A Page -- Aug. 18, 2011

Bay Village native Stacy Strauss begins 12th season as OU head coach; uses “Columbia Road Connection” to bring N. Olmsted’s Alyssa Balasko into Bobcat den; 11 Student/Athletes from Cleveland area high schools dot roster

‘Cats Picked to Finish Fourth in MAC East in Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll

CLEVELAND – The Ohio University women’s soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the East Division of the 2011 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Preseason Poll, it was announced Monday afternoon by the league office. Miami was picked to win the East, while Toledo is the frontrunner in the West Division.

L to R -- Bodi, Stec, Schwenke
OU has a strong Cleveland presence with Medina’s Lauren Burke and Nicolle Varney, Padua’s Veronica Rock, Solon’s Erin Schwenke, Walsh Jesuit’s Alex Stec, Lakewood native Mattie Liston, Strongsville’s Ainsley Bodi and Jackie Campo, Lake Catholic's, Paige Howard, Westlake’s Natalie Bechtel and Alyssa Balasko from North Olmsted. 
L to R -- Bechtel, Campo, Balasko
Campo, Balasko and Varney are incoming freshman.
L to R -- Liston, Varney, Howard

The Bobcats, under the direction of 12th-year head coach Stacy Strauss, garnered 40 points in the poll. Miami (68 points) is slated to finish first, while Akron (56 points) and Kent State (43 points) round out the top three teams in the East Division. Behind Ohio, Bowling Green (31 points) and Buffalo (14 points) were picked to finish fifth and sixth respectively, in the East Division.


L to R -- Burke, Coach Strauss, Rock

The Toledo Rockets are the favorites in the West Division after they were awarded 65 points. Toledo was also picked to win the MAC Tournament Championship with six votes.

Ohio, which returns 19 letterwinners and 10 starters to the 2011 roster, will begin the regular season on Friday, Aug. 19, against Wright State. The match will be played at Chessa Field and kickoff is slated for 4 p.m.

 RedHawks Tabbed Favorites to Win MAC East; Miami looks to repeat after claiming division title last year
Lutheran West’s Zanotti, Jackson’s Wiseman join NDCL’s 

Dolesh and Medina’s Sarah Flanders in RedHawk flock

CLEVELAND – After capturing its first Mid-American Conference East Division title last year, the Miami University women’s soccer team has been picked to win the division again in 2011 by the league’s head coaches, as the MAC preseason coaches’ poll was released Monday

The RedHawks received nine of 12 first-place votes to claim the East Division while totaling 68 points in the poll. Akron was selected to finish second behind Miami with 56 points while Kent State was third in the poll with 43 points. Ohio (40), Bowling Green (31) and Buffalo (14) rounded out the East Division poll, respectively.

Joining Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin alumna Katy Dolesh and Medina’s Sarah Flanders on the RedHawks this season are incoming freshmen Courtney Zanotti from Lutheran West and Danielle Wiseman from Jackson High.

Zanotti (L) and Wiseman
In the West Division, defending co-MAC regular-season champion Toledo was chosen as the favorite to capture the title with 65 points while Central Michigan, who shared the regular-season crown with the Rockets and won the MAC Tournament, was close behind in second with 62 points. 

Western Michigan was slotted third in the poll with 43 points followed by Eastern Michigan in fourth (41 points). Northern Illinois (21) and Ball State (20) finished fifth and sixth in the preseason poll, respectively.

Dolesh (L) and Flanders
Miami received one vote to win the MAC Tournament while Toledo is the favorite to win the league tournament with six votes. Central Michigan received two votes to win the tournament while Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Ball State each received one vote as well, making the ‘Hawks the only East Division team to receive a vote to win the MAC Tournament.

The RedHawks held their lone exhibition game of the year on Friday, playing to a 2-2 draw with Wright State, before winning in a penalty kick shootout, 4-1. Senior Courtney Clarke (Scarborough, Ont.) and freshman Hailey Pleshakov (Brighton, Mich.) tallied the goals in regulation for Miami while redshirt freshman goalkeeper Allison Norenberg (Palatine, Ill.) made two key saves in the shootout. 

The ‘Hawks open the regular season Friday, Aug. 19 at home against IUPUI at 5 p.m. before welcoming Morehead State on  Aug. 21 at 1 p.m. Both games will be streamed live on MURedHawks.com through the All-Access subscription package, which can be accessed here.

MAC Coaches’ Preseason Poll

East Division
1. MIAMI (68)
2. Akron (56)
3. Kent State (43)
4. Ohio (40)
5. Bowling Green (31)
6. Buffalo (14)
West Division
1. Toledo (65)
2. Central Michigan (62)
3. Western Michigan (43)
4. Eastern Michigan (41)
5. Northern Illinois (21)
6. Ball State (20)


CSU Soccer opens with Golden Flashes, 

Duquesne; Walsh Jesuit alumna Sam Salamon 

named one of three Viking captains

The Cleveland State women's soccer team begins its eighth season of intercollegiate competition when the Vikings open the 2011 season with two matches this weekend. The season opener will be on Friday, Aug. 19, when CSU heads to Kent State for a 5:00 p.m. match. 

The Vikings then host their home opener on Sunday, Aug. 21, with a 1:00 p.m. contest against Duquesne at Krenzler Field. 

The Vikings are coming off the best season in school history, finishing the 2010 campaign with a 9-8-2 overall mark and placing third in the Horizon League at 5-3. The nine overall wins and five league wins were both single season school records. 

CSU returns six starters and 13 letterwinners from last year's team and will combine that core group with 12 freshmen and three transfers to form this year's team.

REVIEWING THE PRESEASON: The Vikings played two exhibition contests during the preseason, both on the road. Here are brief recaps of the matches:

Exhibition #1: Akron 4, CSU 0 (Aug. 7, Akron, Ohio)
Akron scored a goal 16 minutes in and added three late second half goals to claim a 4-0 win over Cleveland State. Sarah Wood and Abby Crotteau both made one save each in goal.

Exhibition #2: CSU 2, Oakland 1 (Aug. 13, Rochester, Mich.) 
Natalie Daniels scored a goal in each half as Cleveland State rallied from a 1-0 deficit to defeat Oakland in the final exhibition match of the preseason. Oakland went ahead with a goal at the 18:36 mark, but Daniels tied the match at 1-1 with a tally just before the end of the first half. She scored the game-winner in the 70th minute.

Richmond Heights native Marina Taylor

2011 SEASON PREVIEW: Coming off the best season in school history, eighth-year head coach Derrek Falor has high expectations for this year's squad. Falor will blend six returning starters and 13 letterwinners with 12 freshmen and three transfers to form this year's team. Headlining the returners is senior Natalie Daniels (9 G, 5 A in 2010) who will once again anchor the midfield. She will be joined in the central midfield by junior Jaime Avona (1 A) with Shea Levi and Jess Bound (4 A) slated to play on the outside. The defense should be strong with the return of second team all-league junior Valerie Stahl (4 G) and sophomore Frederike Dubeau (1 G), who was an all-newcomer team pick last year, manning the middle of the defense. Senior Marina Taylor (1 A) and sophomore Sarah Zawie are slated to start as outside backs. Up front, Falor will rely on the duo of sophomore Taylor Vidovic (1 G, 2 A) and senior transfer Nancy Newcomer to start the season with different combinations throughout the year. The biggest question mark is in the net where CSU must replace 2010 Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year Kelly Zinkiewich. Freshman Sarah Wood will get the first chance.

Holy Name alumna Nancy Newcomer

EARLY START: When the Vikings take the field at Kent State on Friday (Aug. 19), it will be the earliest regular season match in school history. The previous earliest start to a season was last year when the Vikings won at Marshall on Aug. 22. In fact, Sunday's (Aug. 21) home opener against Duquesne would also break the school record for earliest start to a season.

VIKINGS TABBED FIFTH IN PRESEASON POLL: Cleveland State was picked to finish fifth of nine teams in the 2011 Horizon League Preseason poll that was announced on Aug. 5. Three-time defending league champion Milwaukee topped the poll with seven first place votes and 63 points. Butler was second with 52 points, while Wright State was third with 49 points and Detroit fourth with 41 points. Both WSU and UDM each received one first place vote. The Vikings were fifth with 38 points and were followed by Loyola (31), Valparaiso (24), Green Bay (18) and Youngstown State (8).

DANIELS LIKES RECORDS: Senior Natalie Daniels enters her final season atop several categories in the CSU record book. She is the all-time leader in goals (16), assists (13) and points (45).

... AFTER DOING HER DAMAGE LAST YEAR: Natalie Daniels put together the best offensive season in school history last year, setting CSU single season school records for goals (9) and points (23). She also dished out six assists, tied for the second most in a season in school history. For her efforts, Daniels, along with goalkeeper Kelly Zinkiewich, became the first two players in school history to earn first team All-Horizon League honors.

.. AND CLOSES IN ON MORE RECORDS: Natalie Daniels is close to breaking two more career records. She enters her final season ranked second in CSU history in shots on goal (73), needing eight to break Jennifer Wieand's career record of 80. In addition, Daniels is third with 118 career shots, three shy of breaking Wieand's career mark of 120.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Vikings were able to do a lot of their winning at home last year, going 7-2-2 at Krenzler Field to set a school record for most home wins in a season. It was a huge boost for CSU, which was just 11-38-3 at home during the first six seasons as a program.

THE DEFENSE DOES NOT REST: The strength of the Vikings this year could be the backline where CSU returns three starters, including two all-league players, who helped the squad set a school record for fewest goals allowed in a season (25). Headlining the list of returnees is junior Valerie Stahl, a second team all-league pick last year, and sophomore Frederike Dubeau, who was named to the all-newcomer team. Senior Marina Taylor is also back, having started 38 of the 43 career matches she has played in.

WHO'S IN THE NET??: For the first time in four years, the Vikings will have a new goalkeeper with the graduation of Kelly Zinkiewich, the 2010 Horizon League Goalkeeper of the Year. Freshman Sarah Wood is the projected starter after playing 60 minutes in the exhibition match against Akron and making one save and all 90 minutes at Oakland and posting four saves in the 2-1 win.

Sam Salamon

OH, CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAINS!!: Seniors Natalie DanielsSamantha Salamon and junior Valerie Stahl have been selected by head coach Derrek Falor to serve as team captains this season. It is the first time that each player will serve in the role.

Note: This story could also be found at S/A-Cleveland's national electronic paper, S/A-Jesuit

 And going to the Aug. 18 A Page

NEXT UP: The Vikings are back in action for one match next week, playing at Robert Morris on Wednesday (Aug. 24) at 4:00 p.m.



Nick Stephenson

Shoremen just inches away from regional soccer action; ’11 just could be the year for Avon Lake, which again avoids wimping out by taking on another heavy-hitting schedule

By Norm Weber

Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor


The Avon Lake Boys’ Soccer Program is coming off another season of growth in which it finished with an overall 9-9-2 record and won five of its last six matches ending with a tough District Final loss to Westlake.  

That .500 mark is a great start for this season and do not be deceived by what appears to be mediocrity in that record: the Shoremen played one of the toughest schedules in the state and will do so once again this year. All 10 non-conference foes on the schedule were formidable regional if not state powers, and, then, of course, as always the Southwestern Conference is one of the toughest soccer leagues in the state.

The meeting with the Demons was the Shoremen’s second trip to the District Final in three years, which turned out to be another great learning experience for the program that comes just another couple inches closer to state stardom as each year passes.

Season Preview

The Shoremen will be led by soon-to-be 4-year letter winner and Captain SR MF Nick Stephenson (All Greater Cleveland 2nd Team, ALL SWC First Team, All Lorain County First Team).  Stephenson helped his Cleveland Futbol Club U17 team to the State Cup Championship and a trip to the USYSA Regionals where he scored five goals for CFC.  Stephenson was the Shoremen’s leading goal scorer last season (16G/6A=38pts).

Stephenson’s versatility and ability to play both out wide and in the central midfield with fellow Captain and SR MF Joe Villari will be an asset for the Shoremen. 

Villari will be a 3 year letter winner and was selected by his teammates as the Anchor Award recipient.  The Anchor Award is given to a returning player from a graduating senior who feels that this player personifies what the program is all about.  Villari (1G/6A=8pts) earned All Greater Cleveland Honorable Mention and all Lorain County Second Team awards and will dictate the rhythm and tempo of the Shoremen through the midfield.


The 2010 Defender of the Year SR MF Ryan Schneider will move into the Avon Lake midfield.  Schneider (All Greater Cleveland Honorable Mention, All Lorain County Second Team) is a consummate teammate who does the dirty work to make everyone around him better.

Third-Year letter winner JR MF Alex Strimbu (All Greater Cleveland Honorable Mention, All SWC Second Team, All Lorain County First Team) returns as the playmaker for the Shoremen.  Strimbu led the Shoremen in assists last season with eleven and tallied seven goals.  Strimbu has shown great development and Avon Lake is looking for him to take it to the next level.


The Shoremen are excited to have JR MF Kevin Gjyrezi healthy and back for a complete season in 2011.  Gjyrezi (1G/1A=3pts) competes for the Cleveland Internationals U.S. Soccer Development Academy.  The Shoremen will look to Gjyrezi to help guide them through the midfield third and into the attacking third.

As the Shoremen get into the attacking third, Avon Lake will look to SR F Alex Yungvirt to put the ball into the back of the net.  Yungvirt worked his way back into form late in 2010 with a great play-off run including two terrific goals against arch rival Amherst Steele.  Yungvirt will look to build on that experience as well as his four goals and one assist effort in 2010.  Running alongside Yungvirt will be SO F James Darkow who w will be making the switch from the Shoremen defense into a more attacking role.

Darkow (1G/5A=9pts) will look to take opposing defenses on 1v1 and look to set up his teammates.

The Shoremen return six letter winners on defense and will look to them to set the tone against difficult opponents.  SR GK Zac Strimbu will be the leader in the back.  SR GK Mackenzie Bates will back Strimbu up and look to make the Shoremen deeper off the bench.

Strimbu has worked hard to bounce back from an injury and will have fellow SR D Nolan Kovach in front of him as a center back.  Kovach has done a nice job in his new role and will look to improve on his All Lorain County Second Team performance in 2010.

SR D Jordan Arch, SO MF/D Eric Mills, SO D Alex Voloshen, and SO D/M Ian Stewart all return as letter winners and contributors to the 2010 District Finalist squad.  Arch, Mills, Stewart, and Voloshen have the ability to play multiple positions and will be looked to to raise the program to the next level.

SR MF Emmet DeSmit, SR F Rob Houk, SR MF David Kuhar, SR F Michael Nock, SR MF Luke Siko, SR D Michael Twyman, and SR D Joseph Zajac will be asked to be leaders coming off of the bench and to push everyone to be better every day in training.

The Shoremen’s 2011 schedule is again peppered with quality talent from all over Northeast Ohio.  Seven of the sixteen matches on Avon Lake’s schedule competed in District Final matches in 2010.   Eight opponents also finished first or second in their respective conference final standings.

Our home opener is on Wednesday, August 24th at 7PM against the Braves of Berea.  The Shoremen travel to Westlake on Saturday, September 3 at 7.P.M. for a rematch of the 2010 Rocky River District Final, where the Shoremen fell to the Demons, 2-1.  Another big match will be on Wednesday, September 7 against Amherst Steele who is ranked #4 on the ESPN Rise Preseason poll.

Avon Lake also hosts two perennial powers Strongsville (August 27 at 7PM) and Jackson (September 10 at 7PM) who both finished in the Top Ten of the State Poll last fall.  A highlight from the Shoremen soccer program will be a return trip to the Columbus Crew Stadium to face Lake Erie League Champion and District Finalist Mentor on Saturday October 8 at 2:30/4:30PM.

With 17 Scholar/Athlete Award winners (JV and varsity), an all-state runner, and two fourth-year veterans, Solon cross country should make a good case to qualify to States in team race 

By Norm Weber
Student/Athlete-Cleveland Editor
SOLON --- Led by three-year letter winners Kelsey Aamoth and Abby Paige and 17 Scholar/Athlete Award (3.5 grade point average or better) winners, Solon’s girls’ cross country team has the know-how and experience to be a top contender in the Northeast Ohio Conference this season.

As an adjunct to the team S/A awards, nine returning varsity letter winners also received the NOC Scholar/Award (3.4 GPA and varsity letter). The other eight might have gotten it as well but JV runners are not eligible for the league academic award.

In addition to the two aforementioned senior leaders, those receiving both Academic/Athletic awards were Therese Haiss, Alyssa Hatteberg, Kia Picker, (all three two year letter winners), Kyra Douglas, Hannah Johnson, Jenny Jurewicz, and Caitlin Halperin (the latter four all one-year letter winners).

Additionally, 2010 JV runners coming back with the team (3.5) award are Dorothy Bell, Tori Butts, Malvi Devanathan, Nicky Douglas, Jamie Fink, Allison Halperin, Natasha Merkulova, and Alyssa Williams.

“We have experienced returning runners, strong leadership and a dedicated, hard-working group of girls,” said Solon Coach Marci Ridenbaugh. “Work together all season in order to hit our peak performance at the regional meet.”

Season Preview

Obviously the ultimate goal after narrowly missing is for the Comets to qualify as a team for the state meet. “In order to do that every runner has to improve her personal record,” the coach said.

While Paige and Aamoth bring the senior leadership, juniors Haiss and Hatteberg bring the running accolades as both were named all league on the Comet team that took fourth in the NOC’s Valley Division in ‘10.

Haiss was also a state qualifier as the Comets took fourth in the district in sixth in the regional. Haiss also earned All State honors as an individual for cross country.

Also returning from the JV and varsity from last season are Lindsey Shook, Megan Cartellone, Tiara Harrison, and Erin Sandridge.

In addition, Coach Ridenbaugh and her staff have a slew of incoming S/As ready to run. They are Monica Goodin, Haley Guggenheim, Indeep Janda, Maddy Kvaka, Sydney Lapin, Emma Lenhart, Samantha Manno, Hannah McColl, Paige Myers, Geneva Sandridge, Adrija Chaturvedi, Julia Haiss, Julia Aminov, and Alexis Bradley. The latter two are seniors, Haiss and Chaturvedi sophomores and the rest freshmen.

“We have full potential to qualify as a team to the state meet,” said 2nd year Coach Ridenbaugh, who is aided by Assistant Coach Anna Guseilo, who is also in her 2nd year at Solon.

A change in scheduling has the Comets running in the VASJ- McDonough Invitational at Forest Hill Park.

Wright State Alumnus/Former Clevelander Brian Anderson Part of Summit League Distinguished List

In celebration of The Summit League's 30th Anniversary Season, the league officially announced Tuesday its list of Top 30 Distinguished Contributors from the Division I era.

Wright State, which was part of the league from the fall of 1991 until the spring of 1993 when it was known as the Mid-Continent Conference, had one selection to the list in baseball pitcher Brian Anderson. Anderson competed for the Raiders from 1991-93, with the final two seasons as part of the league.

Arguably one of the greatest Student/Athletes in Wright State history, Anderson was the third overall selection in the 1993 amateur draft by the California (now Anaheim) Angels.  He ranks among the career and single season leaders in wins, ERA, innings pitched, strikeouts and starts at WSU. Anderson was the only student-athlete to be selected as both a First Team All-American and First Team Academic All-American in 1993 after leading the nation with a 1.14 ERA. 

During his Raider career, Anderson posted a 27-8 overall record with a 2.23 career ERA, striking out 293 batters and walked only 41 in 290 innings of work.  The Mid-Continent Conference Pitcher of the Year in 1992 and 1993, he is the only player in WSU history to post two seasons with 10 or more wins on the mound.  Anderson was inducted in the school's Mary and Al Schwarz Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

At the major league level, Anderson had a 13-year playing career (1993-2005) with the Angels, Cleveland Indians, Arizona Diamondbacks and Kansas City Royals.  Part of the 2001 Arizona team that won the World Series, he compiled an 82-83 overall record with a 4.74 ERA and 723 strikeouts in 1547 innings pitched while giving up only 337 walks.

After his playing career, Anderson continues to be involved with major league baseball.  He occasionally filled in as a broadcaster for the Indians on SportsTime Ohio in 2007 and served a temporary color analyst for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008, 2009 and 2010 before becoming the full-time analyst this season.  Anderson also was an assistant to the pitching coach and worked in the Rays front office in 2008 and 2009.

Four individual NCAA champions and three Olympic medalists along with four NBA players and two World Series Champions headline The Summit League's list of top student-athletes, coaches and administrators.

"The 30 individuals recognized on this list represent those who have been instrumental in developing the history of The Summit League over its first 30 seasons at the Division I level," said Summit League commissioner Tom Douple. "From the administrators who helped develop the league since its inception as the Association of Mid-Continent Universities, to the coaches who have built some of our most successful programs, and the student-athletes who have performed at a high level within our league, in professional sports, and on the International stage, each one of these individuals have played a unique role in making our league what it is today. These outstanding contributors, along with several more who are worthy of acclaim, deserve recognition as iconic figures in our history."

The Summit League's Top 30 Distinguished Contributors were determined by voting by a panel of representatives from each current Summit League member institution and each former league member of at least five years along with members of the media who regularly cover the league. Nearly 100 total candidates were originally chosen for consideration based on nominations and individual achievements.

Of the 30 honorees, Anderson is in several select groups.  He is one of 15 that earned All-America honors during their college careers, one of nine that played in their sport's top professional league in the United State, one of four that played nine-plus seasons in that top professional league and one of two that were World Series Championship (Missouri State alum Bill Mueller played with the Boston Red Sox in 2004) and one of two that were first-round draft choices (IUPUI alum George Hill was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs in 2008).

Each honoree will be profiled on The Summit League's Web site throughout the 2011-12 academic year as part of The Summit League's 30th Anniversary Season celebration.