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Defensive stalwart lifts women's soccer team

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 20, 2000


TAMPA -- Ginger Lynn's job can be difficult at times.

It reads like this: Must be tough, tenacious and aggressive. Must work well with people and be an effective leader. Must be calm under pressure and have the ability to travel -- all over the field.

And as the University of Tampa women's soccer team's top defender, Lynn looks forward to all of that each time she plays. Oh, and there areother things, too.

Recognition? Nah, that's reserved for goal-scoring forwards and play-making midfielders. But you better believe as soon as goals are scored against her unit, the blame is there waiting. But Lynn wouldn't have it any other way. Partly because she accepts the responsibility. Partly because she is scored on so rarely.

A sophomore, Lynn has quickly become the Spartans' top defender. That title earns her the right to mark the opposing teams' top scorer. In establishing herself as a rookie last year, Lynn held Sunshine State Conference co-Players of the Year Karah Smith and Jenny Nilsson to two shots and no goals combined. This year, Lynn has yielded just three scores against players she has marked And in doing so, she has helped UT to an 11-6 record (3-2 in the SSC) and a No. 5 ranking in the Division II South Region poll.

"I don't want to get scored on. That's my job, said Lynn, a 19-year-old exercise science major. "I take it personal." That is something Lynn has become accustomed to. Named a captain, Lynn has had to adapt to her position of authority, handling defensive assignments, helping players on the field and pushing players to be their best.

"A lot of what I do on the field is concentrating on telling people when to step to the ball," said Lynn, who has played in 31 consecutive games. "And make sure people are in position so we don't get beat tactically."

And that's happening less and less to the Spartans as they become a legitimate Division II program. An increase in wins in each of its three seasons and its first national ranking this season have proved that -- and also proved to Lynn she made the right decision.

A two-time team MVP at Tampa Catholic, Lynn ended her prep career as a defender who was never scored upon. Miami, Florida State and Connecticut were interested. She opted for UT and then-coach George Fotopoulos, who also coached Lynn's club team, Tampa Heather, which won two state championships.

"It was an easy decision," she said. "The program was coming along really well. It was a chance to stay close to home and play in front of my family."

Lynn and her teammates adjusted to the coaching change when Jay Entlich came aboard this year, and Lynn personally adjusted to his new style of defense, a floating zone. Besides Wednesday's 9-7 win over Rollins, the new defense has worked well. Lynn, along with defenders Stacey Estes, Angela Gillissee, Heather Rocha and Mindy Simmons, has anchored a defense that has yielded 2.1 goals per game. But if there is anything that does take getting used to for Lynn, it's missing the playoffs again.

Last week's 5-4 loss to Christian Brothers (Tenn.) all but ended UT's chances of getting one of the two regional bids. But Lynn sees it as just another goal. "At first, we just wanted to have more wins every season," she said. "And then it was to show we can play with anyone in the country. Next year, we have to go to the playoffs."

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