance of 9,241 at KSU Soccer Stadium.

“I’m really proud that we finally broke through and won the national championship,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “Stanford has a tradition of excellence in athletics and academics, and we want to keep that going on the soccer stage. I’m really proud, but now we are going to have to do it again and keep this rolling.”

After seven goals were scored in Friday’s two semifinals, Stanford (25-0-1) scored the lone goal of the championship game in the 53rd minute, when midfielder Teresa Noyola finished a cross from Camille Levin into the back of the net near the back post.

“(Finishing scoring chances) was going to be the difference at the end of the day because you don’t get many opportunities at the end of the day at this stage,” said Noyola, who was named the tournament’s most outstanding offensive player. “(Levin) played a great ball, and it shows how connected that we are at this stage. I knew exactly what she was going to do, and she knew I’d be there.”

Levin was playing forward as a midfielder after starting the game as a defender. She was marked by two Duke defenders, one of which blocked Levin’s first cross. However, Levin was able to get back on the ball and cross the ball into the box before it rolled across the touchline.

“Wherever I am on the field, I just do what I can for this team,” Levin said. “I like to get forward, and I like to get involved in the attack and play my role.”

Though Stanford scored the game’s lone goal, it was not the limit of the offense. Over the course of the final 20 minutes, Duke (22-4-1) put immense pressure on Stanford’s goal and had several chances to tie the score.

From 30 yards out off a deflection, Duke midfielder Kaitlyn Kerr struck a shot for the top-right corner, but it was tipped just wide by Stanford goalkeeper Emily Oliver — fittingly named the tournament’s most valuable defensive player — high and wide for a corner kick in the 74th minute.

Three minutes later, forward Laura Weinberg had a chance from close to the penalty spot when a cross was delivered to her left foot, but she finished the chance just high of the crossbar. Later, there was a through ball that forced Oliver to come off her line near the top of the penalty area. She was unable to punch the ball away with her hands, but Stanford’s defense recovered to keep Duke’s Kim DeCesare from having a clean chance on an open goal.

After starting the match with four defenders, the Blue Devils moved to three after the second media timeout with nearly 20 minutes to go. With less than 10 minutes to go, Duke moved all but two defenders forward into the attack.

The game-tying goal never came.

“I think, the last 20 minutes, the way we played, was the way that we needed to play the entire game,” Weinberg said. “And, yes, we did have an amazing game, but we needed to get the equalizer. We did everything we could, but it didn’t come.”

None of Duke’s starters were seniors, though, leading many to believe the Blue Devils’ chances of returning to the Women’s College Cup next fall are high.

“That’s something that we will obviously deal with as we go forward from here,” Duke coach Robbie Church said. “This was a very hungry team, but they really enjoyed the journey. That will motivate them. There is no question in my mind that we are more than capable of getting back here.”

But there is no mistaking that Sunday belonged to Stanford and its top four seniors — Levin, Noyola, Lindsay Taylor and Kristy Zurmuhlen — who were each making their fourth trip to the Women’s College Cup and were able to finish their careers with the championship that eluded them.

The Stanford seniors finished their careers with a 95-4-4 record.

“I feel like this win caps off four tremendous years at Stanford,” Ratcliffe said. “The last four years, this team has been incredible and they have shown great character to have all of those setbacks and comeback and fight through to win a national championship.”

© 2011

More coverage below from The Marietta Daily Journal ...


Many thanks to Cobb community for support of KSU athletics
12.05.11 - 12:00 am


As I sit in the stands after Stanford has been crowned the Division I Women’s Soccer National Champion, I am proud, energized, grateful and humbled by the multitude of people who made this NCAA College Cup a reality and an outstanding success. My thanks start with everyone in Cobb County, especially the community, business and political leaders. In the KSU family, we must thank President Dan Papp, the KSU leadership, the KSU Board of Trustees and the KSU Foundation. Several other people who made it a reality include Coach Rob King, Norman Radow, Fitz Johnson, Richard Corhen, Bob Heflin and Katie Egloff.

Many, many thanks to the countless volunteers, the KSU Sport Management program, KSU Public Safety, Owl Athletics and all of the unnamed personnel who contributed to this successful event.

Finally, thank you to the NCAA for selecting Kennesaw State University to host this prestigious event which, in turn, allowed us to highlight the wonderful attributes of Kennesaw State University and Cobb County.

Vaughn Williams
KSU Director of Athletics

© 2011
KSU a winner after event’s conclusion
by William Bretherton
12.04.11 - 11:59 pm
Its week as host of the Women’s College Cup now over, there was nothing but praise for Kennesaw State, offering a hopeful future for the university’s future of hosting NCAA events.
<Br>Staff photo by Laura Moon

KENNESAW — As the Women’s College Cup concluded Sunday, and Stanford hoisted its first championship trophy, it gave the NCAA and the event’s organizers a chance to sit back and reflect.

Tickets for Women’s College Cup were virtually sold out weeks in advance. With help from a national youth showcase being held in and around the Kennesaw area, there was a big draw of soccer interest around the tournament.

Sunday’s announced attendance at KSU Soccer Stadium was 9,241, just shy of Friday’s tally of 9,253. Although the stadium has a listed capacity of 8,300 seats, standing-room-only tickets were sold to satisfy the general public’s interest.

“Everything about this championship has been successful,” said Meredith Jenkins, chair of the Division I women’s soccer committee. “Everything that has been done in support of this event has been done to the highest level. We had great crowd support and the fans really came out and watched the games.

“All in all, it’s just been an outstanding tournament.”

Jenkins, a senior associate athletic director at Auburn, wasn’t the only one who was impressed by the effort the stadium’s primary tenants — Kennesaw State and the Atlanta Beat — put into executing an event of this caliber.

“This is our first time being in the final four, and it was everything that you dream about,” said Duke coach Robbie Church, whose team lost to Stanford in Sunday’s championship. “The people at Kennesaw State were absolutely great. The hotel people, the venue — an unbelievable venue. Hopefully, (the NCAA) will come back and will want to have it come back. I think it was a great showcase for women’s soccer, and it was an exciting game.”

Before coming to Kennesaw, the Women’s College Cup had rotated between Cary, N.C., and College Station, Texas, for eight years, and the event will be held in San Diego in 2012.

Kennesaw State would be eligible to host the Women’s College Cup again as early as 2013. According to Jenkins, the chances of that happening — if the university applies again — would be pretty good.

“I think that the committee will view Kennesaw very favorably because they’ve done such a great job in the past,” she said. “The facility is so great, so I know that they will be considered for future sites. That is something we will be discussing in January, where the next site will be.”

© 2011
Cardinal hope third time is the charm
by William Bretherton
12.04.11 - 12:31 am
After two years 
as the 
runner-up Lindsay Taylor, left, and her Stanford teammates will have another chance at that elusive title when they face Duke today at KSU Soccer Stadium.
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull

KENNESAW — Regardless of who wins today’s NCAA championship between Duke and Stanford, Kennesaw State University and Cobb County will get to witness the fruits of its labor as hosts of the Women’s College Cup.

“We’ve only been in Division I for a short period of time,” Kennesaw State athletic director Vaughn Williams said. “To be able to hold an event of this magnitude at the Division I level is very significant and important for our growth with regards to letting the world know that we are not a secret any more, and letting everyone know that we are capable of holding events of this magnitude.

“We plan on building from this event. ... It’s a very special thing, and I’m just glad that the Cobb County community, and the KSU community, rallied to make it a successful event for all.”

For today’s combatants on the field, a national title would carry an altogether different meaning.

Stanford (24-0-1) will be playing in its third straight championship game, still looking for its first national title.

“We’re very excited to be playing in the championship match,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “We’ve worked very hard to get back in this stage and we are hoping to follow through and, ultimately, be the champions.

“We’re fortunate to get another chance. Usually, you don’t get second chances in life. We’ve got to learn from the past experiences and I think it’s got to be great motivation — the feelings that we’ve had with not winning the final game. I’m hoping that those feelings are going to come up and we’re going to fight and play as hard as we can to get the win.”

Top-ranked Stanford goes into today’s game against Duke (22-3-1) as the favorite. Like the Cardinal, the Blue Devils are also looking for their first national championship. Although Duke has not had the same number of opportunities in recent years to earn that title, that makes it no less a dream.

“Being the first to get it done makes it really special, and I definitely want to be a part of that,” said Duke midfielder Nicole Lipp of her motivation to play at Duke. “I saw the potential and I really trusted (coach) Robbie (Church) and the way he recruits. Duke is a really special place, so I think that would be great to get the first national championship.”

In order for either side to win its first title, time of possession will be key considering both offenses were able to score a combined seven goals in Friday’s semifinal game.

According to Church, that will not be an easy task.

“Stanford is one of the top possession teams in the country,” Church said. “There’s no question about that. Their playing shape is very good, and so, when we do have the ball, we have to keep the ball.”

In its last two trips to the finals, Stanford was held scoreless in 1-0 losses to North Carolina and Notre Dame. And while earning possession will be important, the Cardinal’s four seniors also realize that finishing those offensive chances will be paramount.

“It’s going to be extremely important,” midfielder Teresa Noyola said. “At this stage, you have to put away your chances, and, hopefully, we will be able to finish our chances off multiple opportunities to score.”

© 2011
Cardinal find their way back to finals
by William Bretherton
12.03.11 - 02:06 am
Stanford’s Kristy Zurmuhlen, right, takes the ball as Florida State’s Toni Pressley comes in on defense in Friday’s first semifinal.
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull

KENNESAW — After reaching the Women’s College Cup for the fourth straight year, Stanford will now have the opportunity to play for a national championship once again after defeating Florida State 3-0 on Friday at KSU Soccer Stadium.

“This has always been our goal, to get to the championship game and, ultimately, become the champions,” Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said.

Runner-up the last two seasons, the Cardinal (24-0-1) will play for their first championship Sunday against Duke, which beat Wake Forest in Friday’s other semifinal.

In order to get to this point, Stanford had to beat Florida State’s gambit. The Seminoles (18-7-1) played a high back line in order to create more offensive pressure and have a better chance to control possession.

For the first 20 minutes, the move appeared to pay dividends, but in the 22nd minute, Stanford made Florida State pay for its tactic.

On a corner kick, Stanford cleared the ball out of the penalty area and countered with a 2-on-1 break toward the Seminoles’ end of the field.

Chioma Ubogagu and Teresa Noyola passed the ball back and forth before Ubogagu received the final pass and beat Florida State goalkeeper Kelsey Wys through her legs for the first goal.

“It was a big stage for me, because I am a freshman,” Ubogagu said. “This team has been really focused all year, and we really wanted to get here, so I felt really comfortable.

“Scouting this team, we talked about how they sent too many players up on corners. Emily (Oliver) played a great ball out, and I had my teammate there to support me.”

Florida State coach Paul Krikorian believed that moving his defenders closer to the offensive end of the field would have given him a better chance to knock off the nation’s top-ranked team.

“I thought that we feel as though we have a lot of very good players and can make adjustments given our opponent — the situation,” he said. “Obviously, with this being a semifinal game, our kids felt fairly rested following the quarterfinal game. We had a week to prepare our kids, and we thought that we could take a higher line (Friday).”

More than their aggressive defensive line, the Seminoles just weren’t able to find the back of the net.

“You know that you are only going to get a certain number of chances against a very good team, and you have to capitalize on those chances,” Krikorian said. “I thought that we had a couple of pretty good looks. We struck the ball at the goalkeeper, and we missed, but that’s the way that this game goes.

“If you don’t put the ball in the back of the net, then you’re going to be punished.”

Unlike its opponent, Stanford was able to make the cutting passes and find the open space it needed to in order to finish its offensive opportunities.

Two minutes after the first goal, Ubogagu again found space, this time on the near post. She crossed the ball low for Kristy Zurmuhlen, who finished the ball into the low-left corner of the net.

After their first two goals, the Cardinal dominated the run of play.

Stanford scored its final goal in the 64th minute when substitute Madeleine Thompson put a cross into the penalty box from approximately 35 yards out that found forward Alina Garciamendez, who tucked the ball under the crossbar with a header that beat Wys.

© 2011


Duke dominates second half
by William Bretherton
12.03.11 - 02:05 am
Duke’s Kaitlyn Kerr (5) tries to gain possession in a race with Wake Forest’s Riley Ridgik in Friday’s second semifinal. 
<Br>Staff photo by Todd Hull

KENNESAW — In what looked more like a title fight than a national semifinal, Duke beat Atlantic Coast Conference rival Wake Forest 4-1 on Friday at KSU Soccer Stadium.

With the win — in front of a stadium-record announced crowd of 9,253 — Duke earned the opportunity to face off against Stanford on Sunday for the its first national championship in women’s soccer.

“I think it’s everything that we’ve ever dreamed about,” said Duke forward Mollie Pathman, who scored twice in the second half. “I grew up watching the College Cup in Cary, N.C. I always wanted to be there and wear the Duke uniform. It’s an amazing opportunity, and we’re really excited for it.”

In a game between conference rivals, there was no shortage of collisions, sliding tackles and physical play.

“It’s a rivalry,” Wake Forest coach Tony da Luz said. “We recruit the same players and it gets pretty heated, and it’s getting more heated as we go along the more times we play. It’s always physical, and Duke is a good, physical team. That’s one of their trademarks. They play every game very hard. That’s how they won the ACC regular-season championship.”

Duke (22-3-1) and Wake Forest (18-4-4) split their first two meetings of the season, with the Blue Devils winning during the regular season and the Demon Deacons winning in the semifinals of the ACC tournament.

On top of winning the rubber match, Duke was able to score more goals on Wake Forest than the Demon Deacons had allowed throughout the rest of the NCAA tournament (two).

“You study these teams,” Wake Forest defender Alisha Woodson said. “That’s all you do during the season. You study their tendencies, and we felt like we knew them, so it hurts. But we will see them again, so, hopefully, we will be able to get them back.”

In a game that saw plenty of physicality, perhaps no one example of that was starker than the game’s first goal, scored in the 43rd minute.

Off a corner kick, Duke midfielder Nicole Lipp played in a cross that deflected off several players jockeying for the ball in the box. Eventually, the ball found teammate Kim DeCesare, who, while falling down, was able to finish the ball with her left foot past Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Bledsoe got a piece of the ball, but she couldn’t stop it from reaching the back of the net.

In the second half, Pathman scored her first goal by deflecting a cross from midfielder Laura Weinberg into the lower-right corner of the net in the 51st minute.

Seven minutes later, following a hard collision outside of Duke’s penalty box, Wake Forest’s Rachel Nuzzolese drilled a shot past Duke goalkeeper Tara Campbell to the lower-right corner to cut Duke’s lead to 2-1.

The Demon Deacons’ celebration was short-lived, however, as Duke drew a penalty kick when the Blue Devils’ Kaitlyn Kerr fell down inside of the penalty box after contact from Wake midfielder Riley Ridgik.

“To be diplomatic, it could have gone either way,” da Luz said. “I thought our kid did a pretty good job getting a piece of the ball, and they kind of fell down together. Things happen in this game. It’s just the way it is. Sometimes, they go your way and, sometimes, they don’t.”

After the penalty was called, Pathman drilled the penalty kick into the corner of the net to make the score 3-1 in Duke’s favor in the 57th minute, which essentially finished off Wake Forest’s chances at a comeback.

Kerr later earned the game’s final tally when she redirected a cross from Lipp into the back of the net by beating Bledsoe to a corner kick with her head. It was her fifth goal of the NCAA tournament.

© 2011
Final four arrive in Kennesaw eyeing NCAA title
by William Bretherton

12.02.11 - 12:00 am

KENNESAW - When Florida State and Stanford take the field to start the Women's College Cup today at KSU Soccer Stadium, it will kick off one of the biggest events ever hosted by Cobb County and Kennesaw State.

For the combatants, though, that's more of a footnote in comparison to the games on the field. For top-ranked Stanford, it will be its fourth straight appearance in the national semifinals, including runner-up finishes each of the last two seasons.

"It's a tremendous accomplishment, but we have high expectations," Stanford coach Paul Ratcliffe said. "I'm proud of what we have accomplished. But, ultimately, we want to win the next two games to cap off (the seniors') entire careers at Stanford."

Meanwhile, Florida State, one of three Atlantic Coast Conference teams among the final four, is making its first visit to the national semifinals. Though the Seminoles are newcomers to the final four, Florida State knows what Stanford can do - the Seminoles lost 5-0 to the Cardinal in last year's quarterfinals - and it's part of a competitive ACC field that its coach believes prepares them for game of today's magnitude.

"We've played 25 games, and 20 have been against NCAA tournament-quality teams, so I think we are fairly battle-tested with that background," Florida State coach Paul Krikorian said. "Certainly, we know Stanford's quality, but we also know Virginia's quality and Wake Forest's quality and Duke's quality, and all of these other teams that we have had the opportunity to play against. They are an exceptional team, but we've played against a lot of exceptional teams."

In the second of today's games, ACC rivals Duke and Wake Forest will face off against one another in a rubber match of a season series that has been split thus far. It's just a sign of how tough competition the conference has always provided.

Since the NCAA crowned its first champion in women's soccer in 1982, ACC teams have made a combined 37 appearances in the Women's College Cup, led by 20-time champion North Carolina.

"Part of the reason I have so much gray hair is that we have been playing in this league for so long," Duke coach Robbie Church said. "It's a tough, tough league to play in. Once you get out of this league, you've seen everything. We've made some deep runs in the NCAA tournament because of what the ACC has done for us in the regular season."

As each team strives for a national championship - each side is going for its first title - this week's matchups also allow soccer fans and coaches and scouts of Women's Professional Soccer to see prospects for the professional ranks.

Stanford has three seniors - forward Lindsey Taylor, midfielder Teresa Noyola and all-around athlete Camille Levin - who all have the chance to play professionally next year.

Taylor is the team's top goal-scorer with 20 goals, taking the place of Christen Press, who was the No. 4 pick in last January's WPS college draft. Noyola leads the Cardinal with eight assists, while Levin has four goals and six assists after playing much of the season on the back line.

Last year, much of the attention went toward Press. This year's team has been much more balanced.

"From the beginning of the season, we knew that goal scoring would have to come from multiple players, and I think it has as far as my role in the attack," said Noyola, who played for the Mexican national team in last year's Women's World Cup. "I've always been a player wanting to distribute, (make plays) and make sure that we are getting efficient and quality chances and maintaining possession of the ball.

"I've just tried to continue to do that this year and maybe be a little more of a threat off the dribble to make sure that we can open up spaces for everybody."

For Duke and Wake Forest, their starting lineups are comprised mainly of sophomores and juniors, though the latter's sophomore stars - forward Katie Stengel and goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe - will each draw the majority of attention from opposing teams. Stengel has 19 goals, while Bledsoe has a 0.62 goals-against average, allowing just 16 total goals across 25 games.

Stengel's success may be due more to just wanting to do her job better than anyone else on the field.

"She has that mentality and the work ethic to always improve and work on her game," Wake Forest coach Tony da Luz said. "Nobody puts in more in practice or on off days than what Katie does to keep sharp.

"She's definitely not happy when she doesn't score or play well, and she holds herself to a pretty high standard. We don't want to be around her when she doesn't score. She's pretty grumpy for a few days, but she has a goal-scoring mentality. She wants to score on people, and she wants to beat people."

© 2011
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