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Chenoweth combines grit, talent

The Lecanto keeper takes a beating, but opposing forwards are the ones who are hurting.

By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 27, 2002

LECANTO -- Trisha Chenoweth is tough.

In the past year, the Lecanto keeper has sustained two concussions, both times after being cleated in the nose. Another time, she took a knee to the eye that left her sore and swollen.

You won't hear her complain, though.

"I feel this way," Chenoweth said. "The ball that comes into my box is mine and I'm going to do whatever it takes to get it."

That attitude has helped make Chenoweth, a senior and four-year starter, one of the area's premier keepers. She has 11 shutouts -- one shy of her own school record -- and 111 saves while allowing 18 goals in 19 games.

"I think she's the best around," Lecanto coach Kevin Towne said. "She's a good leader, and she controls her defense. She makes sure people are marked up, she distributes the ball very well, and she's a strong kid. She steps up when she's needed."

Chenoweth started her prep career at forward, where she scored 12 goals -- the school's freshman record. But on the first day of practice the following season, she learned the Panthers' top returning keeper had quit the team.

Chenoweth, who had been the No. 2 keeper, was anointed the starter in net, where she had a grand total of two games of experience.

"I was just automatically moved there," Chenoweth said. "I was kind of disappointed at first, but I was willing to do whatever I had to for the team.

"Right off the bat, I was fine. I'm a universal player. Put me anywhere and I'll play it. I did pretty good that first year for never having played (keeper)."

And how.

As a sophomore, Chenoweth had 212 saves and 10 shutouts while allowing 0.91 goals a game. She backed that up by recording 12 shutouts and allowing 0.95 goals a game the next season, which led to her being named team MVP.

"It was a hard thing to sell her on, the glory of scoring goals versus stopping them," Towne said. "But once she made up her mind to be a keeper full time, that's when she got a lot better.

"She moves very fluidly in goal and plays her box well. She's physically very strong, very athletic and very quick."

Chenoweth attributes much of her success to Lecanto's top-notch defenders.

The foursome of Nikky Field, Jessica Ricci, Teala Shelton and Jenny Wheeler might be the strength of the squad.

"I love my defenders to death," Chenoweth said. "I wouldn't trade them for anything in the world."

What also helps is Chenoweth's offensive background. Because of her experience at forward, she knows what to expect from her opponents.

"I know what angles to take," Chenoweth said.

Being tough doesn't hurt, either.

"Sometimes, I'm a little scared, but I also have to be in there and do my job," Chenoweth said. "I have to put my own fears aside and do my job for the team. That's why I'm out there, because they have confidence in me."

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