Aug. 3, 2000
Aug. 3, 2000 -
The Missouri Tigers made their dream a reality last season by reaching the NCAA Tournament. Despite losing to Marquette in four overtimes, the team recorded its best finish in the program's four-year history at 14-8-1. Reaching the tournament was one of the "crowning achievements" in head coach Bryan Blitz's master plan which he had implemented over the last four years.
The new challenge facing the 2000 Tigers is to reach the College Cup, which will be held in San Jose, Calif. on December 1-3. This year's squad definitely has the offensive firepower to get there. Despite losing eight seniors from last year's squad, the 2000 Tigers return players who scored 39 of 1999's 61 total goals and posted 111 of the team's 171 total points.
As experienced as the team is offensively, it is as inexperienced defensively. Three defenders were lost to graduation and the top two goalkeepers, Jackie Adamec and Liz LaTour, also left by way of the cap and gown.
Even though the Tigers lost their first senior class in 1999 to graduation, the 2000 edition of the Tigers is hoping for a repeat performance with a new set of seniors.
Offensive leader and all-American Nikki Thole is a member of that senior class. Thole entered the program in 1997 virtually unrecruited and has been named to the all-Big 12 conference first team twice. She has also managed to set several school records. She is MU's all-time leading scorer (122 points) , is the career leader in goals (51), and is on pace to become Missouri's all-time assist leader (21).
Junior Sarah Sallee is also expected to be a valuable piece in the Tigers' offensive puzzle in 2000. Before suffering a season-ending leg injury in a 4-3 win over Iowa State, Sallee had six goals and 17 points in only 14 games. Sallee is a fierce, attacking forward and will play a key role in the Tiger's advancement into the post-season.
With two of the top goal scorers in the conference on the team, someone is definitely putting up some big assist numbers. That someone will be and has been senior Amy Timmermann. A left foot specialist with a knack for putting a cross in the right spot, Timmermann tied for the lead in `99 with 10 assists. She hopes to make more of an offensive impact for the Tigers this season while continuing to play a solid midfield position.
Defensively, the Tigers have four solid defenders returning to the lineup in 2000. Anchoring the Tiger defensive squad is senior Becky Paulsen.
Paulsen has proved to be a multi-faceted player, playing both forward and defender. At 6'0", she holds a definite height advantage over most forwards and is able to head out would-be scoring attacks effectively.
Junior Dyana Russell will also solidify the Mizzou defensive attack and key the physical style of play acustomed to MU. Russell proved to be a mainstay in the lineup playing every minute of Missouri's last 17 matches in 1999.
Other returning defenders on the Tiger squad include junior captain Mandy Waters and sophomore Tamisha Ellis.
The Tigers begin their season with a five-game home stand against Creighton, Purdue, and then hosting the Ellis Copy Tiger Invitational. The road to San Jose then takes MU to the Michigan Invitational in Ann Arbor, Mich. and then to the Wake Forest Classic in Winston-Salem, N. C.. The first two games of the Big 12 Conference season will keep the Tigers on the road before returning home to host the bulk of their conference matches.
The Tigers look to take their dreams of a national title in 2000 to the next level with explosive play and a high level of intensity.