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  The Digital Collegian - Published independently by students at Penn State
[ Wednesday, Sept. 1, 1999 ]

Stickwomen have tough net choice

Collegian Staff Writer

In a strange variation to the old children's game musical chairs, the Lady Lions left standing when the music stops could be the starting goalkeeper for the Penn State field hockey team.

Three individuals have been competing for that coveted position, and no one seems to have any idea who will take the field this weekend when the Lions open their season at home against Ohio and North Carolina.

"I haven't decided yet," Penn State field hockey coach Char Morett said. "We won't make a decision until (tomorrow)."

Whoever is named starting goalie will try to fill the shoes of now-graduated goalie Jamie Smith.

Collegian File Photo
PHOTO: Collegian File Photo
Penn State goalkeeper Jamie Smith makes a save in 1998. Three inexperiened keepers will attempt to fill her shoes now that Smith has graduated.

Last season, Smith stopped 78 percent of all shots, sporting a 1.30 goals-against-average in 23 games.

If there is one central theme in this year's goalie race, it's inexperience. The field boasts freshman Annie Zinkavich, redshirt freshman Heidi Leuchte and senior Julie Sposito.

Sposito saw limited action the last two seasons in a backup role to Smith. Last year, she secured a 1.32 goals-against average. She enters the race after returning from a recent groin injury.

"I'm pretty much in top shape," Sposito said. "100 percent. I'm playing pretty well. I feel confident enough."

Zinkavich has received praise from Sports Illustrated for Women, which called her addition a plus. Coming from Kingston, she had a .922 save percentage in high school and was twice selected to the all-state team.

"It's a really even race," Zinkavich said. "Everyone's definitely out for the position. I'm up for the challenge."

Leuchte, a graduate of Pinkerton Academy and Hampstad, N.H., native, rounds out the field for the Lions.

But while the question on the minds of all three is who will be in goal this weekend, the answer might be all three of them. Morett has suggested alternating the position early to get a better view of how each individual performs.

"We'd like to see how they perform in a game," Morett said.

All three players are putting their faith in Morett, as they seem intrigued by the possibility of rotating goalies.

"Whatever's best for the team," Leuchte said. "We're all inexperienced, never really seen any Div. I action. It's a smart move on her part."

Said Zinkavich: "That's probably the best idea."

Regardless on the amount of depth at the position, Morett expects the lack of experience to have its share of problems.

"I think my greatest amount of patience is going to show in the goalie position," Morett said during Fall Sports Media Day, "because we have total inexperience there."

But no matter who emerges as the victor in this early season goalie controversy, the competition itself is not without its merits.

"It's a tough race," Sposito said. "But we're feeding off of each other, which is making all of us well."

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Copyright © 2000 Collegian Inc.
Updated 1999-8-31  11:37:20 PM  -4
Requested 2000-8-17  5:55:46 AM  -4

URL: http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/1999/09/09-01-99tdc/09-01-99dsports-6.asp