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U-19 WNT Begins CONCACAF Qualifying Friday vs. Domincan Republic

U.S. Under-19 WNT
CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament
May 27, 2004 – Ottawa, Canada

The U.S. Under-19 WNT is just a day away from kicking off the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament in Ottawa, Canada. The U.S. will begin Group B play against the Dominican Republic on Friday, May 28 at Frank Clair Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET and while there is no American television, fans can follow all the U-19 qualifying matches live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. After their opening match, the U.S. will pick up and move to Montreal on Saturday, where it will play its other two group matches at McGill University Molson Stadium. The U.S. will face Trinidad & Tobago on May 30 at 6 p.m. ET and finish group play against Costa Rica on June 1 at 7 p.m. ET. The semifinals will be played in Montreal on June 4, while the final will be held in Ottawa on June 6.
Date Opponent  Venue    Kickoff
May 28 Dominican Rep.  Frank Clair Stadium  7 p.m. ET
May 30 Trinidad & Tobago McGill Univ. Molson Stadium 6 p.m. ET
June 1 Costa Rica  McGill Univ. Molson Stadium 7 p.m. ET
June 4 Semifinals*  McGill Univ. Molson Stadium 5:30/8 p.m. ET
June 6 Third Place/Final* Frank Clair Stadium  10 a.m./1 p.m. ET
* if necessary

Suffering a fracture in her right big toe a couple weeks before leaving for the qualifying tournament, midfielder Jennifer Redmond came into camp in Ottawa with a special soft boot strapped to foot and hopes of a quick recovery. Unfortunately, despite her best efforts to keep off her feet and the attention given by the team’s medical staff, Redmond was deemed unable to play for the tournament and alternate Chioma Igwe will fill her roster spot. Knowing of Redmond’s injury in advance, head coach Mark Krikorian brought in Igwe for the entire camp in case the New Jersey midfielder’s big toe didn’t heal in time for the tournament. Igwe has been training with the team since its arrival in Ottawa and plays as either an offensive or defensive center midfielder. After a final assessment of Redmond’s toe by the medical staff that deemed her injury as still too early in the healing process to allow her to play, the player switch was made late yesterday afternoon as the U.S. was required to submit their final tournament roster to CONCACAF.
U.S. U-19 WNT Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kelsey Davis (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Ashlyn Harris (Satellite Beach, Fla.); DEFENDERS (6): Rachel Buehler (Stanford), Nikki Krzysik (Clifton, N.J.), Stephanie Logterman (Austin, Texas), Stephanie Lopez (Portland), Kia McNeill (Avon, Conn.), Becky Sauerbrunn (Virginia); MIDFIELDERS (5): Yael Averbuch (Upper Montclair, N.J.), Chioma Igwe (Belmont, Calif.), Stephanie Kron (UCLA), Stacy Lindstrom (UCLA), Alexa Orand (Orange, Calif.); FORWARDS (5): Bristyn Davis (UCLA), Sheree Gray (Toms River, N.J.), Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas), Megan Rapinoe (Redding, Calif.), Angie Woznuk (Portland).
U.S. Under-19 WNT head coach Mark Krikorian took over the team after Tracy Leone was named an assistant coach with the full WNT in February and has been molding his squad ever since. Taking over the reigning world champions can be a difficult transition, but Krikorian has done a remarkable job of melding the players with the new staff and making a comfortable, determined and fun atmosphere that will hopefully transcend onto the field during the team’s first match in the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament against the Dominican Republic on Friday. Krikorian sat down with and talked about his thoughts on the tournament, what the team needs to do to be successful and how the recent roster change will affect his squad. 

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The Dominican Republic will make history on Friday against the U.S., as it will be their first ever appearance in a CONCACAF Final Round Qualification in their football history. The small Caribbean nation is not usually a force in CONCACAF (MNT FIFA ranking: 171, WNT FIFA ranking: 99), but its appearance at the U-19 WNT Final Qualifying tournament is a step in the right direction as it attempts to improve its place in the world of international soccer. The Dominicans advanced to the final round by eliminating the U.S. Virgin Islands (5-2 aggregate) and Bahamas (2-1 aggregate) in two home-and-away series, earning one of the three Caribbean Football Union (CFU) berths.
Dominican Republic U-19 WNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Heydi Salazar, Margarita Guerrero; DEFENDERS (7): Ana Diaz, Leonela Guzman, Maria Guzman, Niurka Hernandez, Dahian Lorenzo, Jiselly Rodriguez, Marlyn Rosado; MIDFIELDERS (6): Denny Dominguez, Yadirsa Fernandez, Ana Frias, Esmerlyn Garcia, Oliva Santana, Yolanda Vaerio; FORWARDS (3): Rainelsa Peralta, Johana Santelis, Davilayda Uribe.
Head Coach: Santiago Morel

Caribbean Zone Preliminary Qualification
Dominican Republic 3, U.S. Virgin Islands 2
Feb. 29, 2004
St. Croix Educational Complex, Castleburk, U.S. Virgin Islands
Dominican Goals: Luz Paulino (13th), Yadirsa Fernandez (19th), Claudia Henriquez (75th)

Dominican Republic 2, U.S. Virgin Islands 0
March 7, 2004
Estadio Olimpico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Dominican Goals: Olivia Santana (34th), Claudia Henriquez (50th)

Dominican Republic 1, Bahamas 1
March 26, 2004
Estadio Olympico Juan Pablo Duarte; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Dominican Goals: Ana Brenda Frias (82nd)

Dominican Republic 1, Bahamas 0
March 28, 2004
Estadio Olympico Juan Pablo Duarte; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Dominican Goals: Ana Brenda Frias (61st)

As the tournament nears, the U.S. moved into the upscale dormitories on the campus of Carleton University, where the Dominican Republic and some of the other eight tournament teams will be staying during qualifying. The players packed their bags and loaded the bus for the quick five-minute trip from the local hotel they stayed in during their pre-tournament training, arriving at the Leeds House dorm this morning. After moving all the equipment and personal bags into their respective rooms, the players explored their dorm floor, mentioning how much they like the dorms as they are a lot bigger compared to their typical small room at American colleges. Each dorm room includes a small kitchen area with a stove and a refrigerator, with four separate bedrooms and two bathrooms. The college players stated how the roomy dorms were an improvement from where they stayed during their freshman year, while for the high school players it will most likely create a letdown when they move in this fall. The campus is overflowing with a number of other students and young kids living in the dormitories on campus, and the players have enjoyed their first 24 hours living the “college life” as they get ready for the Dominican Republic.

On Friday, football will be played at the turf field at Frank Clair Stadium, the site for the USA’s opening match on Friday, but not the normal football it is used to hosting. The 30,927 seat stadium is the home of the Canadian Football League’s Ottawa Renegades, which will kickoff their pre-season in a weeks time on June 3, just three days before the CONCACAF Qualifying final will be held at the stadium. The Renegades, who finished third out of four teams in the Eastern Division last year, will take on the reigning league champion Montreal Alouettes.

The U.S. will hold their final practice before facing the Dominican Republic this afternoon at Frank Clair Stadium. After a little over a day off without touching a soccer ball, the U-19s were back on the field Wednesday evening for an upbeat one-hour practice. The first half-hour consisted of assistant coach Erica Walsh working with the backline on keeping their shape and communication, while Krikorian worked on ball movement from the midfield into the attack and goalkeeper coach Warren Lipka worked with the Ashlyn Harris and Kelsey Davis.  For the final 20 minutes, the players broke into two teams and played a full-field scrimmage.

After nothing but sunshine for the first few days in Ottawa, the skies darkened and supplied the city with a dreary downpour and some cooler temperatures for the past three days, forcing the U.S. to pull out its rain gear. It rained hard on Monday and Tuesday, but let up a bit on Wednesday, only showering during the first 10 minutes of practice. The local forecast is predicting clear skies for the next few days though, with game day having being partly cloudy with high of about 62 degrees.

With the addition of Chioma Igwe to the final 18 for the CONCACAF Qualifying tournament, the U.S. roster is dominated by players from the state of California, with half coming from the Golden State. There are nine California-based players, including Igwe, Rachel Buehler, Bristyn Davis, Kelsey Davis, Stacy Lindstrom, Stephanie Lopez, Alexa Orand, Megan Rapinoe and Angie Woznuk. Bristyn Davis is the most recent Californian of the bunch, as her family just moved from Locust Valley, N.Y. to Manhatten Beach last August. Another player, Stephanie Kron, is from Paradise Valley, Ariz., but has California ties as she currently attends UCLA.

After playing a full 90-minute scrimmage (broken into three 30 minutes intervals) in the rain on Sunday night, the players had some time to rest and on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday, the players woke up and ventured over to the local YMCA to utilize their stationary bikes and step-climbers for a light aerobic workout. After the workout, the players stayed out of the drizzling rain later that afternoon by going to play miniature golf at an indoor course and then heading to a movie theatre after dinner. The miniature golf course wasn’t your average collection of windmills and water hazards as the place was lit entirely by blacklights and the each fairway was littered with psychedelic-like orange, green, yellow and red colors splattered on the surrounding walls and objects surrounding the course. Broken into teams of four, the girls’ competitive juices were soon flowing as each team looked to come out on top. But, in the end the Dirty Jerz team, consisting of the four New Jersey natives (Yael Averbuch, Sheree Gray, Nikki Krzysic and Jennifer Redmond) took home the green, or neon green, jacket. Later that night, the players ventured over to a local cineplex and broke into three groups, seeing either “Shrek 2”, “Mean Girls” or “Troy,” with each group walking out of the theatre pleased with their choice. On Tuesday, the players had the day off and were given the opportunity to do some sightseeing or those that needed to do some homework stayed back at the hotel. The players went on an amphibious bus that whisked them through the capital city by way of the Ottawa River. A guide explained some of the city’s history and pointed out the most prominent Parliament Buildings, which seat the government of Canada. Despite the guide’s knowledge of the city, he was stumped by one of the many inquisitive questions tossed his way by the team. Even though it’s the very symbol on the country’s flag, the guide couldn’t provide an answer to: “What’s the deal behind the Maple Leaf as a symbol of Canada?” After the tour of Ottawa and a bit of shopping, the players came back to the hotel and washed up before heading out to dinner at a Mexican restaurant located right on the water. Trainer Juliet Barnes, celebrating her 26th birthday, and Krzysic, who’s birthday was a couple days earlier, were treated to a head-turning, employee-clapping birthday song as gigantic sombreros were slapped onto their heads before they could even refuse. After the slight humiliation, both were given desserts on the house, which they shared with those seated nearby.

Still thinking about her upcoming driving test and still a little uneasy about parallel parking, defender Nikki Krzysik got a little help during dinner on Tuesday night from teammate Stephanie Kron. Utilizing two glasses to represent parked cars and a small dessert menu as the car Nikki would be driving, Kron explained how to back into the tight space. While Krzysik listened and watched attentively as Kron did a good job of slowly backing the dessert menu in-between the cups, it wasn’t exactly Drivers Ed and nowhere near the real thing, but it’s a beginning. A few more tabletop lessons and Krzysik might have it down before she gets back to the states.  

 -- Forward Kia McNeill entertaining the players and staff before a team meeting by doing her over exaggerated version of Kumbaya, while standing at the front of the room. The ferocity in which McNeill released the words actually made a number of the players jump out of their chair.