Winthrop University

Poulos key to success

Winthrop's Dimitra Poulos will be counted on again this season to defend the net for the Eagles.
Winthrop's Dimitra Poulos will be counted on again this season to defend the net for the Eagles.

Winthrop women's soccer coach Melissa Heinz likes nothing more than sitting back and watching a good DVD, especially when it leads to signing a Big South Conference Player of the Year.

That's exactly what happened in the case of junior goalkeeper Dimitra Poulos.

E-mails and DVDs are prime tools for coaches who don't have the recruiting budget to watch international players first hand. Heinz got an e-mail from Wollongong, Australia, about Poulos and then a training DVD in 2005.

"As soon as I saw that DVD, I knew this was a player we had to get," Heinz said. "Fortunately, we were able to get her. Dimi plays the game at a high level from start to finish. Dimi is a shot-stopper. She's determined not to let anything get behind her."

That was evident from her nine shutouts last season. There was much more to her resume.

She was unanimously voted 2006 Big South Player of the Year, selected to the NSCAA/adidas All-Southeast Region second team, had 116 saves -- which gave her a Winthrop-record 219 -- and she's the 2007 preseason BSC player of the year.

"Keepers can't do it by themselves," Poulos said. "You have to have a defense in front of you. The defense usually goes unnoticed until the other team scores a goal. Our defense was very good."

Defensively, Heinz will count on senior Michelle Butler to lead the way. Juniors Kathleen Pollard and Kristen Lee will probably start. Heinz also expects redshirt freshman Tricia Vensel, a transfer from Louisville, to step up and make an immediate impact in the back.

The Lady Eagles finished 13-5-3 last year, 6-1-1 in Big South action to claim their first regular-season title. Winthrop's season ended at the hands of eventual conference tournament champion UNC Asheville in the semifinals.

"I'm excited about this team," Heinz said. "We're playing some of the top teams from other conferences during the first half of our schedule. Playing teams a level higher than the Big South helps you prepare for conference play and tournament."

In 2006, Winthrop outscored its opponents 39-16 and Heinz doesn't see any reason for that to change.

The offense is led by Chelsea White, who has scored 17 goals in two years and leads all players in that category as well as in points.

The Lady Eagles' midfield features Ashley Hallmon along with Taylor Kreis, Jodi Kemp and Katie Schraudenbach.

Jessica Hausfield, an All-Big South freshman team selection in 2006, and junior Erin Foote can play midfield and forward.

Winthrop opens the season at 7 p.m. today hosting Francis Marion.