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Bulldogs lose leader for season


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 11, 2001

ZEPHYRHILLS -- Coach Janet Heyman has anticipated a January return for injured Zephyrhills forward Ashley McGavern.

The Bulldogs coach can forget it.

The team's second-leading scorer last season with 18 goals and 12 assists is not coming back.

McGavern, a senior hampered by chronic knee problems during three years as a three-sport athlete, was recovering from a third operation on her left knee when she tore ligaments in her right knee getting out of a car during the winter break.

"We were counting on her leadership on the field," Heyman said. "Emotionally, (McGavern's absence) hurt the team."

McGavern, dubbed Zephyrhills' "conditioning specialist" by Heyman, will continue to work with the Bulldog forwards.

"She's still coach McGavern," Heyman said.

McGavern's setback is not the only adversity the Bulldogs (8-4-3) have dealt with. Three other starters also have missed playing time.

Forward Joslynn Willis missed five games recovering from mononucleosis, an ankle injury sidelined sweeper Nikki Castro for four games and Kristen Benedini missed six games with a back injury.

So rather than play in tournaments during the winter break, Heyman said, "we rested up our wounded."

However, on a positive note, three of the Bulldogs' top four scorers are not among the wounded. Second-year starting forward Renee Yonkof, who had 14 goals as a freshman, leads the team with 11 goals and 25 points.

Freshman center-midfielder Allison Beasman is second in scoring with six goals and nine assists. Willis, a senior, and freshman Terra Rosensweig are next with 15 points apiece.

Yonkof, a defender for her club team, the under-16 Temple Terrace Spirit, showed her versatility by dropping back as a sweeper in Castro's absence. But Castro clearly is the anchor of the defense and that's where she will stay, Heyman said.

Other than McGavern, the Bulldogs (7-1-2 in Class 2A, District 8) appear healthy for the stretch run.

Zephyrhills won two consecutive games before Monday's 3-0 loss to Land O'Lakes, but Heyman was not discouraged after that defeat.

Mary Fregoso, a junior varsity keeper last season, impressed Heyman in the Land O'Lakes game.

"She was nervous getting on the bus," Heyman said of Fregoso, who made 25 saves. "But once she stepped on the field, everything was fine."

Fregoso has proven to be an adequate replacement for Kaitlyn Dolly, a two-year starter who opted to work this season. Fregoso has a 1.66 goals-against average and six shutouts in 12 games.

"She has stepped up and kept us in games," Heyman said.

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