Kafka big in goal for Lehigh women

Alumni Report


Freshman goalkeeper Julie Kafka is described by her Lehigh coach as "5-6 on a tall day."

However, the former McDonogh standout towered over many keepers around the country this season as she recorded a school-record 12 shutouts and had Division I's second-best goals-against average (0.25) and save percentage (.955) entering postseason play last weekend.

Kafka also was chosen the Co-Goalkeeper and Co-Rookie of the Year in the Patriot League as she helped lead the Mountain Hawks to their most successful regular season in school history (14-2-1 and a final 14-3-1 overall record).

Lehigh not only won its first Patriot regular-season championship, but its players captured or shared every major league award and placed six on the two all-league teams.

Kafka was a second-team selection, allowing four goals in the regular season and one score last Friday in top-seeded Lehigh's disappointing, league semifinal loss to Bucknell in a 6-5 shootout.

The shootout followed a 1-1 draw at the end of regulation and two scoreless overtime periods. Kafka made three saves in the game before being replaced in the shootout by sophomore Brittany Besler.

The substitution for the record-breaking freshman was a continuing attempt by coach Manny Oudin to protect the young Kafka.

"As a group, what we've tried to do is make things predictable for her," Oudin said. "We try to make the shot she sees as pretty simple as possible, so we don't put her in situations where she has to make 10 saves a game."

Kafka said her biggest moment this season came when she shut out Villanova, 1-0, in the season-opener by making 11 saves, one of which was outstanding - on a header from point-blank range.

Freshman midfielder Lea Erculiani (South River) is also a member of the Lehigh team.

Wooden emerges

Third-year Notre Dame sophomore cornerback Ambrose Wooden (Gilman) has taken over the team lead in solo tackles with 47, moving him into second place on the team in overall tackles.

Wooden also has returned two interceptions for 41 yards and broken up six passes.

His former Gilman teammate, Notre Dame junior defensive end Victor Abiamiri, has 17 solo tackles and nine assisted stops among a list of achievements that includes 4 1/2 sacks for minus-35 yards, 7 1/2 tackles for minus-41 yards, seven quarterback hits, one pass broken up and one forced fumble.

Contact Bill Free by e-mail at bfree7066@hotmail.com or by phone at 410-833-5349.

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