Saturday, September 18, 2004

Prolific striker blending in at NKU


No. Ky. college sports notebook

By Neil Schmidt
Enquirer contributor

When a woman joins a soccer team after scoring 58 goals in two seasons at her prior college, her reputation precedes her.

That is, unless nobody heard her goal total.

"I don't think they know," Kristin Votapek said of her new Northern Kentucky University teammates.

You mean, 58 goals never got mentioned?

"I never brought it up, either," coach Bob Sheehan said.

This says a lot about Votapek, the unassuming junior forward from Amelia High. And also about NKU, which held the No. 1 ranking in Division II at some point during each of the past four seasons.

No player is bigger than this program, and everyone operates out of a team concept. Not that Votapek had any trouble fitting in.

"She brought such enthusiasm," Sheehan said. "She has a Christian background, and she's what a role model should be."

So despite leading Mount Vernon (Ohio) Nazarene to the National Christian College Athletic Association title last fall and setting that school's records for career goals (58) and points (134), Votapek was as humble as a walk-on when joining the Norse.

She brought with her a "Secret Santa" concept her former team employed, in which each player has a designated teammate to whom they give a small gift before each game.

"The team really responded to her," Sheehan said.

On the field, the whole team has an adjustment to make. The Norse, who lost five starters from last season, stood 3-2 entering a night game Friday against Wisconsin-Parkside, and Votapek had totaled two goals.

"I hate not scoring," Votapek said. "I feel impatience, anticipation and frustration."

She was still tied for the team lead in goals entering Friday, with a team-high 23 shots.

Yet what the speedy Votapek is discovering is that at 5 foot 3 and 113 pounds, NCAA Division II is a much tougher brand of soccer than the NAIA or NCCAA, in which MVN jointly participates.

"It's a lot more physical," she said. "I get bounced around. I didn't think I'd bruise so easily."

Votapek, who scored 32 goals last season, said she's learning to stand her ground. Sheehan said Votapek excels in practice and recently told her, "One day it's just going to click and you're going to pretty much run wild."

Votapek transferred to be closer to home. Her mother had traveled to every MVN game, a three-hour drive each way.

"It's great being home," Votapek said. "The competition is better at this level, but that's a challenge I want."

NKU MEN'S SOCCER: The Norse moved up from No. 25 to 18 in the newest Division II rankings after last week cracking the poll for the first time since 1996.

Entering a night game Friday against Wisconsin-Parkside, NKU (4-0-1) had allowed just one goal all season.

NKU VOLLEYBALL: Freshman middle hitter Liz Holmes (Mercy) has been named Great Lakes Valley Conference player of the week. She totaled 69 kills and hit .466 during NKU's four-game sweep of the Ashland (Ohio) Volleyball Classic.

Holmes leads the Norse (7-4) in hitting percentage (.370) and blocks (31), ranking second in kills (160) and aces (17).

TMC FOOTBALL: The Saints (1-1) travel to Wittenberg tonight to try to claim their first victory over the Tigers. Thomas More has lost this matchup each of the past three years by an average score of 43-11.

Wittenberg (0-1), the winningest program in Division III, was stunned 49-16 by Capital in its opener.

TMC WOMEN'S SOCCER: Five Saints were named to the Maryville (Tenn.) Invitational all-tournament team after TMC outscored opponents 8-1 to win the tourney. Junior defender Elaine Brady (Oak Hills) was named MVP; the others honored were junior midfielders Cathy Santillo (Harrison) and Becky Rutherford (Mercy), sophomore defender Kelly Sebastian (Oak Hills) and freshman midfielder Sarah Goessling (Ryle).

The Saints are 4-0-1 after finishing 15-2-2 last season.

TMC WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Danielle Zimmerman has been named an assistant coach. She played at Scott High and Murray State and most recently served as an assistant at Notre Dame Academy.

The week ahead

NKU volleyball: vs. Bellarmine, 2 p.m. today; vs. SIUE, 7 p.m. Friday.

NKU women's soccer: vs. St. Joseph's (Ind.), 2:30 p.m. Sunday; at Quincy, 8:30 p.m. Friday.

NKU men's soccer: vs. St. Joseph's (Ind.), noon Sunday; vs. Mercyhurst, 4 p.m. Tuesday; at Quincy, 6 p.m. Friday.

NKU men's golf: at Bellarmine Invitational, Sunday.

TMC football: at Wittenberg, 7 p.m. today.

TMC women's soccer: vs. Case Western Reserve, noon today; at Franklin (Ind.), noon Sunday; vs. Capital, 5 p.m. Friday.

TMC men's soccer: vs. Manchester, 2 p.m. today; at Franklin (Ind.), 2 p.m. Sunday; vs. Capital, 7 p.m. Friday.

TMC volleyball: vs. Capital*, 9:30 a.m. today; vs. Kalamazoo*, 2 p.m. today; at Hanover, 7 p.m. Wednesday.

(* Greencastle, Ind.)

---

This weekly notebook spotlights NKU and Thomas More sports.

E-mail neilcschmidt@yahoo.com.




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