It’s soccer season again and the NKU women’s team is set to begin their quest for a fourth straight Final Four appearance.
NKU begins the season ranked No. 3 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America NCAA Division II preseason poll with hopes of winning their fifth consecutive Great Lakes Valley Conference championship.
The top returnee for the Norse is senior forward Bessie Black. Last season, Black was named first-team All-GLVC while leading NKU with 21 goals and adding 15 assists. Five additional starters are returning with 11 letter winners including senior Stephanie Sandfoss. She says that one of the goals for this season is to “maintain the tradition of women’s soccer at NKU.”
According to head coach Bob Sheehan, some can’t miss games of the season will include games against West Virginia Wesleyan, Wisconsin-Parkside, Tusculum and Christian Brothers. Currently, Christian Brothers University is ranked No. 2 in the NSCAA national preseason poll and made it to the championship game of last year’s tournament before losing to UC San Diego.
Last season, NKU finished the season ranked No. 3 after being defeated by eventual national champion UC San Diego in the semifinals with a record of 22-2. The Norse had a strong offensive attack by leading the GLVC in scoring by averaging 4.9 goals per game. According to Sheehan, by having a starting rotation of 14-15 different starters last season, that depth will help the team this year.
After graduating eight seniors, Sheehan says no one particular loss will be difficult to replace because they were a team who had roles but that as a whole they are a tremendous loss. Sandfoss says that the defense will be the one part of the team that will be the toughest to replace.
Sheehan says that the top returnees are the five seniors because of their leadership. He says that the strengths of the team are their spirit and their positive attitude. Sandfoss agrees by saying that the team “needs more positive attitude” to be successful this season.
One weakness that faces this year’s Norse is the lack of experience in real-game situations. Out of the 20 players on this year’s roster, nine are newcomers with no previous collegiate experience. Even though he is pleased with the newcomers, Sheehan says that one of the goals this season is getting them game experience.
According to Sheehan, fans this season can expect to see the team “play with a lot of energy.”
The season started Friday at the Town and Country Sports Complex in Wilder against Saginaw Valley State with the next home game on Sept. 13 against Tusculum. Now that soccer season is upon us, make a trip down to Wilder to cheer on the Norse as they go for a fourth consecutive Final Four appearance and their first national title.