SFA Soccer is Headed to the Big Dance
Nov. 11, 2003
NACOGDOCHES - The Stephen F. Austin Ladyjack soccer team (15-4-2) will take on 12th-seeded Duke in the first round of the NCAA Soccer Championships Friday in College Station, Texas. The game against the Blue Devils is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., from the Aggie Soccer Complex. The Ladyjacks earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships after knocking off Southland Conference regular-season champ Southeastern Louisiana, 1-0, in the championship game of the SLC tournament. If the Ladyjacks get by Duke, they will face the winner of the Texas A&M/Southern Methodist game, which will be played Friday at 7:30 p.m. The two first-round winners will face each other Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
Historic Journey: The Ladyjacks are making their first appearance in the NCAA Soccer Championships. The Ladyjacks have won two Southland Conference regular-season titles (1997 and 1998) but never earned the automatic bid to the NCAA Championships prior to the 2003 season.
SFA vs. the Field: The Ladyjacks are a combined 0-1 against the three other teams in their bracket. SFA has never faced Duke or Southern Methodist in soccer. The only meeting between SFA and Texas A&M came during the 1995 season.
Record-Setting Season: The 2003 season was a record-setting year for SFA. The Ladyjacks finished the regular-season with a 15-4-2 (.762) overall mark, which is an SFA record. The Ladyjacks also set a single-season school record with their nine shutout victories in 2003.
The Grand Cannon: Sophomore Kendra Cannon is the school's all-time leader in points (64) and goals (29). She is also third all-time in school history with eight assists. In fact, Cannon became the school's all-time leader in points and goals during her rookie season scoring 32 points and 14 goals. She broke both marks this season scoring 34 points and netting 15 goals.
The Great Wall of Nacogdoches: Second-team All-Southland Conference selection Natascia Michalezki avoided a sophomore jinx this season and has put together another outstanding year. Michalezki recorded seven shutouts and was among the league leaders in saves, saves per game and goals against average. She currently has the top-two singles-season saves marks in school history and is second all-time at SFA with 291 saves and 12.5 shutouts. Earlier this season, she set a career-high and single-game record with 24 saves in a victory over Texas-El Paso.
The Defense Doesn't Rest: The Ladyjacks had a suffocating defense in 2003. SFA recorded a school-record nine shutout victories in 2003 and held four other opponents to only one goal. The Ladyjacks have outscored their opponents, 30-10, in their last 12 games, including four straight shutouts.
Second-Half Warriors: The Ladyjacks get stronger as the game goes on. Ever since recording a 5-2 victory over Tennessee-Martin the Ladyjacks have dominated the second half, outscoring its opponents, 33-11, in the second stanza.
A Look Back in Time: If SFA and Texas A&M should meet in the second round of the tournament, the Ladyjacks will have a small connection to Texas A&M. SFA head coach Nicole Nelson was a member of the inaugural women's soccer team at Texas A&M, before finishing her career at Oklahoma City University.
All-Southland Conference: The Ladyjacks were rewarded by the league coaches for their record-setting season. SFA head coach Nicole Nelson was named Southland Conference Coach of the Year. Sophomore Kim Gray earned first-team All-SLC honors, while classmates Kendra Cannon and Natascia Michalezki and freshman Alicia Reese were named to the all-conference second team. Sarah Johnson, Christie Mestayer, Sophia Pantazis, Sara Hernandez, Jaime Ronca and Andrea Ramirez all earned All-SLC honorable mention honors. The Ladyjacks were also honored throughout the season receiving four SLC Goalkeeper of the Week Awards, four SLC Defensive Player of the Week Awards and one SLC Offensive Player of the Week Award.