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TOURNAMENT WATCH: Top-notch frontlines
by Paul Kennedy, December 2nd, 2008 8AM



No Women's College Cup has ever featured the depth of talent in the frontlines of the four participants. They include an Olympic gold-medalist (UCLA's Lauren Cheney) and a former Hermann Trophy winner (Notre Dame's Kerri Hanks). For a look at the North Carolina, Notre Dame, Stanford and UCLA frontlines ...

Casey Nogueira, JR. (23-8-54).
Courtney Jones, FR. (13-3-29).
Jess McDonald, JR. (5-10-20).
After losing two-time Olympic gold-medalist Heather O'Reilly, UNC had scoring in 2007 when it went out in the third round. That's been solved this year as Nogueira, daughter of indoor goalie great Victor Nogueira, has been joined by Jones, of former NFL star Brent Jones, and McDonald, who was a JC standout in soccer and basketball at Phoenix College.

Season average:
3.31 goals a game
NCAA Tournament average: 3.50 goals a game

Kerri Hanks, SR. (19-15-53)
Melissa Henderson, FR. (17-1-35)
Michele Weissenhofer, JR. (4-7-15)

For two seasons, the Hanks-Brittany Bock-Weissenhofer dominated. But the arrival of Henderson, the top striker to come out of Dallas since Hanks arrived in South Bend in 2004, meant that Weissenhofer (who specializes in the flip throw-in) often had to sit. But a knee injury to Bock has put Weissenhofer back in the starting lineup for the NCAA Tournament. The key player, though, is Hanks. No player has scored as many goals and assists in her career as Hanks -- 83 goals and 73 assists to date.

Season average: 3.24 goals a game
NCAA Tournament average: 2.25 goals a game

Christen Press, SOPH. (16-11-43)
Kelly O'Hara, JR. (13-12-48)
Lindsay Taylor, FR. (16-3-35)

Like North Carolina's Nogueira, O'Hara participated in qualifying for the 2008 Under-20 Women's World Cup but chose to concentrate on her college ball rather than play in the U-20 finals. (They had both played at the 2006 U-20 finals.) O'Hara has been involved in 25 goals this season, matching her total for her first two seasons combined. Press, who was disappointed she wasn't picked for the U.S. U-20 team, has doubled her goal output from a year ago. Add to that the arrival of speedster Taylor and the Cardinal attack has been transformed.

Season average: 2.96 goals a game
NCAA Tournament average: 2.25 goals a game

Lauren Cheney, JR. (11-9-31)
Kristina Larsen, JR. (13-4-30)

The Bruins have increased their offensive output by 0.95 goals a game in the NCAA Tournament from their regular-season average of 2.30 goals a game. After 19 and 23 goals in her first two seasons, Cheney's production is down considerably since returning from the Olympics. Larsen, also a junior, has picked up the slack with both goals in the regular-season win over USC and the winning goal against the defending champion in the third round of the NCAA Tournament. Sydney Leroux, a freshman, started 18 games before heading to Chile for the Under-20 Women's World Cup.

Season average: 2.50 goals a game
NCAA Tournament average: 3.25 goals a game

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