TEAM USA SOLID IN LEADERSHIP BUT THERE'S A LONG ROAD AHEAD

By Al Mattei

Founder, TopOfTheCircle.com

And now, the fun begins.

After two weeks of "A"-Camp selections, the 2000 U.S. Women's National Team settles in for what it hopes will be eight months of hard work leading up to the Olympic Games in Sydney.

That is the hope; but it all could come crashing down as soon as April 1 if the United States cannot earn one of the five qualifying slots at the Olympic Qualifier in Milton Keynes, England.

The United States is in the Pool of Death -- 1998 World Cup bronze medalists Germany, 1992 Olympic champion Spain, a rapidly improving India squad, and Ireland are in the group. Should the Americans not place in the top two slots in its pool, the only chance to make the Olympics is to play off for the fifth and final spot available at Milton Keynes.

But if Team USA is able to maximize its strengths, it should have a better than even chance of taking one of the top two slots in its group, guaranteeing at least a fourth-place finish in the tournament.

One definite strength is experience: four members of the team have more than 100 caps each: Four members of the team have more than 100 caps: captain Tracey Fuchs (178), vice-captain Kelli James (135), Antoinette Lucas (134), and Kris Fillat (109). Close behind is Jill Reeve (82).

Too, eight of the players -- Fuchs, Reeve, James, Lucas, Fillat, Katie Kauffman, Andrea Weiland, and Cindy Werley -- made the 1996 Olympic Team.

At the same time, however, much of the team is comprised of present college players. Three are college seniors: Tracey Larson (Penn State), Rachel Barger (Delaware), and Coleen Krieger (James Madison).

Five players have remaining college eligibility: Jessica Coleman (Virginia), Carla Tagliente (Maryland), Jana Toepel (North Carolina), Kristin McCann (North Carolina), and Amy Herz (Connecticut). It will be interesting to see which of these miss the 1999 NCAA season, and which come back to their college seasons immediately after the Olympics, if any so choose.

There is a definite generation gap in the 26-player pool: the oldest player is Fuchs (b. 3 Nov 1966) and the youngest is Coleman (b. 12 March 1980).

TEAM USA
Name High School College
Kate Barber Unionville (Pa.) North Carolina
Rachel Barger Alexandria Thomas Jefferson (Va.) Delaware
Lisa Cellucci Radnor Archbishop Carroll (Pa.) Iowa
Jessica Coleman West Long Branch Shore Regional (N.J.) Virginia
Christine DeBow Unionville (Pa.) Maryland
Kris Fillat San Diego Serra (Calif.) Iowa
Tracey Fuchs Centereach (N.Y.) Connecticut
Amy Herz Willow Grove Upper Moreland (Pa.) Connecticut
Kelli James Pennsauken Bishop Eustace (N.J.) Old Dominion
Tara Jelley Greenfield (Mass.) Massachusetts
Katie Kauffman West Lawn Wilson (Pa.) Maryland
Coleen Krieger Fairview Village Methacton (Pa.) James Madison
Tracey Larson Levittown Pennsbury (Pa.) Penn State
Antoinette Lucas Richmond Collegiate (Va.) Northwestern
Kristin McCann Emmaus (Pa.) North Carolina
Nancy Pelligreen St. Louis Visitation (Mo.) North Carolina
Eleanor Stone Race Cheshire (Conn.) Penn State
Jill Reeve Hoosick Falls Central (N.J.) Old Dominion
Mimi Smith Virginia Beach Ocean Lakes (Va.) Old Dominion
Peggy Storrar Mahopac (N.Y.) North Carolina
Carla Tagliente Marathon (N.Y.) Maryland
Jana Toepel Boyertown (Pa.) North Carolina
Michelle Vizzuso North Caldwell West Essex (N.J.) University of Virginia
Cindy Werley Emmaus (Pa.) North Carolina
Andrea Weiland The Westtown (Pa.) School Iowa
Jana Withrow Greenville A.I. DuPont (Del.) North Carolina

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