Women’s soccer team displays potential

The 2004 Northern Kentucky University women’s soccer team enters the season with a 57-match unbeaten streak against Great Lakes Valley Conference opponents, and is coming off its fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.

Coach Bob Sheehan’s team returns seven starters from last year’s eighth-ranked NCAA Division II team that finished 17-3-4 during the season and 9-0-1 in the GLVC. The team advanced to the conference tournament finals before losing to the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Among the returning starters are First Team All Great Lakes Region players senior defender Robyn Withers and junior midfielder Katie Hanck.

“Robyn has started every game since she was a freshman,” Coach Sheehan said. “She’s a real leader in the backfield. And Katie really works hard and is displays great leadership as well.”

Also returning is last season’s GLVC Freshman of the Year forward/midfielder Amy Law and the team’s leader in assists and returning leading scorer, midfielder Amy Martini. Martini had 11 assists and totaled 25 points for the season.

“(Law) is fast and showed a high skill level in her freshman season,” Coach Sheehan said. “(Martini) is a fit, strong athlete who has really taken her training seriously.”

The team will have to replace First Team All Great Lakes Region player and leading scorer Kendra Zinser, and Second Team All Great Lakes Region player Becky Schnieders who graduated last semester.

“You never really replace student athletes of that caliber,” Coach Sheehan said. “They both brought a competitive spirit and attitude, and are two key losses.

“We’re really going to have to come together as a team, and some of the other players will have to be counted on even more this season to replace those two,” said Coach Sheehan.

Some new faces will be counted on to help the team as well. Kristen Votapek is a transfer from Mt. Vernon-Nazarene, who’s speed will be counted on to help the team. Laura Monterosso is a transfer from Wright State University, expected to help on defense.

Freshman Jayme Light and Kristen Lies from Colerain High School have played well so far, as has fellow freshman Jeanna Goettelman from Ursuline Academy.

Returning to the team is goalie Lauren Piening who last plated at NKU in 2000, and along Sam Westerling with will give the Norse two quality goalies.

The Norse face a tough schedule this season, including a slate of non-conference games beginning August 27 at home versus Concord College. The team will also play host to national powers Tusculum College September 3 and Christian Brothers University on September 5. The team has already faced Division I schools Xavier University and Ohio University in scrimmages.

“We scrimmaged Xavier and Ohio to get us used to playing a high-level of opposition. The experience helped us see where we need to be. Tusculum and Christian Brothers are top-10 programs.”

GLVC season play kicks off September 17 at home against Wisconsin-Parkside. NKU lost to Wisconsin-Parkside on penalty kicks at the GLVC Tournament Finals last season (the game is officially a 1-1 tie, keeping Northern’s GLVC unbeaten streak alive.) September 19, the Norse play their second consecutive home game against conference

“The conference is strong, there are a lot of teams who can compete,” Coach Sheehan said. “Indianapolis had the player of the year last season, Jenna Silverman.”

“There are a lot of tough teams: Wisconsin-Parkside, Indianapolis, Missouris-St. Louis. Hopefully our non-confenrence games against tough teams will help us for the season.”

Sheehan enters his eighth season as head coach, entering with a 125-25-11 career record. He was GLVC Co-Coach of the Year Last Season, the fourth season in a row he has either won or shared that honor.

With the league winning streak in tact and the strenght of competition, the Norse have a long road ahead, but are more than equipped to do it.