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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Lipsher testing goal mettle

 •  Maryknoll alum sets for visiting Santa Clara
 •  Chart:
Hawai'i's Division I Women's Soccer Players on the Mainland

By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Duke freshman goalkeeper Allison Lipsher went undefeated in her final two years at Punahou — including not allowing a goal as a senior.

"It was a slap in the face how much different soccer is up here," says Punahou alum Allison Lipsher.

Jon Gardiner • Duke University Photography

That is why it was such a shock for her to open the collegiate season with two losses and allowing nine goals.

"It was a slap in the face how much different soccer is up here," she said. "You can't prepare for the atmosphere and the level of play."

Lipsher, the 2004 Advertiser Girls State Player of the Year, lost both games against ranked opponents: then-No. 18 Tennessee, 4-3 in overtime, and fifth-ranked Florida, 5-1.

"The goals were legitimate, I don't want to take anything away from them," she said. "It was obviously a big disappointment."

The Tennessee game was especially tough, because Duke was leading 3-1 with about five minutes to go, and the Volunteers scored three goals in 12 minutes for the win.

"It's been a little bit of a struggle and a shock both to her and the team," Duke coach Robbie Church said. "We think she's progressing along very well. She's going to be a terrific goalkeeper."

Lipsher said she couldn't remember the last time four goals were scored on her in one game.

"This is a level of soccer I need to acclimate myself to," she said.

Church said with an injured veteran defense, Lipsher "has been thrown into some very tough situations.

"I think with a little bit more experience down the road she's going to be able to make the adjustments before the play happens."

Duke (2-2), which started the season ranked No. 18 but dropped to No. 30, is looking to get back on the winning track on a road trip to Hawai'i, where it will play in the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Soccer Classic. Duke opens against Hawai'i (3-1-1) on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Waipi'o Peninsula Soccer Stadium.

"I'm super stoked; it's going to be fun," Lipsher said of the return trip home. "I have to go home and pack all my winter clothes. I didn't have enough room the first time."

The Blue Devils leave Durham, N.C., this morning, making the 10-hour trip across the country.

"Physically and mentally it's going to be a very tough trip," Church said. "It's great to be able to take Alli home."

As a senior in high school, Lipsher was a National Soccer Coaches Association of America/adidas Youth All-American, and was named a top 50 U.S. high school recruit by Soccer Buzz Magazine. She played in the McDonald's All-American High School Soccer Game in June.

Lipsher has been a member of U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program regional teams and national team pools, helping her transition to the college game.

She has started three of the Blue Devils' four games, and has played 278 of a possible 368 minutes, with 14 saves.

But with a senior goalkeeper waiting in the wings, Lipsher's starting role is not guaranteed.

"We're still having a battle for that position," Church said. "But Alli has done very well. It's a big jump for any freshman, coming from the high school or club level to the ACC."

The Atlantic Coast Conference features 18-time national champion North Carolina, third-ranked Florida State, fourth-ranked Virginia, fifth-ranked Clemson and 16th-ranked West Virginia.

But the reason Lipsher chose Duke was to play against the nation's top teams.

"It is what I wanted," she said. "Even if it is tough to get scored on, it is what I wanted."

It is that gung-ho attitude that propelled Lipsher to try sky diving at Dillingham Airfield this summer with four friends from Punahou — even though she is afraid of heights.

"I figured it was something to do," she said. "I always wanted to do it and I figured it was my last summer home so I might as well do it. It wasn't that scary. It was so high up it was almost surreal."

Reach Leila Wai at lwai@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-2457.