Molinaro getting her kicks playing for Connecticut Howard County notebook

December 02, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Lauren Molinaro is one happy person these days.

A May graduate of Centennial, Molinaro's soccer team at the University of Connecticut has reached the Final Four. Molinaro has played an important part in the team's success, starting 24 of 25 games at center midfield -- she was injured for one game -- and scoring six goals and adding 12 assists.

"To be going to the Final Four is just unbelievable, it's awesome," said Molinaro yesterday from her dorm at Connecticut. "At first it didn't hit me -- how lucky I was -- because I was just caught up in the moment. But this is an awesome accomplishment by our team."

Connecticut (22-3) plays Notre Dame (23-0-1) on Friday in the second game of a semifinal doubleheader at UNC-Greensboro. Top-ranked North Carolina (25-0-1) faces Santa Clara (20-2-1) at 1 p.m. in the opener. Connecticut's game is scheduled to be televised Friday at midnight on HTS.

The Huskies, who topped William and Mary, 4-0, on Sunday in a quarterfinal game, have lost twice to Notre Dame this season. The Irish, seeded second in the NCAA tournament behind North Carolina, won 1-0 on Oct. 26 at Notre Dame, then beat Connecticut, 6-1, in the Big East tournament final Nov. 9.

"We have a big problem confronting them. We seem to get shy and don't play our game," said Molinaro. "I know we can hang with them, but right now it's all in our heads. Individually we have to set it aside and play together as a team."

Molinaro has experienced little of the back pain that caused her to miss all but one game of her senior season at Centennial. "It really hasn't been a factor in my play," she said.

She currently is nursing a pulled quad muscle in her right leg. Will she be at her best on Friday?

"Even if I'm not, you can always pretend you are," Molinaro said. "I'll be ready."

Molinaro, who was named Big East defensive player of the week in the second week of October and also was selected to the conference All-Rookie team, said she is very happy in Storrs. "I just love it up here. It's just what I wanted."

And although she is doing well in her classes, Molinaro admits all the traveling has made school work more challenging. "I do have some work to catch up on," she said.

Liz Bielefeld, a 1994 Hammond grad, was named recently to the All-Southern Conference first team. Bielefeld has started every game in her Furman career and is the school's all-time leading scorer. She led the team this season with nine goals and seven assists.

Davidson College sophomore Ginny Dye, a 1996 Oakland Mills grad, was a second-team All-Southern Conference selection and was named to the conference tournament team.

Dougherty picks Wisconsin

Centennial senior Katie Dougherty, who last May became the first player from Howard County to win a state singles tennis title, knew what she wanted from a college.

"I want to see how far I can take it, how good I can get," Dougherty said in June after being named the county's girls Player of the Year. "I want to play at a strong program that has a good coach and plays a really good schedule so I can improve a lot."

Dougherty has found such a school.

"I'm going to the University of Wisconsin," said Dougherty, who last month signed a full scholarship offer to attend the school in Madison, Wisconsin's state capital. "I really liked the school, the coaches and the team. It's a strong program and they run it very well. All the kids on the team really respect the coaches."

Patti Henderson is in her fourth year coaching Wisconsin, which was 22-8 overall and 9-3 in the Big 10 last season. The Badgers, who have 12 indoor courts on campus, are ranked 20th in a preseason poll.

Henderson said Dougherty will bring "enthusiasm" to the team as well as her skills.

"She's a competitor, she's a fighter, she's explosive, she's powerful," Henderson said. "Hopefully during her course of time as a Badger we hope to harness some of those things and direct them and improve upon other parts of her game and she'll become a great talent.

"She's got great heart and great desire," Henderson added. "We put that with some commitment and some daily practice and she'll blossom into a great player for us. She'll be fun to work

with and we're very much looking forward to her coming here."

Dougherty watched a Wisconsin practice during her official visit in September and was impressed.

"They work very hard and were really intense," said Dougherty, two characteristics that describe Dougherty as well. "I think if I JTC really work hard this summer I can fit in. I'm excited about going there and seeing how I can help the team."

Dougherty, who plans to play in summer tournaments that involve other collegiate players, is not sure whether she will play for Centennial in the spring.

"I haven't really decided yet," said Dougherty, who is president of Centennial's Student Government Association. "There are a lot of factors to consider."

Dougherty lost only one game during the county schedule last season and never lost a set in postseason play. She finished the season 27-0.

Dougherty and her sister, Julia, won the state doubles title two years ago after finishing third the year before. Julia now attends the University of Connecticut.

Pub Date: 12/02/97

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