County Stars To Get Kicks At UM: Poulin, Lawrence To Give Terps' Women's Soccer A Boost
By Jamie Amato
Gazette Staff Writer
Aug. 31, 2000
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Valerie Lawrence and Audra Poulin are each going through transition periods with their respective games, yet both players hope to arrive at the same goals this fall when they take the field for the University of Maryland women's soccer team.
After starting 21 of 22 games at midfield for the Terrapins last season, Lawrence is currently making the often difficult switch to defense for her sophomore season due to her incredible speed and ability to break on the ball. Lawrence, a former standout at Good Counsel High who netted 83 goals and added 41 assists in her illustrious prep career, tallied four assists as a freshman last year and said she's looking forward to joining Maryland's formidable defense this season.
"Last season was a big adjustment from high school because I moved from forward to midfield," Lawrence said. "We had an all-freshman defense last year, and we should be even better this year now that we have the experience."
Poulin, The Gazette's 1999 Player of the Year after scoring 89 goals and dishing out 60 assists during her career at Rockville High, joins the Terrapins this season with the hopes of making an immediate impact. She was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America high school All-American as a senior in high school and a member of the Maryland Olympic Development team for four years. But Poulin is in the midst of making the biggest jump of her soccer career as she attempts to adapt to the college game. This summer, she was also a member of the Maryland Pride, one of the top amateur women's teams in the country, for the final few games of the season and said the experience she gained was invaluable.
"Playing with the Pride helped me tremendously," Poulin said. "The pace of the game is much faster, like it will be in college, and it helped me make better decisions and gave me something to build on."
Maryland head coach Shannon Higgins-Cirovski, the 1999 Atlantic Coast Conference Coach of the Year, said she and her coaching staff saw several radiant characteristics in Poulin that made her an obvious choice to recruit for College Park.
"Audra has a very special quality in that she's very composed and she almost never loses the ball," Higgins-Cirovski said. "She passes the ball on a dime and has a great overall feel for the game."
In addition to the increased speed of the game at the college level, Poulin also said she has been impressed with the skill level of her new teammates and that she's ready to make a difference at the college level after shining for four years in high school.
"Everyone on the team is solid at this level and they don't make mistakes because they've been there before," she said. "It's kind of hard to start over being the youngest again but I want to make an impact and make a name for myself."
Both former county stars are eager to start the season and help Maryland improve on its 11-10-1 record from a year ago. In addition, both players said they expect the Terrapins to make the NCAA tournament for the sixth consecutive year and finish at or near the top of the ACC standings.
"We want come in higher in the conference than we did last year," Lawrence said. "It
took us half the season to get going last year, but we've looked pretty good so far and
hopefully we'll come in stronger mentally this year."