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August 4,
2003

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Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

SPORTS PAGE

By Dennis O'Donnell, Sports Information Director

Erika Smith
Erika Smith '04, who was voted ECAC Upstate New York Women's Basketball Player of the Year, fights for the ball in the March 15 sectional championship game against Messiah College.

When the women's basketball team hits the court for its season opener on November 21 vs. Ithaca College at 6 p.m., the Yellowjackets will make their first bid as contenders for the NCAA Division III National Championship. And with twelve veterans returning from the 2002-03 season--when the team finished 24-6, competed at the NCAA Division III Final Four for the first time in school history, and placed fourth in the final poll by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association--the Yellowjackets may be well on their way to a repeat performance.

Head coach Jim Scheible's hopes are bolstered by a strong recruiting class, perhaps the strongest in school history. Rochester's lineup will include Erika Smith '04, a First Team Kodak/WBCA All-America guard. Smith was named First Team All-UAA and the ECAC Upstate New York Player of the Year. Teammates Kelly Wescott '05 and Megan Fish '05 were named Second Team All-UAA. Wescott was named the Most Valuable Player of the East/Atlantic Sectional playoffs and was picked to the Final Four All-Tournament Team after scoring 26 points and pulling down 16 rebounds (both career highs) against a First Team All-American in the national third-place game.

Excitement was fueled last year by Rochester's victory in the JPMorgan Chase Scholarship Tournament when the Yellowjackets defeated Roberts Wesleyan on the road to win their first Chase title.

Five weeks later, they defeated top-ranked (and previously unbeaten) Washington University, 82-73, in the Palestra to serve notice that, yes, they come to play every night.

At season's end, they were ranked nationally in scoring defense (55.4 ppg allowed), rebound margin (7.4 more rebounds a game than the opponent), and that all-important stat: winning percentage, which by season's end was 80 percent.

Other teams to watch

The football team returns 10 starters on defense and 17 overall. The offensive veterans include quarterback Pat Manuel '06, the UCAA Rookie of the Year last season, and wide receiver Brian Ferris '04, who set a single-season mark for receiving yards and caught 11 touchdowns. The defense will be led by Kassim Howell '04 in the secondary and Sam Snowden '04 on the line. Both players were named All-UAA and All-UCAA last year.

Men's and women's soccer both won the ECAC Northeast Regional titles at home last season and return with veteran teams. Alison Collins '04 had 18 goals and five assists last year to earn All-American honors. For the men, three players were named All-Region. Forward Nate Micklos '06 was a First Team choice.

Women's volleyball has a new coach in Linda Downey, a three-time winner of the NCAA East Region Coach of the Year award. Eight letterwinners are back for a team that finished fifth in the UAA championships and sixth at the State Championships.

Field hockey finished 12-10 and fourth at the state championships last year. The Yellowjackets are led by two regional All-Americans: Katie Poeth '04 up front and Erin Charnow '05 in the back.

The men's and women's cross-country teams were strong at the regional and state levels in 2002 and have most of their veterans back.

Tune in

WYSL Radio 1040 AM will broadcast all 14 UAA men's and women's basketball games as well as all 10 University football games. The broadcast can be heard over the station's Web site. A link will be placed on the Rochester football and basketball pages at www.rochester.edu/living/athletics.



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